Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

Rays for Rays

It’s a good time to be a Rays fan.

Honestly, how often, before now, could you say something like that and mean it sincerely? But it’s true, from the bottom up.

At the top rung, obviously, the Rays are playing great baseball. After their win this afternoon, they’re just a half-game behind the Red Sox atop the AL East. Matt Garza threw a dandy and Evan Longoria is white hot. In his last four games, he’s gone 8-for-19 (6-for-11 in the last two) with three homers, four doubles and 8 RBIs.

Down in Double-A, 2007 No. 1 overall pick David Price makes his Southern League debut, starting for Montgomery tonight in Mobile at 8 p.m. ET. You can listen on MiLB.com Gameday Audio.

But wait, that’s not all. I’m in Princeton, West Virginia because Tim Beckham is making his professional debut tonight. He’ll DH and bat second in the P-Rays lineup against the Burlington Royals. You can listen to that game as well at 7 p.m. ET. There was a little nasty weather here a bit ago, and the radar looks like it might have one more bit of rain, so batting practice was banged, but it’s looking like all systems are go for the No. 1 pick in this most recent draft to get his first taste of pro ball. I’ll be writing a story off of it and we’ll (myself and Joe Cronin) provide a video interview and a little later, a feature, from the game. Wireless access permitting, I’ll try to blog after each of his at-bats tonight.

Flood relief efforts continue: Changing the topic for a minute, I just wanted to update you on a few on-going efforts regarding helping out those impacted by the flooding in the Midwest. A couple of days ago, I wrote about Trevor Bell and how he was donating $100 for every strikeout in a recent start, which meant a total of $700 when all is said and done. Well, after surveying the area a bit, Bell wrote a check for $2500 before being moved back up to Rancho Cucamonga. It’s reported in that city that Angels GM Tony Reagins promised the Angels will make a donation to the city as well.  Stephen Smith, over at FutureAngels.com, passed along some information on his blog. The Cedar Rapids Kernels now have a local relief fund up and running. Send dontations to:

Kernels Foundation Flood Relief
PO Box 2001
Cedar Rapids, IA  52404

I also just got a release from Minor League Baseball announcing the formation of MiLB Charities and that $50,000 will be donated to Iowa flood victims as the charitable arm’s first act.

More to come from Princeton as action unfolds…

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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