Tampa Bay Devil Dogs (11 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Marc Lancaster believes the Rays are using the Royal’s Alex Gordon and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun as case studies for their decision about where Evan Longoria will start the 2008 season. Gordon was the opening day third baseman for Kansas City while Braun began the season in AAA.

Gordon struggled early for the Royals hitting .173 in April and .195 in May. However, he rebounded in June hitting .327. Braun on the other hand started off hot in AAA, where he hit .342 with 10 home runs in the first month. He was then called up to the Brewers and continued his torrid pace hitting .349 in his first month.

If the Rays are indeed using Gordon and Braun as a barometer to help them decide where Longoria starts the 2008 season, then there is a very good chance we will not see the Dirtbag in a Rays uniform until June.

Longoria spoke publicly for the first time about the possibility of the Rays front office deciding prior to Spring Training where he will start the 2008 season. Longoria stated he would be disappointed if the Rays decided to keep him in Durham to start the season without at least giving him a chance to show what he can do in Spring Training.

“I heard they might tell me beforehand but not for sure, so I assume it will be based on how I do,” Longoria said from California. “It’s only fair. I feel I’m coming into spring a lot more ready than I was last year. I’d kind of be a little disappointed if they told me beforehand I didn’t have a chance to make the team.”

“If they are going to make the decision beforehand, I’d rather not know,” he said. “I’d rather go in, play my best and throw it all on the table. It’s only my second year, so it’s not like it’s a make-or-break year or anything, but a chance is always nice.”

I sure hope the Rays are not going to base their decision only on how Ryan Braun and Alex Gordon performed. There is nothing to suggest that Braun would not have hit well if he started the season in the majors and there is nothing to suggest that Gordon would not have struggled for two months even if he had started in the minors. In fact, one could argue that Gordon benefited from being given the opportunity to work out the kinks in the big leagues, knowing that his job was not in jeopardy, as opposed to struggling in the minors with a job on the line.

The biggest reason the Rays should not base this decision on Gordon and Braun is that they represent a sample size of 2. For every Alex Gordon that struggles in his first two months in the big leagues, I can give you a Dan Uggla who started the season in the majors and hit well all season long.

There may be reasons to keep Longoria in the minors for another month or two *cough, cough* arbitration *cough, cough*, but Alex Gordon and Ryan Braun should only be a minor reason if a reason at all.

Path to greatness [Tampa Tribune]
Prospect hopes to control fate [St. Pete Times]


  • Marc Topkin also noted that Rocco Baldelli is already working out at the Rays Spring Training complex and says that Baldelli is running “almost all out”. [St. Pete Times]
  • Matt Silverman received honorable mention in a recent St. Pete Times survey of local businesses when asked “Who do you see emerging as the area’s top business leaders?” Making the top 9 was St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker who the Times. The Times sees Bakers biggest business related task in 2008 being how he represents the citizens in the Rays quest for a new stadium. [St. Pete Times]
  • 43% of local businesses support the Rays proposed stadium. 37% do not. [St. Pete Times]
  • The Tampa Bay Rays are taking their fight for a new stadium door-to-door…literally. In the last two months the Rays have made presentations about the new stadium to more than 30 local neighborhood associations, rotary groups and chamber of commerce meetings. They have 26 more meetings scheduled between now and the beginning of the season. [St. Pete Times]
  • A profile of Carlos Pena and his emergence as a top hitter in the American League. [MetroWest Daily News]


  1. TK says:

    Isn't it the case that the Brewers gained an extra year of team control over Ryan Braun by delaying his MLB arrival a couple of months?

    I recall that the Brewers' blog Brew Crew Ball correctly predicted Braun's promotion a few weeks in advance based on service time calculations. [I searched for it on their site but couldn't find it to confirm.]

    If I'm the Rays and I can get an extra year of Longoria for the cost of six to eight weeks at Durham, I'd do that in a heartbeat. Of course I don't know if the situation in terms of service time is exactly the same, but it ought to be comparable.

    In the meantime, you get some MLB at bats for Joel Guzman and Willy Aybar and see if there's anything there. This seems like what smart organizations do, IMHO.

    Of course publicly you say that Longoria is in AAA 'working on a few things.'

  2. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    They cut it pretty close with Braun.

    Braun has 129 days of service time. A full year of service time is 172 days. Super-2 players are players that are eligible for arbitration with less than 3 full seasons of service time. The cutoff is different each year. It is the top 17% of players. The cutoff usually falls between 130 and 135 days. It has been as low as 128 and as high as 140.

    So yes, it does look like that was at least a consideration as to exactly when Braun would be brought up. But does not necessarily mean that is why he started the season in the minors.

    I also have no problem keeping Longoria in the minors for two months to get an extra year on the cheap, i just hope that they don't use Braun as the justification. He is just one player and has zero bearing on whether or not Longoria is ready.

  3. TK says:

    I didn't realize the cutoff was different every year. I guess that makes it more of a moving target than I realized as to when you bring him up.

    I hope he's in the lineup Opening Day but I won't be shocked if he's in Durham.


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