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Joyce for Jepsen Trade Immediately Makes Rays Better


It was written in the Florida sands that the Tampa Bay Rays might trade their left-handed outfielder Matt Joyce before spring training. 

Some would say it was out of the Rays usual character to trade 2 player’s straight-up for one another. But then again, until this afternoon we did not know of the Rays heightened want to find an immediate stop-gap to fill an early 2015 seasonal void left by an unforeseen pitching injury and subsequent surgery.

imagesSo the swapping of Joyce and reliever Kevin Jepsen takes on a far different hue than the usual off season trade of two players as Jepsen will be called upon immediately fill a late inning void left by the injury of Rays closer Jake McGee.

McGee who had been previously diagnosed with loose foreign bodies in his left pitching elbow and has undergone surgery and should not return to the team until possibly late May or early June. This leaves the Rays with two players, McGee and SP Matt Moore who both might not hit the mound until a third of the 2015 season is complete.

c2s_joyce092811_193072a_8colAn interesting side note to this trade by the Rays and Angels is that both players will be leaving their hometown teams and journey across the country to play in 2015. Matt Joyce of course was born in Tampa , Florida and Kevin Jepsen was born in Anaheim, California.

Another similarity between the two players in this trade is Matt Joyce (May 5th  with the Tigers) and Jepsen (September 8th ) both made their MLB Debuts in 2008.

So what kind of reliever did the Rays get when they traded for Jepsen?

If his stats are any true indication, the Rays will get a solid competitor who could be slotted in the Rays late inning 7th, 8th inning roles without hesitation. The injury to McGee and the previous trade of Joel Peralta would already redefine the late inning roles of the Rays Bullpen, but this injury takes one more talented and experienced arm out of the equation and demanded a direct sub sequential move to eliminate this hole in the Rays reliever corps.

A little background on Jepsen’s career with the Angels:

images (1)He come to the Rays after appearing in 315 games with the Halos, which ranked him 5th All-Time on their Career Appearance list.

Jepsen is only 1 of 4 relievers ever to play at least 7 seasons with the club. Interesting factoid, former Angel and Rays closer Troy Percival leads that list overall with 10 seasons playing for Angels.

He ended his Angels career in 10th  place on the Angels All-Time list with an career mark of 8.69/K’s per 9 innings.

Jepsen is currently under salary arbitration this off season with him projected to receive a salary of possibly $2.6 million and Jepsen will also be under team control for another season.

images (3)The trade could also have some financial relief for the Rays as the swap could save the Rays $2.4 million as Joyce was estimated to receive possibly $5 million for 2015 through salary arbitration.

2014 was Jepsen’s best season in the MLB appearing in 74 games with a 2.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts and .05 HR per 9 innings mark.

His 74 game appearances in 2014 ranked 4th in the American League and was bettered only by fellow Angel Joe Smith (76) and the Indians duo of Cody Allen (76) and Bryan Shaw (80).

Jepsen also ranked 8th in the AL in Holds with 22 and he earned 2 saves in 2014.

He throws a 4-seam fastball(95-99 mph), a 2-seam fastball (94-97) a cutter (89-93) and a curveball (83-86 mph). His cutter is usually reserved for right-handers while his 2-seam fastball is used primarily against left-handers. Jepsen also uses his curve in 2-strike counts on hitters.

images (2)Oh, and he is not related to former Rays Concert performer Carly Rae Jepsen  who was born in Mission, British Columbia. That is a good thing, remember Carly’s First Pitch.

With the injury to McGee the Rays had to act quickly to find an experienced relief option to plug right in fill the relief corps void. Jepsen has the statistics and experience to come right in this spring and compete for a Bullpen spot as well as be a viable and consistent option to place in the late inning role previously held by Peralta.

Rays were swift, did their due diligence and quite possibly got the guy who could be an extremely valuable asset to the Rays late inning machine for the next 2 seasons.


Nielson Provided Us with a Baseball Gem of Comedic Brilliance


He has appeared in over 1,500 television programs and 100 films, but the one scene that still means Leslie Nielson to me is the scene at old Angels Stadium in the comedy “The Naked Gun :From the Files of Police Squad“. You know the scene I am talking about. Nielson is playing Lt. Frank Drebin in the classic comedy scene and he is at the Angels versus Mariners game looking for the man that is going to try and assassinate British monarch Queen Elizabeth.

Drebin(Neilson) wanders into the Umpire’s Room at the stadium and don’s the uniform and pads of the Home Plate Umpire for that afternoon’s contest. What transpires, from the moonwalk to the constant body frisking during the course of the game is comedic gold. From the point of watching Neilson’s straight man George Kennedy eating multiple types of food just beyond the field level to the final climatic moment where Baseball Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson becomes a transfixed killing zombie.

The film itself is one of those classic tongue-in-cheek comedies that you see something different every time you watch it . But the baseball scene is one of the best comedic filmed moments since Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First“. No other clip, not even during “Major League ” did I find myself laughing so much and wishing I could personally see even a fraction of the great stuff shown on that big screen. It was one of those movies I did go and watch inventively more than once when it was originally released in 1991.

It saddens me today to hear the news that Leslie Neilson has died in his sleep recently in the Florida community of Fort Lauderdale because of complications from a bout with pneumonia. The duo comedic masks must all have frowns today as we lost a true giant of a man who could do the pratfall and slapstick style of comedy with a expression and a demeanor that showed his versatility as an actor.

Even though this was the only film Nielson did with baseball ties, his portrayal in this first installment of “The Naked Gun” trilogy was one of the moments that got me hooked on the former Canadian disk jockey. Some might say his acting on such classics as the “Poseidon Adventure” or even “Airplane” should be more remembered than his slight foray into the comedy realm. “The Naked Gun” trilogy based on the short-lived television series “Police Squad” became an instant classic.

Well known Chicago Film critic Roger Ebert even went as far as to proclaim Neilson “ the (Sir Lawrence) Olivier of spoofs“. No bigger homage can be paid to an actor either comedic or serious in nature. Excuse me while I leave no to again marvel and bask in the comedy styling’s of Neilson again today and remember a man who gave us a great baseball moment without even picking up a bat, or throwing a single pitch.