Evan Almighty (Dollar) …

Sorry I’ve been a little tardy in hopping on the past week. Can I blame it on being unleavened? (Happy Passover — Pesach as we in the Tribe like to call it — to those who celebrate).

Thumbnail image for Durham running (closeup).JPGI had wanted to say something about the Evan Longoria contract extension, but the only thing I could thing of was, “Where’s my cut?” I don’t want to over-estimate the power of the media here, but something is going on here. Here’s how the sequence of events went:

1. The Rays decide to send Longoria to Triple-A to start the season in order to keep his service clock from getting going, thus saving them a year before having to worry about free agency and, if all went well, arbitration. Not only would that keep E-Love in a Rays uniform longer, it obviously would save the organization a bucket load of cash.

2. I write a column, which you can read here, examining — astutely, I might add — why the Thumbnail image for evan.jpgRays made the decision they made. I give the Rays’ management the overall benefit of the doubt, though they get an “incomplete” in terms of how the situation was handled. The column, it should be noted, was posted on April 9.

3. Exactly three days later, on April 12, the Rays recall Longoria to replace Willy Aybar, who conveniently got hurt and likely will never be a starter in Tampa again. Coincidence? I think not.

4. Just six days after he makes his big-league debut (on April 18), Longoria inks a nine-year deal that could be worth up to $44 million.

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The way I see it, Longoria went from being a Triple-A infielder to signing the longest deal in the history of the Rays organization in the span of oh, about 10 days. The catalyst in this sudden turn of events? Is there any doubt it was my column? That being the case,  when do I get paid?

In all seriousness, what an unbelievable turnaround. I have to say I kind of like the deal, even if it does seem incongruous to the decision not to have Longoria on the Opening Day roster. You have to think they had told Longoria’s agent, Paul Cohen (who, by the way, must hang out at Long Beach State to rep all of their shortstops — he’s got Bobby Crosby and Tulo as well — not a bad way to make a living) that once they did call him up, they wanted to lock him up long term. When Aybar went down, it just sped up the timetable.

And when you think of it that way, it actually does make a little bit of sense, doesn’t it? The Rays sent Longoria down to try to avoid having to worry about arbitration or free agency for an extra year. Once they were forced to bring him up (And no, I don’t think the public outcry really had anything to do with the decision.  Who else would you have play third once Aybar hit the DL?), they immediately took steps, unprecedented as they might be, to  … avoid all of arbitration (assuming Tampa picks up that first option year) and, if the Rays pick up both option years after that, two years of free agency. With the uphill struggle the organization faces, especially in the division, from a financial landscape/revenue standpoint, can you blame them? Yes, there’s a risk involved, but he’s as safe a bet as anyone to more than live up to this contract. Do the math, even if they dole out the $44 million, this will be a huge long-term savings compared to what his earning potential would be when he hit arbitration or free agency for the first time.

There’s my two cents worth.. and neither of those pennies came from Longoria himself, unfortunately.

I’ll be back tomorrow or the next with a little mini-mailbag of sorts.

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