Free Matt Joyce

Far be it from me to question this front office on knowing who to put where and when, but ... it's time. Between a rehab stint and his plain ol' time at Durham, Matt Joyce has racked up 150 plate appearances and a line of .316/.460/.556. That's not a misprint, he has a .460 on-base percentage in 150 plate appearances. His Durham (110 of those PA) OBP is .436. That's not a reasonable expectation for Joyce heading forward at any level. What is a reasonable expectation is that Joyce outperforms either Hank Blalock or Dioner Navarro.

Look, Joyce has had injury issues. It's unfortunate, really, and it's even worse that all that time he spent on the disabled list this year worked towards his service time. Still, he's 25 years old and under control through at least the next few seasons. I can understand not burning Desmond Jennings' clock or Jeremy Hellickson's. I cannot understand the holdup with Joyce. It's probably his arm, and yet, this is where his absence begins to make no sense.

If it is his arm, then he can still be the designated hitter against right-handed pitchers, which makes Blalock redundant, although that's being kind because there is almost no way those two are of equal talent levels right now. Joyce can't throw? Yeah, well neither can Blalock. Joyce can hit, run, and field though. If you say Dioner Navarro should go, that's fine too, but if you say John Jaso's defense makes you uneasy, then Jaso is essentially the DH half the time against right-handed pitching, which again makes Blalock the odd man out.

It's not a secret that I like Joyce and dislike Blalock. The latter has accumulated more than 60 plate appearances now and entering tonight his wOBA was identical to Pat Burrell's wOBA last season. 60 plate appearances is a small sample size. A real small one. Here's the thing, though: in small sample sizes, scouting trumps stats 95% of the time. I'm not claiming to be a scout, yet nothing from Blalock's time in St. Petersburg has made me the least bit optimistic that he's going to live up to the projections.

That's not to suggest he'll continue to be this bad, I don't believe that either, but the Rays don't need hundreds of plate appearances to pull the plug on Blalock. The Rays' Director of Pro Scouting, Matt Arnold, was with Blalock in Texas. He knows what a good Blalock looks like and this is not a good Blalock. He's not showing gap power, he's not showing the ability to discern between pitch types, and things are so bad that the requirements for a drinking game based around Blalock's plate appearances are only: 1) swig if he makes an out; and 2) finish the bottle if he strikes out on three pitches. I don't advise playing this game most nights because it's depressing and leads to intoxication.

Truthfully it doesn't matter all too much whether Blalock or Navarro get the axe. What does matter is that Joyce is promoted and soon. This team is above reactionary moves, but it's also too smart to be sitting on Joyce for dead weight.

Flip the switch, guys. Please.  

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