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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SP Times: Romano: Rays would be wise to send Longoria back to Durham

Over His Dead Body!

His time is near, on that we can all agree. The tricky part is defining near. If you are Evan Longoria, then opening day sounds like the nearest thing to heaven. If you are a Rays fan, after seeing another Longoria home run on Tuesday, then you probably agree the nearer the better.

But if you are in charge of finessing baseball’s future in Tampa Bay, then near can actually mean late April. It can even mean early May. It can mean you are nearer than ever to making an unpopular decision.

Sometime in the next few days the Rays have to choose whether Longoria is going to be their starting third baseman on opening day, or whether he will return to Triple A for another month or two.

Will an extra 100 at-bats in the minors benefit Longoria?

Probably not.

Will that extra time in the minors benefit the Rays?

Immensely.

Repoz Posted: March 19, 2008 at 11:48 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays

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   1. Latnam's first name is Bob Lemon's middle name Posted: March 19, 2008 at 12:18 PM (#2715253)
I have two reasons to be opposed to this. One is my fantasy team. The other is I'm taking my first trip ever to New York on April 3-5, and I'm going to they Yanks/Rays game the night of the 4th, and I'd just like to see Longoria in action.
   2. faketeams Posted: March 19, 2008 at 12:47 PM (#2715261)
We know too much now. The Rays are sending him down to get an extra year of control.
   3. formerly dp Posted: March 19, 2008 at 01:24 PM (#2715276)
I had him on my roster from last year, but decided to keep Hamilton instead. Hoping it was the right call...
   4. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 19, 2008 at 01:35 PM (#2715282)
This type of reasoning is why Tampa Bay will never be a good team.
   5. 100 Years is Nothing Posted: March 19, 2008 at 01:47 PM (#2715290)
[This type of reasoning is why Tampa Bay will never be a good team./quote]

Are you crazy? This is just common sense roster maneuvering to control a good young player for an extra year. Name me one team that doesn't do that.
   6. pkb33 Posted: March 19, 2008 at 02:04 PM (#2715307)
The Royals, for one, with Gordon. The Indians with Sizemore sort of fit, though he got time the prior September. We could come up with others.

I think with uber-prospects the goal is to do what will help them succeed and not to obsess about an event 2-5 years away. I see the argument for holding Longoria back, but for a team who is trying to be taken seriously I would say that if their development guys believe he's ready they should simply play him instead of Aybar and try to make a statement there. They have the revenue/low payroll to sign him to an early extension if need be, anyway, and that goal is part of why I think legit impact guys are different on this issue.

It'll be interesting to see what they do here.
   7. Shredder Posted: March 19, 2008 at 02:07 PM (#2715313)
Are you crazy? This is just common sense roster maneuvering to control a good young player for an extra year. Name me one team that doesn't do that.
The Tigers.
   8. faketeams Posted: March 19, 2008 at 02:24 PM (#2715324)
What is that extra year worth? Seven years in the future for an athlete who is unproven would put the guess around nothing. To make it more frustrating, Wily Aybar is the placeholder.
   9. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: March 19, 2008 at 02:29 PM (#2715332)
Are you crazy? This is just common sense roster maneuvering to control a good young player for an extra year. Name me one team that doesn't do that.


Mariners, but maybe they should have.
   10. Bad Doctor Posted: March 19, 2008 at 02:32 PM (#2715334)
This sort of maneuvering certainly makes sense to the team, but it just smacks of bad faith. If you're the Rays, you need the system to keep young players cheap and stuck with you for as long as possible. You should be very careful about this sort of tinkering ... it's penny wise, but it could prove pound foolish come the next CBA.

What's odd to me is, they didn't do this with Kazmir, and he had such little experience above A ball (8 starts at AA, none at AAA) that it wouldn't have suggested bad faith in the slightest. Though that might've been due to the wisdom of Lamar.
   11. formerly dp Posted: March 19, 2008 at 02:53 PM (#2715353)
I thought they have Hinske as well? The Cards sent down Rasmus. Is Jay Bruce next?

Upton is starting in RF for the D'bags this year, right?
   12. scareduck Posted: March 19, 2008 at 03:04 PM (#2715370)
The other is I'm taking my first trip ever to New York on April 3-5, and I'm going to they Yanks/Rays game the night of the 4th, and I'd just like to see Longoria in action.

There are good reasons to watch college ball. Some of them lately have been named Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, and Evan Longoria, all former CSULB Dirtbags.
   13. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: March 19, 2008 at 03:43 PM (#2715413)
There are good reasons to watch college ball. Some of them lately have been named Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, and Evan Longoria, all former CSULB Dirtbags.

How far Bobby Crosby has fallen.
   14. CSULB Guy Posted: March 19, 2008 at 04:18 PM (#2715451)
Hey, we've got yet another shortstop in the pipeline, following in the footsteps of Crosby, Tulowitzki, and Longoria. His name is Danny Espinosa. Although he started out red-hot in the first series or two, he's been in a bit of a slump since then. After 16 games, he's hitting .328/.449/.525. After starting the season in the #3 lineup spot, he's been batting leadoff lately.

One thing to note: 12 of those 16 games have been home games, and Blair Field is one of the most extreme pitchers parks in all of college baseball. But we've also got a first baseman hitting .410/.507/.607.

And the Friday pitcher, Andrew Liebel, has a 1.11 ERA after four games, 32 innings. That's 20 hits, 3 BB, 1 HR, and 36 K's in 32.1 innings. (OK, it is a pitchers park. but that still catches your attention.)

Description of Blair Field:
- Just a few feet above sea level.
- Ocean-influenced climate; cool evenings, especially in May and June.
- Symmetric park, wind often in from RF or across from right to left.
- Outfield wall concrete, at least 10 feet high.
- About 340 down the lines, but dropping steeply right at the lines. Probably 375 by the time you're 30 feet off the lines. Then near-round from there.
- Massive foul territory, especially beyond the bases. It is common for outfield foul flies to drop in play untouched.
- Lighting for night games not up to major league standards.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2008 at 05:00 PM (#2715523)
I think this makes complete sense. They get an extra year of control, and Longoria doesn't lose much; he'll get very close to market price in his last arbitration year.

If I ran a team this would be standard operating procedure. It's just insane not to get an extra year before having to commit long term. Especially for guys that come up at age 23 or later. You pay them, fairly at age 29-30, but don't have to lock up their decline years.
   16. Mr2bits Posted: March 19, 2008 at 05:03 PM (#2715532)
Quick Hypo for those who can run numbers....What would the NL Central have looked like at seasons end if the Brwers had run out a full season of Ryan Braun last year?
   17. galaxieboi Posted: March 19, 2008 at 05:05 PM (#2715533)
How long has CSU Long Beach been a baseball hotbed? I remember them being awesome when I was in high school 10+ years ago.
   18. Brian Posted: March 19, 2008 at 07:03 PM (#2715728)
Mr2bits is exactly right, the Brewers screwed themselves last year. In the first ever season with real optimism doing this and missing the WC by a game would be a tragic mistake.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2008 at 07:10 PM (#2715741)
It's shocking to me to see a mainstream writer discussing this openly. Hell, most of them don't even seem to understand how arbitration works and get all excited that their team bought out somebody's arb years for less than FAs get.

But yeah, as #10 points out, too much of this ... and with the press starting to notice ... and the MLBPA will have no choice but to make trouble over it.

Also note, keeping him down for a month isn't necessarily going to save the Rays a lot of money. He'd be a super-2 at the end of 2010 ... he'd make a little less than if he had the full 3+ years but by his 4th year of arb he'll be making something close to market value.

Basically the only reason to do this would be if you've already decided that you're not interested in resigning him. Angling for that now would mark the Devil Rays as continuing to be a loser franchise.

Plus, there's a good chance he struggles early and gets sent down (legitimately) for a month or two anyway.

of course, by drawing attention to it, the reporter makes it difficult for the Devil Rays to actually do it.
   20. Tuque Posted: March 19, 2008 at 09:47 PM (#2715920)
Man, I just with the season would start, so I could stop hearing about what everyone might do and instead see what everyone actually does.

Whenever I think about baseball I get all stir-crazy up in here.
   21. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 02:17 AM (#2716060)
I don't think there is any question you send him down for the extra year of control. What is there to even discuss? If the Rays were sure fire contenders this year then it would make sense for him to start April in TB but most people seem to agree that the Devil Rays are still a year or two away (and the Rays don't play in the NL Central). If Longoria turns out to be as good as projected then he's not staying in Tampa Bay beyond his arb years regardless of what the Rays do now.

The BBPA can try to close the loophole at the CBA negotiations. In the meantime, it's exactly the kind of thing that teams like the Rays should be doing the minimize the big market teams' payroll advantage. It's just smart business. Longoria is not going to give the Rays a discount when his FA arrives because the Rays starting in the majors this spring so what's the downside?
   22. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 20, 2008 at 02:49 AM (#2716076)
What is there to even discuss?

The possibility that Longoria might not be thrilled about it. A) Nobody close to the big leagues likes to go down to the minors, and B) it's his pay day that's getting delayed. He's the last guy in the world the Rays want to piss off right now, why get off on the wrong foot with a guy who quite likely is going to have you over a barrel. If Longoria is going to be as good as everyone thinks, the Rays are going to need him infinitely more than he'll need them. If he's not, then the Rays are wasting their time anyway.

If Longoria is legitimately all smiles about it, okay. But if it's shrugged shoulders and "I just have to keep playing and not worry about that kind of stuff," well then it's simply not worth it.

This is assuming the Rays feel Longoria has legitimately won the job.
   23. Keith Law Posted: March 20, 2008 at 03:49 AM (#2716091)
Longoria is not going to give the Rays a discount when his FA arrives because the Rays starting in the majors this spring so what's the downside?


If a player has no more development ahead of him in the minors, then sending him down retards his development. I think Longoria is in that category.

It's only "smart business" when there's some question as to the player's readiness. Holding a player down when he's got nothing left to learn in AAA is stupid business. And that's even if we assign no value to the argument that Voros made about maintaining good relations with the player.
   24. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 20, 2008 at 04:24 AM (#2716104)
As Keith notes, decisions aren't made in a vacuum. Players talk to each other and see things that happen and I think the Rays need to be careful - the organization got a reputation for cheapness and incompetence stemming from how it was run during most of the first decade of its existence. It's one thing if, say, they want him to have more time in AAA because he struck out too much, but to demote a player they hope is one of the franchise cornerstones for a decade in order save the difference between year 6 salary + super-2 salary and year 7 salary + team-assigned salary that year seems like something that could backfire. The team is just at the point where the national media and fanbase are thinking of the team as more than a bunch of sad sacks.
   25. Eric J. Seidman Posted: March 20, 2008 at 04:26 AM (#2716105)
I agree with Keith here... if there's more he can learn down there and benefit from, fine, but that does not seem like it is the case. Keeping a guy down when he's ready to be up would be, well, dumb, because a) if he's ready then he is very likely to help you and b) if you have two guys that are ready at the same position odds are you can make a pretty good deal out of one of them.

I can't help but think of Ryan Howard in this instance; the guy was kept down too long and, as a result, will not be free agent eligible until he's about 33. Of course, I'm a Phillies fan and don't want him to ever be free agent eligible, but keeping a guy down when he's ready to be up sends the wrong message and is bad business.
   26. 1k5v3L Posted: March 20, 2008 at 04:31 AM (#2716107)
I wish the Dodgers would be this smart and send Kemp and Billingsley to AAA for a few months
   27. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 20, 2008 at 04:39 AM (#2716114)
I wish the Dodgers would be this smart and send Kemp and Billingsley to AAA for a few months

After this season, the rest of the NL West should go ahead and fund an extension for Ned Colitis.
   28. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 07:06 AM (#2716145)
I don't know what Longoria's exact service clock situation is (nor am I intimately familiar with the rules) so I will defer to Walt and Dan on whether from a money standpoint it makes sense to send Longoria down.

But I disagree that the money implications should not be a big consideration in whether Longoria gets sent down or not. If bringing Longoria up on May 1st pushes his free agency back a year (my understanding which may be wrong), how does it not make sense for Longoria to start the year in Durham? You are taking about trading a month of age-22 Longoria for a full year of his age 28 services.

Is playing every day for a month in AAA really going to retard his development that much? One month? Really?

As far Longoria maybe being a bit bitter about it, so what? How is Longoria going to have the Rays over a barrel? If he wants to maximize his arb and post-arb salaries then it will still be in Longoria's best-interest to play to the best of his ability for the next 6-7 years in Tampa Bay. Is the concern that he is going to tank it out of spite?

As far as the Rays being percieved as cheap and incompetent, this perception will change when the Rays start offering bigger salaries and the Rays start winning. Controlling Longoria (and all the other prospect coming up through the Devil Ray system) for an extra year increases the Rays chances of winning and winning will boost revenues will allow the Rays to offer higher salaries. Seems the upside outweighs the downside here.

IF Longoria lives up to the hype, he is probably a Yankee, Red Sox, Dodger, etc. when he hits the free agent market anyway so if you are the Devil Rays you should try to maximize the time that Longoria is a pre-free agent Devil Ray. Again if I have the service clock rules wrong and the choice is not trading a month of age-22 Longoria for a full year of age 28 Longoria then my analysis is obviously off base but if that is the choice, it seems liks a pretty easy one to me - taking in consideration where the Devil Rays are in the success cycle in 2008 and the fact that they play in the AL East (not the NL Central like the Brewers).
   29. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 07:24 AM (#2716148)
Quick follow up:

I suspect that this is really about people's sense of fairness. People don't think its fair to send a major league ready Longoria to Durham so they are coming up with reasons to rationalize why it doesn't make sense to send him to AAA - a month in AAA will retard his development or a bitter Longoria could screw the D-Rays (when in fact he'll no real leverage until free agency). I could be wrong but it's something that occured to me ...
   30. rfloh Posted: March 20, 2008 at 07:42 AM (#2716153)
As far Longoria maybe being a bit bitter about it, so what? How is Longoria going to have the Rays over a barrel? If he wants to maximize his arb and post-arb salaries then it will still be in Longoria's best-interest to play to the best of his ability for the next 6-7 years in Tampa Bay.


In your opinion then, the DRays should have not want to sign him to a long term deal, ie an arby buyout type deal that gives them a couple extra years of control via team options? Just go to arby year by year, and then be done with him after year 6?


As far as the Rays being percieved as cheap and incompetent, this perception will change when the Rays start offering bigger salaries and the Rays start winning. Controlling Longoria (and all the other prospect coming up through the Devil Ray system) for an extra year increases the Rays chances of winning and winning will boost revenues will allow the Rays to offer higher salaries.


So, until the perception changes, and th team starts winning, why should a fan pay money to watch them now? If the team believes that it cannot contend now, to the point that it is sending a ready player down to the minors to save money, why should a fan also not wait till the DRays are in the appropriate position in the success cycle before committing time and money?

IF Longoria lives up to the hype, he is probably a Yankee, Red Sox, Dodger, etc.


If Longoria lives up to the hype, going year to year in arby with him is going to be expensive.
   31. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:10 AM (#2716155)
In your opinion then, the DRays should have not want to sign him to a long term deal, ie an arby buyout type deal that gives them a couple extra years of control via team options? Just go to arby year by year, and then be done with him after year 6?

Players don't agree to buyout deals because they feel warm and fuzzy about their team and are doing management a favor IMO. I suspect Longoria will sign a buyout type deal if it is in his economic best interest. Again is the idea that Longoria would not sign a buy-out deal that is in his best economic interest out of spite? Players signing LT deals sacrifice a bit of money for security and the teams take on the risk that their pre-arb player will turn into Bobby Crosby and in exxhange get to pay a bit less (with the buy out contracts these days I don't think a huge amount less though I could be wrong on this).

As for the option, the Rays can get that "option year" without having to commit to a long term deal (good if Longoria does turn into Bobby Crosby after a break-out season) in exchange for a month of Longoria in the minors ... and maybe they get to buy out years on top of that (if Longoria is not the spiteful type). Seems like a good deal to me.

So, until the perception changes, and the team starts winning, why should a fan pay money to watch them now? If the team believes that it cannot contend now, to the point that it is sending a ready player down to the minors to save money, why should a fan also not wait till the DRays are in the appropriate position in the success cycle before committing time and money?

Have you seen the Devils Rays attendance record? I think the fans in Tampa-St. Pete are doing just that already - waiting. So there isn't alot of people to scare off here ...

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/rays3.shtml

BUT more importantly, how do you highlight text with the big " like that?
   32. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:12 AM (#2716156)
BUT more importantly, how do you highlight text with the big " like that?

use the
quote
button.. up top
   33. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:16 AM (#2716157)
Has anyone run the numbers on how much Troy Tulowitzki 6 year $31 million contract (with an option for an additional year at $15 million) might really save the Rockies?
   34. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:17 AM (#2716158)
Steve kim, i agree with you. this is a sound business decision.

It is a small market team trying to do everything in its power to maximize their leverage against big market teams. Its smart, and one could almost argue that if the don't do it, they are fools.

In three years when Longoria gets his first arbitration check. He isn't going to feel slighted. every player in the game knows the money being tossed around right now is insanity.
he won't feel slighted, at all.
   35. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:18 AM (#2716159)
button.. up top


Thanks Gambling!
   36. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:18 AM (#2716160)
Has anyone run the numbers on how much Troy Tulowitzki 6 year $31 million contract (with an option for an additional year at $15 million) might really save the Rockies?


thats your best bet to find it

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/oracle/
   37. rfloh Posted: March 20, 2008 at 08:55 AM (#2716165)
Players don't agree to buyout deals because they feel warm and fuzzy about their team and are doing management a favor IMO. I suspect Longoria will sign a buyout type deal if it is in his economic best interest. Again is the idea that Longoria would not sign a buy-out deal that is in his best economic interest out of spite?


It's debatable whether it is in the best economic interest of players like Longoria, ie position players considered to be likely to be very good, to sign arby buyout deals instead of going year to year. Yes, they get security, but in most cases the deals all turn out into huge bargains for the team.

Have you seen the Devils Rays attendance record? I think the fans in Tampa-St. Pete are doing just that already - waiting. So there isn't alot of people to scare off here ...


Yes, that's my point. This gives the fans even more reason to continue to wait. They are not going to contend this year, and by sending Longoria down, they are admitting this. So, fans should just continue to ignore them and view them as a sad sack cheapskate franchise.

As for the option, the Rays can get that "option year" without having to commit to a long term deal (good if Longoria does turn into Bobby Crosby after a break-out season) in exchange for a month of Longoria in the minors


And sometimes you get more than one option year by signing a long term deal.

Also, Longoria's minor league record is pretty significantly better than Crosby's minor league record, taking into account the leagues that they played in: Longoria, in pitcher's league like the Southern and the INT, Crosby in hitter's leagues like the Texas and the PCL.

Furthermore, bust though Crosby is, his deal is not really a big problem. The problem is that his failure to develope has resulted in a huge hole at SS for the A's. He will be paid 3.5M in year 5 of service time, $5.25M in year 6 of service time. Using an assumption that players get 60% of FA value in arby in year 2 of arbitration eligibility (year 5), and 80% of FA value in arby in year 3 of eligibility, the FA value of his contract is $5.83M + $6.5625. That means that the A's are valuing him at slightly over 1.5 wins, 15 runs, above replacement. PECOTA projects him to 7.1 and 6.5 VORP over the next 2 years. His D is supposed to be good. So, even with him being a bust, his contract is an overpay of about 5-10 runs per year, about $2.2M-4.4M per year, over the next 2 years.
   38. stevekim Posted: March 20, 2008 at 09:23 AM (#2716168)
rfloh,

Fair enough. If you think it makes economic sense to keep Longoria in TB because of the potential to sign him to a buy-out deal then I'll take your word for it and concede the point. You seem to have thought about it alot more than I have.

But I will fall back to my original point which is that the money implications (in terms of Longoria's pay) should play a big part in the decision about whether to send Longoria to Durham or not (which does not contradict you since you are making a money based argument). I'll admit that I hadn't really thought through the contract buy-out angle. My original point was that the non-economic arguments don't ring true to me ... i.e. retarding Longoria's development by sending him to Durham for a month, worrying about pissing Longoria off (maybe Voros was getting at the implications for signing Longoria to buy-out deal in post #22 but since he didn't mention it explicitly, I missed it) or the Rays getting a reputation for incompetence and being cheap.

Yes, that's my point. This gives the fans even more reason to continue to wait. They are not going to contend this year, and by sending Longoria down, they are admitting this. So, fans should just continue to ignore them and view them as a sad sack cheapskate franchise.


I think the Rays have been losers for so long and the fan base is so far gone that only winning is going to raise attendence. I don't think what happens to Longoria on opening day is going to make a heck of alot of difference either way. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one since we both just have opinions.

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