Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rays - Bulls - Rays - Bulls: Position Players

A couple of days ago I started a series looking at just how much the Rays and Bulls helped each other this year. The first was a look at the rehabilitation assignment players who passed through. The second looked at the pitchers. This one will look at position players. Note that all stats are for regular season only.

Only seven position players spent time on both the Rays and the Bulls rosters this year: Matt Joyce, Michel Hernandez, Reid Brignac, Joe Dillon, Shawn Riggans, and Chris Richard got into games. John Jaso was up for 4 days, but did not come to bat.

Matt Joyce
  • Bulls: 111 games, 417 AB, .273/.373/.482, OF
  • Rays: 11 games, 32 AB, .188/.270/.500, OF
Matt started the year with the Rays, but only stuck with them for three appearances in which he got one hit (a home run). He went back up at the end of May and played in 8 games before coming back to the Bulls and finishing out the year. As mentioned elsewhere on this blog (more than once) the Rays are going to have to decide about right field and how they want to play it. Matt seemed to get caught up in their confusion this year.

Michel Hernandez
  • Bulls: 13 games, 46 AB, .196/.273/.196, catcher
  • Rays: 35 games, 99 AB, .242/.292/.323, catcher
Michel started the season with the Bulls, but he didn’t stay long. He went to the Rays on April 14 and stayed there until early August when the Rays obtained Greg Zaun from Baltimore. What the stats don’t show is his effect on the pitching staff, which appeared to be very positive for the Bulls.

Reid Brignac
  • Bulls: 96 games, 415 AB, .282/.327/.417, SS (88), 2B (8)
  • Rays: 31 games, 90 AB, .278/.301/.746, SS/2B
Reid spent a good bit of time with the Rays this season, mostly in response to injuries on the Rays squad. He went up in mid-May for almost a month (21 games), made a one day visit in August, and was called up on September 7 to finish out the season. This looks like a win-win for the Bulls and Rays this year. Reid is certainly an improved shortstop from last year, and he did a decent job at the plate. Looks like he did the same with the Rays.

Joe Dillon
  • Bulls: 35 games, 123 AB, .244/.340/.333, 1B(17), 2B (4), 3B (13), SS (1)
  • Rays: 15 games, 30 AB, .300/.400/.400, 2B/3B [note: only started 1 game]
Joe is a real puzzle when it comes to how the Rays manage their players. He came to the Bulls in early May from the Oakland system, appeared in a couple of games, and went to the Rays on May 26. From then to mid-August he mostly sat on the bench and waited to pinch hit. For the Bulls he was a critical guy in the final days of the season and in the post-season. A very solid, professional ballplayer that certainly made a difference to the Bulls. Hard to tell if he helped the Rays out or not.

Shawn Riggans
  • Bulls: 11 games, 40 AB, .200/.238/.325, catcher
  • Rays: 7 games, 14 AB, .143/.143/.357, catcher
Shawn came to the Bulls from Montgomery in August, having essentially been in rehab all season and he did a short stint on the DL while with the Bulls. He went up to the Rays with the September call-ups. Really hard to make any judgments on Riggans since he really hasn’t been healthy for a couple of years now.

Chris Richard
  • Bulls: 100 games, 365 AB, .263/.364/.521, 1B-DH
  • Rays: 13 games, 19 AB, .105/.261/.105, 1B
Chris got called up on September 7 after the Rays’ Carlos Peña was injured. He started 5 games at first, but mostly the Rays used utility man Willy Aybar at first and Chris sat on the bench. He obviously did not hit well when he got the opportunity. Hard to tell what would have happened if he’d had a chance to see a bit more pitching.

How much help were the Bulls to the Rays this year? Not much. From the look of it, only Reid Brignac and Michel Hernandez were of any real value. But there were some dynamics down there on the Bay that had an effect. The emergence of Ben Zobrist made a huge difference. Suddenly they had a guy who could not only play just about any position, but bang out hits on call. Why call up, say, Elliot Johnson, when Zobrist can handle second base for a while? And Willy Aybar, with Zobrist, covered the absence of Iwamura very well.

The sheer stubbornness of Rays management can’t be discounted. Long after several approaches were clearly not effective (Upton as leadoff, platooning RF, Burrell as DH) they stuck with them. However, looking at the Bulls for help in any of those areas (other than RF) didn’t find much help. Justin Ruggiano had, for him, a very difficult year. The Rays clearly don’t think that Jon Weber is a major leaguer, so they won’t use him. There are systemic problems at catcher, third base and first base all down through the Rays system, so there should be no surprise that there’s no “star” in Durham at those positions.

On the other hand, the Bulls did great! Guys that the Rays wouldn’t call up on a bet (and some that they did, such as Chris Richard) sure showed that they know how to play the game. Henry Mateo, Ray Olmedo, Joe Dillon, Jon Weber, Craig Albernaz, Brandon Chaves, and Rashad Eldridge. Then there were a couple on the 40-man that never got a shot this year, Justin Ruggiano and Elliot Johnson who did just fine or us.

I must, reluctantly, admit that we did just fine by the Rays this year.

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