Joyce, Larish analyzed

Dave · December 9, 2008 at 10:16 am · Filed Under Mariners 

So, as Jason (!) noted below, and Baker blogged about the last couple of days, the Mariners and Tigers are almost certainly talking about a deal that would send J.J. Putz to Detroit. Speculation has the Mariners wanting some combination of prospects that would include Matt Joyce or Jeff Larish, as both are left-handed hitters with some power, and Zduriencik has made it no secret that his goal is to add some LH power to the roster.

Now, because both are guys that most non-Detroit fans will know little about, it’s easy to lump them together as similar prospects. They aren’t. Joyce is the far superior talent, and it’s not even close.

Larish is a 26-year-old with the classic first baseman skillset – significant raw pull power, a patient approach at the plate, and contact problems. He swings for the fences and his value lies in hitting the ball really far, hoping that it makes up for his lack of contact. His career minor league K% is around 25%, so he’s not Russ Branyan, but he’s going to strike out a lot. That lack of contact will keep his average in the .250 to .270 range, and even though he draws his fair share of walks and has power, that limits his absolute upside to something like a .260/.350/.500 player, and he’s only got about a 10% chance of being that good. Unless he developed into a plus defender (unlikely), that makes him an average player at best, and more likely he ends up having something like Eric Hinske’s career.

Joyce, on the other hand, has less power but a better spread of skills. Like Larish, he swings and misses a lot, and he won’t be a high average guy, but his significantly better athleticism allows him to provide real defensive value and a skill set that has room for growth. Tigers fans thought he was a pretty terrific defensive outfielder, and while the sample is way too small for it to have strong meaning, UZR agrees with their assessment. In many ways, he’s similar to Jayson Werth – an athletic OF with good defense, gap power, and enough walks to offset the strikeouts.

Honestly, I think Joyce has a better long term future than Wladimir Balentien, who I know many of you are still quite high on. The fact that he’s left-handed makes him a much better fit for Safeco, and his significantly better defense would be a welcome sight running around left field.

Honestly, I’d trade Putz for Joyce straight up, one for one. He’s probably something close to a league average corner outfielder right now (assuming that Tigers fans are right about his defense), at 24, with upside to get to a +3 or +3.5 win level. He’d also be under team control through 2014.

If the Tigers want to give the Mariners a package that includes Joyce and other stuff, it’s going to be a massive steal for the M’s. If it’s just Joyce, it’s still a great trade. If it’s Larish and stuff, then I’m less excited, but would still listen depending on what the other stuff was.


115 Responses to “Joyce, Larish analyzed”

  1. ML on December 9th, 2008 11:57 pm

    ec, Dave’s “True Value” (apologies to John Madden) calculations are sometimes a little fishy IMHO.

    (K-Rod) is worth about +2 wins more than a replacement reliever.


    Sorry, I don’t buy that either, unless by replacement reliever Dave really meant replacement closer!


  2. ThundaPC on December 10th, 2008 1:35 am

    What about that analysis don’t you buy, ML?

  3. Tek Jansen on December 10th, 2008 6:29 am

    “Sorry, I don’t buy that either, unless by replacement reliever Dave really meant replacement closer!”

    ML, closers are relievers who, by pitching in a certain inning, acquire a fairly random stat invented by Jerome Holtzman.

  4. Future Redbirds on December 10th, 2008 6:53 am

    I would have to think M’s fans would rather have Rick Ankiel than Matt Joyce, right?

  5. Dave on December 10th, 2008 6:55 am

    I know the Mets were interested at one point in Putz, if not the Tribe. That, Dave, is lost leverage.

    There were 5 or 6 teams who were shopping for a closer this winter, and there were 5 or 6 closers available on the market. Two teams signed closers, which takes two teams out of the market for Putz… and two closers off the market.

    There’s no lost leverage at all. The demand and supply decreased simultaneously.

    I’ve given amble evidence, as well as backup from the fine folks at BP, as to why I don’t see Joyce as a Dunn/Burrell/Ibanez in waiting.

    I called him a “left-handed Jayson Werth”, not an “Adam Dunn in waiting”. But, I guess we’re just seeing the results of what happens when someone relies on BP for actual analysis anymore.

    Whether or not you take “I’ve see him” as a consideration, scouts and organizations do it every day.

    You really think scouts sit around saying things like “I don’t think he’s that good” and fail to offer any substance to back up their points? I’m not rejecting subjective reasoning – I’m questioning why anyone should care about your subjective reasoning. You haven’t given anyone here any reason to give your opinion any kind of credence.

    If it was all about small sample sets, Jeremy Reed would have been anointed based on his 2004 audition. Oh wait, he was anointed. At any rate, our views may vary.

    If only someone was writing about how that small sample wasn’t predictive. Oh, wait, there was. That was us.

    Comments like “our views may vary” are pointless. If you want anyone to care about your view, you have to give them a reason to think you know what you’re talking about.

    I think Joyce has the very real potential to be an average player as per your guidelines, but an average player does not an average corner outfielder make.

    Guess what – an average player is an average player is an average player. The fact that you don’t recognize this doesn’t make it less true. Read BP less, get away from valuing offense as 99% of a player’s value, and you’ll be amazed what you can learn.

    No comment re: dumping Putz coming off the 3.88 ERA/1.60 WHIP campaign? Seems a bit panicky to me…

    My comment: I wished you would have used ERA and WHIP earlier, so I could have realized that you’re still stuck in 1996.

  6. Dave on December 10th, 2008 7:32 am

    I would have to think M’s fans would rather have Rick Ankiel than Matt Joyce, right?

    Nope. Ankiel is an FA after 2009. Joyce makes the league minimum until 2012. The difference in present value is overwhelmed by the difference in future salary.

  7. gwangung on December 10th, 2008 7:43 am

    So the average OPS for a LF was .766. Probably higher still for RF. A .750 OPS with ++ defense seems a little grim to me for Putz, that is my primary point.

    And it’s STILL not very well supported. At best, it’s anecdotal, without looking at the empirical evidence (which Dave has kindly supplied) of what the market is actually offering, and what statistical methods are saying.

  8. TheImmortalAzcue on December 10th, 2008 7:52 am


    A .750 OPS with ++ defense is Ichiro! There’s nothing grim about Ichiro!

  9. mymrbig on December 10th, 2008 8:28 am

    Dave, looking around at other teams still wanting a closer, how does Joyce compare to Joe Mather of the Cards?

    Mather is 2 years older and is RH, but has plenty of other similarities with Joyce (good defense in small sample size, good power, plenty of K’s, under team control through 2014).

    Looking a little deeper, Mather’s BABIP (.258 with a 21.6 LD%) drags down his overall numbers, but with more even luck his numbers would look pretty good. And he has more defensive versatility than Joyce (the Cards gave him some time at 1st, 3rd, and CF, in addition to LF and RF). Might give the M’s another option at 3rd, plus the OF corners. Age is the biggest problem though. Even if you buy that he is a late bloomer, his is 26.

  10. eponymous coward on December 10th, 2008 8:32 am

    Sorry, I don’t buy that either, unless by replacement reliever Dave really meant replacement closer!

    That’s nice that you don’t buy it, but since Dave’s shown his work going into why he values K-Rod the way he does and you haven’t, why should I care what you think?

    You seem to think making unsupported assertions is a good way to win an argument. Perhaps you should reconsider that.

  11. Evan on December 10th, 2008 9:09 am

    Zduriencik has made it no secret that his goal is to add some LH power

    I’d like to remind everyone that Bavasi often thought he needed to add “left-handed sock” to the team, but he utterly failed to do so.

    So this isn’t new in terms of strategy, but it’s certainly new in terms of execution.

  12. Damn Yankees on December 10th, 2008 9:14 am

    Before everyone freaks out that this potential trade would mean Morrow would head back to the pen as closer remember that the M’s already have a former closer on staff in Miguel Bautista.

    I’m not saying that Bautista is good at closing ball games (there is little evidence other than one season in Arizona) but wouldn’t it make more sense to keep Morrow in the rotation, and than move Miggy to closing out ball games? Does anyone have any idea on how Miggy would project as a closer (I’m assuming not that well)?

    Granted, the best solution would be to trade Bautista for a ham sandwich, clear his salary, and sign someone cheap on the up and up, but if we are stuck with his contract would this be the best possible situation for the whole of the team?

  13. xxtinynickxx on December 10th, 2008 10:17 am

    The next season or two should have a theme song and it should be The Killers – Exitlude

  14. terry on December 10th, 2008 11:08 am

    It’s a little early to be calling Joyce a +10 defender I think. But it’s probably a reasonable risk to think he could be league average bat in his major league career.

  15. mymrbig on December 10th, 2008 12:22 pm

    Hmm, I throw out the Mather-for-Putz querry, and now Rosenthal is reporthing that the Cards offered Ankiel “and a prospect” for Putz. “And a prospect” is basically a worthless phrase since it can mean anything from Colby Rasmus to some dude none of us have ever heard of who has a good arm, but is only 17.

    Still, it is an interesting offer. Ankiel is a free agent after 2009 and I don’t see him as a good center-piece for any Putz trade. The only exception is that he could probably be spun-off to a team like Atlanta or the Yankees for a decent return. Still, I don’t know that I would pull a trigger on that offer without knowing whether Ankiel could be spun-off, and what for.

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