Royals Rays Baseball

Time to bring back the GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

click above image for boxscore

THE GOOD: Matt Joyce. Yeah. We can’t wait to hear the Rays reasoning for sending Joyce back to Durham when everybody is healthy. Can anybody make an argument that Joyce is not a better option *right now* than the Gabe o’ the Day platoon? That is some of the best bat speed we have seen since, well, since BJ Upton forgot he was BJ Upton. The ball just explodes off of Joyce’s bat and last night it was 3 hits including his 3rd home run in 5 games with the Rays. But the big blow was a tie-breaking 2-out double to left-center off a lefty. That was the at bat that might have had Andrew Friedman ripping up Joyce’s return ticket to Durham…Andy Sonnanstine. His spot in the rotation is on life support and last night’s performance might have just bought him a little more time. The 2 home runs were a little troubling but for only the second time this season The Duke did not walk a batter…Dude and the Madman. Is there a better relief pitcher in baseball right now than JP Howell? And Grant Balfour is starting to look like his old self, minus a couple of MPHs. It is like their roles as awesome and awesomer have reversed this season. Last night they retired the final 8 batters of the game, 5 by strikeout (1 did reach on a wild pitch strikeout)…BJ Upton. It is only fair to note that Bossman was on base 3 times last night and has hit safely in 6 straight.

THE BAD: Evan Longoria. You want to talk about jinxed? Joe Maddon gives Dirtbag a half-night off by DHing him and he comes up lame running to first and will have an MRI today…Giving Away Outs. BJ Upton and Carl Crawford were both thrown out at third base in the third inning, killing a potential scoring opportunity and later Reid Brignac was caught stealing at second in the 5th. We are all for BE AGRESSIVE, B-E AGRESSIVE, but the Rays only get 27 outs. Last night they gave away 11% of them.

THE TELLING: The Rays will not face Zach Greinke in this series.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Matt Joyce.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Evan Longoria says the hamstring did not pop or pull, and hopes it is a “day to day thing.” Joe Maddon was a bit more concerned, knowing how tricky hamstrings can be. [The Heater]
  • Joe Maddon said that Pat Burrell has better range of motion in his neck and will increase his activity this week. A rehab assignment sounds likely…Also, Maddon thinks Scott Kazmir will be back in the rotation before the all-star break. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Evan Longoria is now the top vote-getter in the AL, surpassing Derek Jeter. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Keith Law had his second mock draft and now he has the Rays selecting a high school shortstop, Jiovanni Mier. [ESPN]

Horizon HS catcher Tommy Joseph (my pick for them last time around) is still a possibility, and they’d love it if one of the three top high school center fielders fell here.

  • The Rays will release a report this month on the cost and what it would take to renovate the Trop…This piece does not address say whether this report will include whether it is possible to add a retractable roof to the Trop, something the Rays are looking in to. [Ballpark Frankness]

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35 Comments

  1. i was hesitant to say this above, but I will throw it out there down here. For those that are looking for redemption in the Edwin Jackson trade, try this on for size: The Rays have a lot of good hitters in the lineup, but Joyce may be the best pure hitter of the bunch. He reminds me a little of Will Clark, only more athletic. Not really the stance or the swing, but how the ball just always seems to find the sweet spot. Never has a bad swing.

  2. Sublime says:

    I usually trash Sonny performances, so I feel it’s only right to give him his Props when he pitches well. Good Job Sonny, and I hope this is the beginning of many more quality starts.

    There’s no way in Hell, either Gabe should be in the lineup with the way Joyce is playing right now. If Maddon feels the need to put either Gabe in, maybe he’s trying to sabotage the team? lol!

  3. bobrittner says:

    I think Joyce will be a good player and hope he stays with the team. My guess is that Brignac goes down when Bartlett returns, although I don’t think Zobrist is much of a defensive second baseman.

    But let’s give this some time before we anoint Joyce as the answer in RF right now. In AAA this year, although his BA looks decent (.282) vs. lefties, he struck out 14 times in 39 ABs (without walking once). That is once every 2.78 times which is very disturbing.

    Of course it is silly to use 10 ABs as a sample, but Gross is killing lefties in those 10 opportunities with 3 walks and just 1 K, 1 home run and a line of .429/.600/1.143. Given his history, this is just a blip, but so too is Joyce’s very hot start since returning to the majors.

    I expect Joyce to become the regular right fielder, maybe even henceforth, and I think he is a better player than Gross, but there is no reason to be too certain that a full-time Joyce is better than a Gross/Kapler platoon right now.

    • Charles says:

      I’d have to look it up to be sure, but I feel like a lot of those strikeouts against lefties came early on in his Durham stint. I could easily be projecting my awesome filter on him, but I feel like I remember reading along in the Down On The Farm posts that as time went on, he started hitting lefties pretty successfully with fewer strikeouts both against lefties and overall.

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      You had me on your side right up until you mentioned Kapler… he is dead weight at best! He isn’t better than Gross in any regard, statistically or otherwise, and doesn’t belong anywhere near the conversation about right fielders.

  4. Charles says:

    Matt Joyce is the man. Just imagine – we’re already leading the league in runs with B.J. Upton hitting like B.J. McKay, the Wonder Gabes out there more often than not and Pat Burrell’s neck all messed up. A lineup with Matt Joyce and Burrell back healthy can only make that even better. Ridiculous.

    And here’s what I love about J.P. Howell – the guy is super efficient. Some guys I feel like when they miss the zone, they’re nibbling and aiming too much or something. When Howell’s up there, even pitches out of the zone seem to go to a specific spot with a specific purpose. He just strikes me as one of those smart pitchers who knows how to work a plan.

  5. Amanda says:

    Cork … to your pondering of what will be the team’s reasoing for keeping the Gabe-o-rama in right and sending Joyce down. I *just* heard a post-game interview with Maddon on 620-AM (again, yay Internets!), and he just said that basically, Joyce and the Gabes are the same player, so we’ll be seeing more of Joyce long-term. OMFG!!!! SOMEONE SHOOT ME!!!!!! BETTER YET, SOMEONE SLAP MADDON UPSIDE THE HEAD!!!!! THEY ARE NOT THE EFFING SAME PLAYER!!!! MATT JOYCE HAS DOUBLED THE STATS OF THE GABES COMBINED IN THREE GAMES!!!!! LONG-TERM?!?!? HOW ABOUT NOW!! WE NEED TO WIN GAMES NOW!!! NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!!!!!

    *pant, pant, pant, pant* ok … there. I said it. I feel better.

    By the way … It was just after Staats and Kennedy was talking about how Longoria told Maddon that he didn’t want to DH anymore because he didn’t know what to do with himself, felt like he wasn’t in the game, and couldn’t stay warmed up, that Longo pulled his hammy. Hey Maddon … how about playing your best line-up instead of giving young, healthy playeres too many nights off, eh?

    • Amanda says:

      A quick clarification (they just replayed the quote from Maddon): He was comparing Joyce to Gabe Gross, not to Kapler. And they said the comment was from before the game. Hopefully, another couple of games, and Maddon will have to realize how much better Joyce is than Gross.

      • Wally Pipp says:

        Yeah, I heard that on the pre-game show last night. I couldn’t believe he said that (I believe the phrase he used was “similar batting style”). I like Gross, but his swing has never been as explosive as Joyce’s.

        I say keep Joyce in, if not because he’s a better player (which he is), but because he’ll put more butts in the seats. He’s a much more exciting to watch, and as a local kid, will be more of a draw than either Gabe.

  6. Brian H says:

    I was at the game yesterday, and at the last 4 actually, and a few things stand out.

    Most obviousily is, just like professor said, Matt Joyce gets thehead of the bat on the ball more often than not. He can really hit, and looks very comfortable. No doubt in my mind i would rather have him against a lefty than Gabe Kapler.

    Second, Brignac can really field the ball, and zobrist, is a below average fielder ( blame it on whatever). But Brignac really can get to the ball, and make very athletic plays. Impressive.

    Finally, lastnight Balfour, was up a notch on his consitency o n his fastball. Although he is not quite up to last year. He consistently threw his fast ball at 94 mph, hitting 95 twice, and 93 only twice. Which is much better than he had been doing. Gives me confidence he will get it back up there to 95-97.

  7. Rayhawk says:

    I’ve said it before, a lot, and I’ll say it again, “CAN JOE PLEASE PUT KAPLER ON WAIVERS”? H wont bring anything on trade, and he is sucking up good air….

    • Don says:

      Part of the good o boy network…Maddon is NOT going to let some young kid (Joyce) come up and take one of “his” boys job…(G&G)…
      Don’t know what kinda pressure that can change that attitude….
      Fans..no, management..no, other players on team wanting to win??

  8. bobrittner says:

    Maddon knows that Joyce has a chance to be a far better player than Gross. That is why he was in the minors, so that he could develop that talent and not have to be platooned in order to win games now.

    And once again, there is zero evidence that Maddon has a good old boy attachment, and it certainly could not include Kapler who is brand new to the team and unlikely to include Gross. In any case, every move Maddon has made indicates quite the contrary, that he acts for the team not the individuals.

    As for playing his best talent, as I have demonstrated before, that is exactly what he does. And the reason Longoria was DHing is that he has a sore shoulder and cannot throw easily. It has nothing to do with some theory about resting players.

    As for Joyce being better at hitting lefties than Kapler is, there is zero evidence for that statement also. Kapler has not been good so far although he does have 8BBs in 47 ABs, and his history suggests he will improve. Joyce has not been good against lefties this year or last, and his big double last night against a lousy pitcher does not change that fact. I think he can become adequate against them, and hope he gets the chance to prove it, but I am certainly not prepared to substitute my judgment for those closest to the situation based on one hit.

    In fact, if you prefer to judge based on observation (which is ordinarily futile and silly for fans), then watch Gross vs. lefties. He works them very well, usually seeing at least 4 or more pitches, fouling off tough strikes and at least so far this year hitting the ball hard.

    This enthusiasm for Joyce is like the hyperbolic praise for Bonafacio after his first couple of games or the brickbats thrown at Sabathia after his early struggles, pure excitement with little reason behind it. I think that Joyce really does have talent and will thrive, but two games mean nothing.

    • Rays Fan says:

      My observation is, that kapler is not a MLB hitter.

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      I’ve quite possibly been the biggest proponent of Gross from day one, and I continue to be.
      That coupled with Joyce’s potential makes your point in regard to Kapler’s ability to get better a mute one.

      Kapler is dead-weight! Period. Pointe Finale.

      • Dirtbag Fan says:

        that was worded incorrrectly– i didn’t mean to imply my support of Gross coupled with Joyce’s potential…
        I meant to say Gross’ numbers coupled with Joyce’s potential….

  9. bobrittner says:

    Except for the walks, Kapler has been very disappointing this year. But, if I offer you this player, do you say he is not an mlb hitter or is dead weight with anything like assurance?

    Career vs. LHP: 849 ABs, .291/.344/.478 (.822 OPS): 118 OPS+
    2008 vs. LHP: 82 ABs, .354/.379/.622 (1.001 OPS): 154 OPS+

    So far, in 73 widely separated ABs he has been awful. He might be through as an mlb player. It happens. But he is not an overweight slugger or a poorly conditioned player. So isn’t it possible that his 73 ABs represent a bad slump rather than an end to a career?

    After 77 ABs this season, Mark Teixeira’s line was .182/.354/.338, and that was playing every day. After 75 ABs, Matt Holliday’s was .240/.288/.360, also with regular playing time. I am not comparing Kapler to either; I am simply questioning the wisdom of basing a judgment on 73 ABs or necessarily sketchy observation. Any player slumping looks terrible at the plate. Should we also give up on Upton?

    Do you prefer a closer analogy to Kapler, that is a player with a checkered history and a number of red flags? Ok, how about Carlos Pena. In 2007, getting pretty regular playing time with the “Devil” Rays, after 62 ABs Carlos had a line of .194/.224/.435. He had struck out 20 times!

    By contrast, while Kapler has looked comically inept against RHPs, his line against LHPs is .234/.339/.383. That is very disappointing, but if we accept that his job should be limited to lefties, he is doing a better job so far than Carlos did in his initial performance for TB or than Holliday or Teixeira did to start this year. He is a 6 for 10 streak and 2 home runs away from a .300 BA and nearly a .500 slugging %.

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      I never ventured to say that Kapler wasn’t ever a good major league player. I’ve simply said (often) that at this point he’s wasted space on the roster. Every player reaches a point where the game has passed them by, after a retirement 2 years ago and a seemingly failed attempt at trying again it seems as if Kapler is one of those players.

  10. Rays Fan says:

    Mr. Rittner, “what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. “

  11. Don says:

    Kapler should be cutting my grass….Gross cleaning the pool…
    But… please not playing baseball on (any) ML team!
    Come to think of it does Maddon have a House (grass&pool)here?

  12. Wally Pipp says:

    Another thought to ponder is that Joyce may not be the long-term replacement for the Gabes, but the replacement for Crawford. If the Rays decide not to pick up CC’s $10 mil option (or pick it up then trade him), Joyce’s success/potential may be the justification for the move.

  13. stunna says:

    Joyce is here to stay, well at least he SHOULD be. He is by far our best option in RF, now and long-term. When Burrell comes off the DL can we PLEASE just DFA Kapler? He is washed up, and like mentioned above, is just a waste of space on our roster.

    As far as Howell is concerned, I think it’s pretty obvious he is one of the best relievers in baseball. Other than Longoria, he is the most valuable player on the team IMO.

  14. bobrittner says:

    I am waiting for anyone to present an argument or a data point that demonstrates that Kapler is useless. I see the repetition of the statement, but not one actual argument to support it.

    We all agree his performance to date, encompassing 73 ABs, is disappointing. Is that it? We should throw out last year and an entire career, or we should trust the judgment of amateurs who are watching from afar that he is washed up?

    There is one point that is almost an argument, that he sat out a year. Certainly that suggests that he may no longer be a viable option. Except that he was outstanding last year and is not old or out of shape, so while it is suggestive, it is hardly more than that.

    Unlike those who are ready to dump Kapler, I am not making an absolute statement. I am not saying I know he will rebound; I don’t know. I am simply pointing out that neither do you. Have you noticed that in his 73 ABs he has 7 doubles. As a proportion of ABs that is quite remarkable working out to nearly 50 doubles for a full year. (I am emphatically not saying he is a doubles machine or that he will hit lots of them, only that he is currently showing some doubles power.)

    Have you noticed that his BB rate is higher than ever before? Or asked yourself why?

    Have you checked Joyce’s career numbers vs. lefties? It is not pretty, and having checked with someone who knows I have some verification that I am right in saying that he actually began AAA this year hitting lefties well and then slumped badly, not vice versa. (I do not state that definitely but think it is true.)

    Rays Fan, I am no more worried about making you dumber than hopeful that you can become smarter.

    • Brixology says:

      Bob gets snarky! I love it!

      Bob, I think you make a very compelling case for patience, as usual. And, also as usual, you are making the global point that the organization knows more than we do. I wholeheartedly agree with you there. None of that changes the fact that, while watching the games, Joyce looks too good to bench. Especially in favor of Kapler, based on how he’s looked. Those are both my opinions, and I do give them far less weight that the decisions made by the DRO, but this is a place for expressing opinions.
      My question for you, since you have proven yourself to be both baseball savvy and patient: how many ABs does he get before you would be able to agree? That sounds sarcastic, but it is a completely sincere question. I value your take on things and I want to know what you think an acceptable sample size is.

      I would also like a definitive answer on the Joyce v. lefties in AAA question. I was under the impression that he did fine while he was down there and I have no info regarding any slumps or streaks.

      • bobrittner says:

        I don’t think the Rays will bench Joyce. I hope they don’t because he is the intended regular right fielder of the future, and it would be nice if that future were now.

        If anyone suffers less playing time because of Joyce it is Gross first, not Kapler. The point is the Rays hope that Joyce, unlike Gross, will become a regular not a platoon player which is why they have wanted him to work on hitting lefties in the minors. I don’t think they want him to platoon as that would delay his growth, but they also have to win now, so if he does not show he is ready to hit lefties at least adequately he will probably be sent down.

        As for his minor league record vs lefties, for his career his line is .243/.327/.395 in 395 ABs with 44BBs and 105Ks. Most of the “good” part of those numbers came in 2007 at Erie (AA). Otherwise his record is really terrible with an OPS under .700 every year save 2009.

        In 2009, his line is .282/.317/.410 in 39 ABs with 0 HRs, 0 BBs and 14 Ks. In 2008 in Detroit it was .227/.393/.318 in 22 ABs with 6 BBs, 6 Ks, & 0 HRs.

        Your question about how much is needed for a sample size to be enough is excellent. I don’t have a definite answer although I think I have seen some studies that specify. For myself, I want to see at least a full season, but every case is individual. I don’t think Upton’s 2008 tells us enough, nor did Navarro’s 2007. I have seen the suggestion that 3 years of consecutive stats and observation is a place to begin generalizing.

        When the time comes to shed players, Kapler may be the one to go, and I will not mourn his passing. On the other hand, the Rays do not like to give away talent; they prefer getting a return. It is possible that they can acquire someone for Gross. Or they may opt to return Brignac to AAA and give Zobrist or Aybar the 2B job. Aybar may be the second baseman of the future anyway.

        • Joe D. says:

          Only problem here is that Brignac from, all accounts I’ve heard, and I haven’t seen much of Reid in person, is the superior defender, even if Zobrist, or Aybar have a better bat. The team has been there and done that with Brendan Harris, fairly good at the dish, but not much range in the middle infield, though he looked decent with the Twins the other day when I saw him at 3B.

          Also, I don’t see Maddon who loves position flexablity, trading out a SS who can play both Middle Infield positions, and has been rumored in that past to maybe get a look in the corner outfield, for an extra OFer.

    • Sam A says:

      I would never suggest Kapler has no value as a ballplayer or that he brings nothing to the Rays as a team. The problem is the Rays need to shed two players to make room for Bartlett and Burrell. Dillon will obviously be the first to go, but they still need to cut/demote one more. I think that next cut should be Kapler because he brings less than the other guys that are currently here.

    • Joe D. says:

      I’m a Kapler fan, I hopped on his band wagon way back when I saw him with the Tigers, I like that he’s a former minor league manager, and a fitness buff. No doubt that he brings some leadership qualities, is he a big league hitter, yes, can he crush lefties when he’s on, yes.

      All that said, sports is a what have you done for me lately business. Kapler hasn’t done much for us lately, and like stated above there are roster decisions to be made very soon, and an OF has to go. Sure Joyce has options, this is an option year, and can be demoted, but he’s a guy that can help us win, now.

      We aren’t going to have too many shots to defend an AL Championship, we are a team that is already in a tough division, and are falling behind quick, this is to be a “go for it” year not a “rebuilding” year for the Rays. So, with those things in mind, I believe, Kapler is odd man out when Burrell, and Bartlett are ready to come back. Patience is a virtue that the Rays can’t afford to have right now, especially with Upton struggling too.

      Maybe we see like with Kazmir when price was ready to come up, that Upton goes on a rehab assignment and buys us more time to keep Kapler, or Gross for that matter. Point is too many OF not enough roster spots, Kapler is the weakest of the OFers right now.

  15. bobrittner says:

    Brixology, I appreciate your comments and want to clarify a point. I do admire the current Rays management team for too many reasons to examine here. That does not mean I always agree with their decisions.

    But when I consider judging their actions I do not begin by referring to some assumed truths about baseball, such as you should always play your best talent, or measuring them against some personal preference, such as “I know Wheeler is a fly ball pitcher so Maddon is doing something stupid when he uses him in a situation where a fly ball can hurt the team.”

    And I certainly do not impose some sort of wild assumptions about motives on them, such as Maddon has favorites, to validate my judgment.

    Rather, I ask the question “why did they do that” and try to consider the options and reasoning behind them. When someone criticizes Maddon for DHing Longoria without knowing about his arm injury that is simply ignorance of the situation. When someone criticizes Maddon’s roster usage as if it is haphazard, that is simply lazy thinking as it is factually inaccurate. When someone criticizes the Rays for playing Gross early this year rather than recalling Joyce it is simply superficial, not accounting for the many factors in a decision like that.

    That does not mean the opinions are always wrong. Maybe the Rays should have had Joyce and Price on the roster from the start, but before asserting it we should have enough respect for the Rays management to consider why they might not have and consider whether their reasoning might make sense. Baseball decisions are not right or wrong in most cases; they are decisions among many options more than one of which might be legitimate.

  16. Jason says:

    Props to Prof for the Faith No More reference.

  17. stunna says:

    Kapler couldn’t hit the ball in the spring either. Couldn’t even come close. He has looked horrible since day 1. Like stated above, he is the weakest OF on the team, and I just don’t see him turning it around. I hope I’m wrong.

  18. bobrittner says:

    “Also, Kapler’s BABIP has fallen to .213 while his LD% has gone up to 14.5%… wtf).”

    Does anyone think this is suggestive?

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