ANAHEIM ‚Äì As much as, “it’s early”, is a highly subjective and selective phrase, it holds truth to individual performances this early in the season. Understandably, fantasy owners hawk at their players’ stats like overly impatient stock investors, but everyone’s season goes through stretches over the course of the season that veers up and down like every heartbeat seen on an EKG.
Therefore, it is best to reserve judgment on some of the new faces fresh off the transaction sheet, like LA Angels left fielder Matt Joyce.
With theAngels sendingJosh Hamilton back to the Texas Rangers ending all hope for a rebound, Joyce’s importance to the team increases. While he is currently one of four Angel starters batting below .200, manager Mike Scioscia understands the importance of waiting out any dry spell so long as it is backed by a stable track record.
“I think you certainly have to giveMatt [Joyce]some sort of leash,” Scioscia said. “You have to give Chris Iannetta enough of a leash. These guys have proven what they can do with their track record. They will get there.”
Joyce came to the Angels from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade that cost themreliever Kevin Jepsen. Scioscia recently had discussion of former Angels bench coach and Cubs manager Joe Madden, who previously managed Joyce from 2009-2014. Even then, Scioscia is a man who likes to see to believe.
“Players sometimes adjust,” Scioscia said.”You always want that fresh perspective with evaluating players. Anytime players move, they have a lot of contacts in the league, you hear stuff about players and it’s all good information but I really think you have to have the ability to put it all on the side and see for yourself.”
At best, Joyce is a Billy Bean dream. Despite hitting .254 with only nine home runs and 52 RBI in 140 at-bats, he drew a career high 64 walks and finished the season with a .349 on-base percentage.
He went hitless in his last 26 at-bats prior to breaking thatslump on Sunday’s 5-4 extra-inning loss to the Texas Rangers.
“I haven’t exactly been tearing the cover off the ball,” Joyce said after the gamein a way that inspires the visual of himauditioning to be the next Captain Obvious in the Hotels.com commercials.”Sometimes it’s a tough game.
“It seems like you try everything, and you put in so much time and effort and work, it gets to be frustrating. It gets to be hard to swallow and accept it, and hard to keep showing up and grinding it out.”
When he got that hit, he said it waslike”a relief. Like, oh God, finally I got a hit.” One could imagine Joyce expressing the same jubilation of Tim Robbins’ character in “Shawshank Redemption” when he escaped prison.
Joyce could easily go into a hot streak with that slump now behind him. Once again, patience is of most importance with Joyce this early in the season.
“I’m sure he’s had tough50-at-bat stretches before,” Scioscia said on Joyce. “It’s just magnified now because it’s in the beginning. You can take any little cross-section and say, ‘Well what about this one or what about that?’ You’re naked at the beginning of the season. Everything is out there when you’re struggling. There’s no hiding it. They’ll figure it out. You have to keep going. There’s still a long time here.”
On the other side though,the Angels can’t simply wait till the early strugglers hangs themselves with theirown leash. Adjustments will have to be made where new, fresh talent can come in and take overfor a game or twojust to give the team a boost with at little to no risk. That’s where rookie utility man Grant Green comes in. The 27-year-old former USC Trojan was recently called up and made his 2015 debut on Saturday and went 2-for-3 with two runs scored while playing second base. He can play both the infield and outfield and is mainly meant for offense. He can basically sub in forthree struggling starters while boosting the Angels’ offensive output.
“Grant has the ability to bring some versatility,” Scioscia said. “So he’ll get some starts in multiple positions. Yesterday, he got one at second so we’ll seewhen the next one comes in.”
As painful as it is to say, it’s still early.
Tony Capobianco started the SMDP column “Cap Space” just in time for the 2014-15 Clippers season. You can contact him via email at email@example.com.