Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rays' demotion of Price a 'baseball decision'?

Jason Hammel or Jeff Niemann.

This will be the answer to the trivia question, in a bar somewhere, to the question, who beat out David Price for the Rays' 5th starting pitching job in 2009.

Welcome to small-time baseball, with your host Tampa Bay.

The Rays came from obscurity and mediocrity last season, shocking the baseball world with a World Series berth most thought belonged to the Red Sox.

They accomplished this with a tiny budget, using frugal means, retread closers, young players and a rising pitching staff.

Nothing's change a year later. The Rays are somewhere between frugal and cheap. The difference may be simply how you were raised.

I used to think they were simply frugal. Now, after David Price's demotion to AAA to start the season - a year after they did the same thing with All-Star Evan Longoria - I'm convinced they're simply cheap.

Frugal is not going out and signing overrated Pat Burrell to a 2-year, $16 million contract and then a few months later try to play off the Price demotion as purely a "baseball decision." The change-up and slider location simply are not worthy.

C'mon. Ask J.D. Drew about Price's slider location.

Through 8 1/3 Spring Training innings, Price has a 1.08 ERA, striking out 10 and walking 6 (Hammel a 4.95 ERA; Niemann a 6.32).

Earlier today, XM interviewed St. Pete Times beat writer Marc Topkin, who said Price's change-up had gone from suspect to one of the best 3 or 4 change-ups on the whole staff after he worked on it in the offseason.

The change-up that the Rays are most interested is the number of dollars they'll be able to sign Price in a long-term deal, ala Evan Longoria, who they were able to coax into signing a 6-year, $17.5 million deal days after calling him up in mid-April last spring.

Longoria, widely believed to be one of the top-hitting 3B in the game already, was worth way more than $3 million a year. Sure, the deal has 3 option years attached, which would raise the total deal to $44 over 9 years, but they are team options and that still isn't anywhere near market value.

Basically, it's his contract price that ultimately cost Price a demotion.

Cue appropriate Alanis Morissette ditty.

Fantasy Spin: What to do with David Price? This will haunt fantasy owners for the next 1-2 months. If your league has bench spot, it's a no-brainer. Stash and wait. It's leagues where you have no bench spots, where it gets sticky. What is Price's value for, say, 4 or 5 months, compared to the next best waiver option? I'm betting that Price is called up mid-May and that he'll outperform your NBO (next best option) in every category, besides possibly wins. Even in my 10-team Observer mixed league, I'm not planning on dropping him. Just too much talent. And he's just fun to watch.


GoRays said...

Why rush Price? Even without him in the lineup you still have one of the best staffs in baseball. Niemann is coming around and deserves the shot. Niemann would be a starter on most teams. I think it is a very good "baseball decision" to send Price down. This is only his second season in pro ball. Most of it was pitching against mediocre talent in AA and A. Give him a month or two at AAA and bring him up. Smart move Rays!