Time to Re-Joyce?

December 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Baseball, Rays | Leave a comment

So the Rays have finally made a significant offseason move.  In their first trade since reaching the World Series, they moved Edwin Jackson to Detroit for Matt Joyce.

I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about Matt Joyce until I heard about the trade.  Then I realized that as a 24-year old rookie with the Tigers this year, he hit .252-.339-.492 (.831 OPS).  Not bad for a rookie!  Evan Longoria’s OPS was .874, so Joyce is no slouch.  He hit 12 home runs with 33 RBI in only 242 at bats.  I’ve read that his defensive skills in the outfield are very, very good.  If you’re curious, you can check out his career stats here.

Joyce should be the starting right fielder for the 2009 Rays, at least against right-handed pitchers.  Either Fernando Perez or Justin Ruggiano will probably platoon with him and hit against lefties.  Joyce seems like an upgrade over Gabe Gross, who I expect will be traded at some point before the season starts.

On the other end of the trade is Edwin Jackson.  I knew that either he or Andy Sonnanstine would be traded to make room for David Price in the 2009 rotation.  “E-Jax” finally started to live up to some of his vast potential in 2008, showing glimpses of why he was considered the #1 pitching prospect in baseball five years ago.  He was still the Rays’ most inconsistent starter though, and his 1.51 WHIP suggests that his 14 wins and 4.42 ERA might be on the high end of what he’s capable of doing.  He has improved a lot over the last few years, and I wish him the best of luck in Detroit!

Jackson was actually involved in the first trade that Andrew Friedman made as the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (a.k.a. “General Manager”) of the Rays.  In January 2006, he dealt relief pitchers Danys Baez and Lance Carter to the Dodgers for Jackson and Chuck Tiffany, who was a highly-regarded pitching prospect at the time.  Tiffany tore his labrum (shoulder) in 2006 and is still trying to fully recover from that.

So the Rays 2009 rotation will consist of James Shields, Scott Kazmir, ALCS MVP Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, and David Price.  If Price comes close to fulfilling his potential, the starting pitching will be even better than it was in 2008, and he could be the A.L. Rookie of the Year.  If anyone gets hurt, Jason Hammel (who pitched in the bullpen in 2008), Jeff Niemann, Mitch Talbot, or mega-prospect Wade Davis will be waiting in the wings to take their spot.

The next major piece of business for the Rays will be to sign a power-hitting DH, probably a right-hander.  My personal preference would be Pat Burrell, who I think would fit very nicely into the Rays lineup.  Milton Bradley is another possibility, but I’m worried about his frequent injuries and temper tantrums in the past.  The Rays should be able to get a good deal with the glut of corner outfielder/first base/DH types on the free agent market.

I don’t think that I have any Matt Joyce cards in my collection, so if you have any, I’d love to trade for them.  Here’s a look at his 2008 Topps Stadium Club autograph card.  I found the image on eBay:

matt_joyce

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