Playing A Little Pepper

If the Rays don’t re-sign BJ Upton, who is playing in the outfield next year for the Rays?

First of all, the Rays are not re-signing Upton. I’d put the chances of that happening at 1%. But it’s OK. They’ve got a pretty good replacement in Desmond Jennings at 1/30th the price. And then Joe Maddon will do what he does. He will fill the other two spots with some combination of Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, and Sam Fuld. And keep in mind. The Rays think Fuld can be a very valuable player based on his defense alone and won’t have a problem sticking him out there most days, and batting 9th as the popular “second leadoff hitter”…SAME GUYS DOING IT NOW, MINUS UPTON

Game Graph

[Will be up at game time]

Source: FanGraphs

Lineup…

  1. Flash Jennings, LF
  2. BJ Upton, CF
  3. Ben Zobrist, SS
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B
  5. Matt Joyce, RF
  6. Jeff Keppinger, 2B
  7. Luke Scott, DH
  8. Carlos Pena, 1B
  9. Jose Molina, C
  10. James Shields, SP

Song to get you pumped up

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10 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    It was this kind of analysis that kept the Bulls from being a decent team this year. We had no, repeat, no outfielders ... unless you count rotating catchers and first basemen ... Vogt, Anderson, and Gimenez. Our top outfielders were Rich Thompson and Jesus Feliciano (I know, you guys have never heard on Feliciano and are only mildly aware of Thompson who's on your bench as we speak). Here's my point. You've got no, repeat, no depth in the outfield. And, unless I've missed something, nobody on the way. Upton leaving is a much larger issue than you've portrayed it here.

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    • Lane Meyer says:

      Mahtook, Vettleson, and Sale are all high upside OF prospects that should reach Durham some time in the next year. Sale and Vettleson were both drafted from HS and should really continue to get bigger and stronger. The Rays just need to find a few players at key positions to bridge the time before they arrive, not blow up the roster because Baltimore plays 15 games over their head.

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      • Chris says:

        Happy to hear some help may be on the way. We saw Kiermaier at the end of the season and he shows some promise as well. The larger issue, if I were a Rays fan, is that the Rays have grown only one outfielder in recent years, Desmond Jennings (remember, Upton was the shortstop of the future, not outfielder), and Mr. Jennings has a history of injuries. So there seems to be a systemic problems at hand.
        The smaller issue (but much more important to me) was watching catchers lurch about in the DBAP when they needed to be working on their behind the plate skills. Guyer, Jennings, Joyce? Maybe...

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  2. Dave L says:

    Chris is correct.

    This logic of BJ replaced by Desmond is a head scratcher.

    Its a domino effect that leaves us weaker at every position offensively and defensively.

    We saw this earlier in the year when BJ was down (minus a healthy Fuld granted)

    Our outfield suffered greatly offensively and defensively.

    Jennings to center- Power drop off, RBI drop off, arm strength big drop for CF ---the rest equal.

    Joyce to left - range drop off, but better arm offensively a wash, base stealing speed and running a big drop

    So effectively we have Fuld/cast of characters replacing Upton.

    Do you think Fuld's sell out his body every play will last 130 plus games? Do you think his dive for every ball while some go to the wall will not get old? Its great for small bites but a steady diet 6 games a week?

    I love the guy dont get me wrong but its different when you become the starter, hopefully he will become the Pedroia of the OF........

    What about if one of the above goes down? Which they will.

    Ok Zobrist moves back to OF. WTF kind of infield we have now? Offensively AND defensively? Yikes!

    Then what?

    Stop with the Jennings replaces Upton. Jennings is our starting RF already. Everybody that moves up gets a little more over thier head defensively on a team which is an AL leader in errors and Upton was not making many errors.

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    • Tom says:

      I do not think they will lose anything defenively moving Jennings to Centerfield. He is faster than Upton and I believe his arm is just as strong. He was primarily a Centerfielder in the minors.

      As far as the power, RBI drop off... I do not see it- Upton has a career OPS of .758, Jennings is .741 really not much of a difference. Jennings is also a far superior baserunner.

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      • Beth says:

        Have you actually watched him throw? I love Desmond but his arm is not as strong. Not close.

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        • Tom says:

          Beth, You are right and I did not state my point correctly.

          What I meant is while Upton has a stronger arm Jennings is more accurate. Also Upton has a bad habit of overthrowing the cut off man on plays at the plate which lets the batter get into 2nd, ruining a DP opportunity. For these reasons, I do not believe the difference in the value of their arm are that great.

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  3. Chris D says:

    You have Guyer coming back next year. He's the new Fuld to replace Fuld who replaces Jennings who replaces Unpton.

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  4. Dave L says:

    Ok so now we are getting somewhere ChrisD has it correct.

    BJ is being basically replaced by a combination of Guyer and Francisco as RHB and Fuld against righties. Thats as far as offense goes. Its like when Zobrist moves to fill a weak spot. It doesnt count offensively because he is already in the lineup.

    So far Guyers OBP is .204 yes hes young only 50 AB and can improve but that's a big leap of faith here.

    And as far as "Maddon will do as he does" it has worked with pitching and squeezing every drop of runs out of a offensively challenged lineup which has gotten progressively worse since 2008 peak.

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  5. Allen says:

    Guyer's big league numbers are meaningless. His minors record looks good, but that's not Tampa Bay.

    What was the nature of his injury that kept him out in 2012? Will it dibilitate him going forward? At any rate, Guyer is unproven.

    We're focusing on the outfield, but what about first base? Certainly not Pena again. Catcher? Second base?

    My biggest disappointment is Joyce in right. He starts strong, weakens and fizzles fast. Dave L, this whole team (minus pitching) is a head scratcher to me once you get past Longoria, Zobrist, Keppinger and possibly Jennings. Where's the offense? And don't forget we're last in fielding.

    There's going to be some new blood on this team in 2013.

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