In a news item that we’ve been expecting but still gives us a little shock to our system, Luke Scott has come off the 15-day DL, with Sean Rodriguez being optioned to Triple-A to clear room on the roster.
Let’s start by talking about Rodriguez, who by the way is still just 27. Rodriguez has struggled through a miserable season, managing just a .215/.278/.330 line with 14 doubles, 6 homers, 32 RBI, 5 of 5 steals, and 72 strikeouts versus 24 walks in 106 games and 335 plate appearances while playing 35 or more games each at shortstop, third base, and second base. His versatility is great, but his OPS+ dipped from 95 from 2010-2011 all the way down to just 72 (28% below league average) and it was time to make a move. The weird thing is the timing of this. Elliot Johnson has been better than Rodriguez offensively on the season, managing an 87 OPS+, but Johnson is in a relatively extended slump, going just 7 for his last 44 (.159 BA) while Rodriguez has come on of late, going 6 for his last 16 (.375). Why not option Johnson? The difference is that Rodriguez has a minor league option remaining, meaning that the Rays can send him down to the minor leagues without exposing his to waivers, while Johnson has no options remaining. And it’s not like Rodriguez will be gone a long time, only until September 1st, when rosters expand to 40. And by the way, the Rays have a couple of players who will miss the remainder of the season, Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos, so getting Rodriguez onto the playoff roster won’t be a problem if the Rays so desire. It has to be frustrating for Rodriguez, but the Rays are making the right move as it’s stupid for them to lose Johnson for just 10 extra days of Luke Scott, and this will be the best for the long term.
In Scott, the Rays are getting back a power bat and a player who led the team in RBIs for a good portion of the season. On the year, Scott has managed a .225/.279/.438 line (99 OPS+) with 13 doubles, 12 homers, and 45 RBI in 68 games and 262 plate appearances. Scott has apparently forgotten how to walk, walking just 14 times versus 57 strikeouts this season after walking more than half the times he struck out basically his entire career, although not in 236 plate appearances in 2011 either, but his overall numbers are not nearly as bad as they look as Scott endured his team record 0 for 39 slump. Before the slump, he had a .236/.299/.455 on the season, while since the day he broke the slump, his line has been .385/.415/.769- but in just 41 plate appearances as he’s been injured. The Rays hope that Scott can continue his pre-injury hot streak and while Scott is no .385 hitter by any stretch, he has the ability to be a productive player for the Rays the remainder of the season and the Rays expect him to do just that.
With Scott out, the Rays had the DH spot open and since Evan Longoria has come back. Now with Scott resuming his DH spot, the Rays had to be confident that Evan Longoria will be able to handle third base. The Rays believe that is the case.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times talked to Longoria (and Joe Maddon) about returning to the field.
Longoria might not make all the Gold Glove plays initially in the field, but it’s great to see him back out there and hopefully everything will go OK.