With Wil Myers getting the call up to the Rays will be able to move Kelly Johnson around the diamond to give others a day off but most importantly it may give Johnson necessary rest and the ability to stay strong for the duration of the 2013 season. In addition to having a rested team the Rays bench will receive a boost with the inclusion of Johnson or whichever player he fills in for.
Johnson got off to a tremendous start for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. Through the end of May he had an OPS (on-base% + slugging %) of .784 with a slash line (batting average/on-base%/slugging%) of .256/.351/.433. hitting 9 home runs, driving in 26, and had stolen 5 bases.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to sustain the hot start and from June 1st to the end of the season he had an OPS of .618 with a slash line of .208/.292/.327 and he only added 7 home runs and 4 stolen bases.
His poor finish was a main reason that he became a bargain bin free agent for the Rays who signed him for 1-year $2.45 million contract after making $6.375 million with the Blue Jays in 2012. One reason Johnson alluded to for his declining numbers in 2012 was being worn down over the course of the season possibly due to the tough field turf for infielders in Toronto.
Fast forward to 2013 and once again he began the season on fire posting an OPS through May of .894 with an impressive slash line of .287/.352/.541 with 1o home runs, 34 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. But like 2012 his numbers are beginning to tail off and midway through the month he finds himself mired in a slump hitting just .109 (5 for 56) and he has not hit a home run since belting two 3-run homers on May 27th. Some of the slump may be attributed to a stiff back a condition that forced him to miss time early in the month. Not coincidentally, the field turf at Tropicana Field is tough on outfielders and that is where Johnson has spent most of his time this season.
Although there are no reports of Johnson’s back being a lingering issue the call up of Wil Myers will allow the Rays to give him ample rest and keep him fresh the remainder of the season. Additionally, he will be able to spell multiple players all over the diamond. When he first signed with the Rays he said that the main variable was opportunity and said of the prospect of playing multiple positions “I’m open to anything, I’m excited to be part of it.”
With that in mind the Rays have already used him in left field (293 innings), second base (50 innings), third base (36 innings), and first base (11 innings). With the arrival of Myers look for him to still get ample plate appearances but he will have to bring a bag full of gloves to the park with him.
Some days he’ll spell James Loney at 1b, Evan Longoria at 3b, he may be filling in for Wil Myers or Matt Joyce but maybe in those instances he plays 2b while Ben Zobrist goes to the outfield, or he can play 2b while Zobrist gives Escobar a day off at shortstop. Joe Maddon has many options to maneuver his starting lineup and provide rest for all but maybe more importantly the bench got stronger.
Legendary manager Whitey Herzog said that a manager does not manage against the other teams starting nine because the divide of talent between the two teams is usually not that wide. He said that the real battle are the matchups between the teams benches and bullpens.
Wil Myers will not only provide a boost to the Rays offense but his inclusion to the team has made the bench stronger by having either Kelly Johnson or whoever he is filling in for ready to help in the late innings.