Tampa Bay Rays: Miller Upset, Out as Shortstop

Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Brad Miller (13) singles during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Brad Miller (13) singles during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Brad Miller conveys his displeasure to the media on the announcement made by Kevin Cash that he no longer will be the everyday shortstop.

Monday’s trade that sent Matt Moore to the San Francisco Giants resulted in the Tampa Bay Rays acquiring four players. Three players are prospects who a still a few years away from playing in the majors, while the fourth is a proven major league third baseman.

Matt Duffy is the third baseman acquired and though he is currently on the disabled list with a strained Achilles, his presence is already a cause for concern as current shortstop Brad Miller made it known of his displeasure.

If you ask why Miller would be displeased it’s because the Tampa Bay Rays have told him that when Duffy is activated later this month he will assume the position as the everyday shortstop and that he [Miller] will spend time at first and the outfield.

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Defensively Miller has been adequate, though not exceptional at short this season and the Tampa Bay Rays feel that Duffy will give them the best chance to win.

Adequate defensively isn’t enough to win ballgames – not when you have committed 13 errors in 91 games.

"“Obviously pretty disappointing,” Miller said before Tuesday’s night game against Kansas City. “They said him playing shortstop was our best chance to win. I’ve been playing very well and I feel like I’ve only gotten better. It was a punch in the gut them telling me he’s our shortstop now.”“I feel like I’ve done everything I needed to do to keep the job, and they didn’t see it that way. The same thing happened in Seattle. But I’m a professional and, obviously, I’m a young player and I have to do whatever they say.”"

Miller spent the first two of his three years of his career with Seattle starting the majority of the time at shortstop (167 starts) with an occasional start at third and second. During this span, he committed a combined total of 27 errors, 18 of those while at short.

Last year, his final year with the Mariners, Miller not only started at shortstop (83), but also made starts at all three outfield positions (combined 64 starts) and as well added starts at second base (five).

During this span, Miller committed a combined total 18 errors on the season, 14 coming out of the shortstop position, leading the Mariners to replace him as their shortstop.

Despite being well aware of his problems at shortstop, the Rays stuck with Miller made the trade in hopes he would attain significant improvement working with the Tampa Bay Rays coaching staff.

Although there has been some improvement defensively, it’s clear that it wasn’t sufficient and   therefore had to go forward with the change.

Miller enters Wednesday’s game tied for third among AL shortstops with 13 errors. His .959 fielding percent ranked last.

Entering Wednesday’s game Miller is hitting .249 with 17 homers and 39 RBIs and it’s obvious that his offensive production has been an asset to the Tampa Bay Rays this season. For what it’s worth, perhaps one of the main reasons he was acquired.

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No trade is easy to accept, especially when it concerns the player(s) that will be affected the most by it.

Miller though is still young and has the versatility to become a decent first baseman and for that fact a decent outfielder. He should look at this move in a positive way, not negatively which is the way it’s coming off as.

Not many teams would give him this opportunity, but the Tampa Bay Rays have and are willing and able to see him succeed.

However, if he took the time to look at his statistics not only from the major league level but the minors as well, he could clearly see why the Tampa Bay Rays  made the decision.

The Tampa Bay Rays have done their due diligence in regards to Duffy.

They’ve like him for a number of years and tried to acquire him as part of a trade that would have sent Ben Zobrist to the Giants, but they turned the Rays down and Zobrist was dealt to Oakland.

Duffy came up as a shortstop, but was blocked by Brandon Crawford and because of the problems that the Giants were having at the hot corner last season, by late May Duffy was their everyday third baseman.

The rest is history as Duffy went on to have a fantastic season, batting .295 with 12 HR and 77 RBIs.

Additionally, he was runner-up for the NL Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove Finalist and the Willie Mac Award winner, which is voted on by the Giant’s players to the most inspirational player.

This season in just 69 games, Duffy has committed five errors in 190 chances – those coming all at third base. Between 2014 and 2015, Duffy started six games at shortstop and committed just two errors in 34 chances.

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It’s clear that Duffy has the edge defensively over Miller and the Tampa Bay Rays have made the right decision.

As for his offense, he doesn’t have a ton of power but he hits to all fields and he doesn’t strike out very much.

No matter which way you look at this, Duffy is a very solid player who the Tampa Bay Rays has coveted and considers him to be one missing puzzle piece in the diamond.

Next: Rays Trades: Deals Send Guyer, Moore and Pearce Packing

The other piece would be having Miller at first, who could become very good defensively in time because of his athleticism.