Since I was last here discussing the Trever Miller Cardinals signing (which has since been finalized), the Tampa Bay Rays have even further altered their landscape for the 2009 season and beyond. It has not only changed the face of the team on the field, but off of it as well.
The big move I wanted to mention first was the departure of color commentator Joe Magrane. After 11 years of making Rays TV broadcasts interesting, Magrane is leaving his longtime employers to become an analyst on the new MLB Network. It would likely be a dream team of him and the great Matt Vasgersian doing the studio show. (Can’t they work the World Series broadcasts too? They’re infinitely better than Joe
Suck Buck and Tim “Curveball, Fastball… Or a Curveball” McCarver.) The Rays TV presentation now has a huge void to fill in his absence. From the way he could analyze the pickoff moves of left handed pitchers to his becoming a “homer” for his team at just the right times, Joe entertained and informed Rays fans thoroughly during the team’s first 11 years in baseball. Good luck finding a replacement who has the same chemistry with Dewayne Staats and Todd Kalas. (Kalas himself?) Rays TV will never be the same again. Neither will FanFest meeting Joe there last February was one of the highlights of the event for me and many other Rays enthusiasts, and he was excellent in the question/answer session. Plus his daughter is a very talented singer who performed at some of their games and may also prove difficult to replace. Anyway, good luck to Joe in his next great endeavor. I’ll be watching.
Now when it comes to players, the Rays have not signed a ¢¢ $abathia type of free agent or made any blockbuster trades, but key moves have been made. Most notably and recently, just last night (December 10), the team traded starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers for 24yearold corner outfielder Matt Joyce. I heard a lot about Joyce and his potential during last season, his first in the Major Leagues with the Tigers. Within a year or two, he can be a 2530 home run hitter with hopefully a .270 or higher batting average. A) It’s better than what they had, and B) At least this deal has good long-term potential, rather than just being a oneyear bridge to the unknown. So I can’t complain. An added bonus is that he apparently has a cannon arm in the outfield. He had a full 20 outfield assists in 2007 at AA Erie. His totals in other seasons have also been respectable. One more incentive for Joyce to play here is that he was born in Tampa and played at Armwood High School, in addition to Lakelandbased Florida Southern College. (Sidenote: Florida Southern happens to be the arch rival of my new school, The University of Tampa.) So he will now be truly playing at home. Welcome to the team.
On the other end of the deal, Edwin Jackson’s trade opens up a starting rotation spot for David Price. Even better is the fact that the Mets didn’t get him.
I’ll be back when the Rays make any more big moves. Until then, go American League Champion Rays.