We call him The Dirtbag because of how he plays and because he played college ball at Long Beach State whose baseball team has the coolest mascot in sports…The Dirtbags.

The biggest question mark for the Tampa Bay Rays in Spring Training is whether or not Evan Longoria will be named the opening day third baseman. Manager Joe Maddon has repeatedly stated that the decision will be based less on his stats, and more on how the 22-year old handles himself on a day-to-day basis and how well The Dirtbag adjusts to everyday life as a major leaguer. From now until the Rays announce a decision on Longoria’s fate, we will track The Dirtbag’s progress through his numbers, our own observations and quotes from Maddon and Andrew Friedman…

Notes on the Dirtbag-O-Meter…

Yesterday at the plate: Evan Longoria went 0-1. In the first inning, he was hit by a pitch. In the third, he flied out to center. In the sixth he drew a leadoff walk. In the field, Longoria committed his first error when Shirley Duncan’s groundball went off his glove, but he recovered to grab the ball in foul territory to throw Shirley out by 15 feet at second base.

Quotes: none reported

Summary: The Dirtbag is now 7-19 (.368) with 5 walks (.520 OBP) and 2 strikeouts. Willy Aybar is hitting 6-20 (.300) with 4 walks (.429 OBP) and 4 Ks. Aybar has played 34 innings at third base while Longoria has logged 38 innings…Nothing happened yesterday to warrant a move of the needle.

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5 Comments

  1. Jesus Shuttlesworth says:

    I heard from a source inside that organization that it's a lock he starts in Durham.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I remember a couple years back Grady Sizemore played equally well in Spring Training and the Indians tried to pull a "Devil Rays" move by sending him down to save money. Juan Gonzalez ended up getting hurt in the last Spring game and Sizemore was brought back up and immediately played All-Star baseball.

    Maybe if Delmon Young was brought up a year earlier, he never would have thrown a bat at an umpire. Maybe they don't have a hole in RF right now. Maybe they don't trade for Matt Garza, who while he is a great prospect, he has more MLB service time on the clock and the "Devil Rays" still have Price, McGee and Davis.

    Maybe with the same "Devil Rays" attitude they shouldn't drop the "Devil". They still obviousy have the same mentality as they always have. Marlins/Devil Rays= one and the same.

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  3. Robert Rittner says:

    The Sizemore analogy is irrelevant. Aside from the fact that I can adduce plenty of examples that demonstrate the opposite results, the two situations are not at all alike except as to the youth of the players. Unlike Longoria, Sizemore had played 43 games in the majors the previous year (with a .246/.333/.406 line incidentally) and already had 5 full minor league seasons of experience.

    All those maybes do not add up even to a possibility let alone a probability. And they are so speculative as to be meaningless.

    As for the last point, it is demonstrably untrue.

    As for the decision about Longoria, a legitimate argument can be made either way, and given the obvious good faith the Rays have shown to date, I would not second guess should they decide to start him in Durham, which is the option I lean to anyway.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    For one, Longoria should have gotten a cup of coffee last year, he earned it. Sizemore (who got his 43 game cup) and Longoria ARE similar because they are young guys with outstanding talent, makeup and are FRANCHISE players. They are TEAM LEADER types, who should be in Major League dugouts as soon as possible. And for every player you can name that failed because of an early call up, I'll name 3 who are absolute STARS.

    Don't think a player like Longoria will make a difference, see Troy Tulowitzki and a Rocky team that was picked to finish last in the NL West. Tulo is 1 year Longoria's senior, got his cup in 2006, started his first FULL year in the bigs, had a ROY - caliber year and LEAD his team to the WORLD SERIES. A path that Longoria is now behind on.

    I speak in maybes because I can't change the past and I can only offer realistic possibilities. But these are realistic scenarios that one September call-up could have changed. *There will be a very bitter taste in your mouth in a year or 2 when Delmon is a stud and Garza is stuck in the bullpen out of options*

    MLB games are won by putting the best team on the field. Tickets are bought when teams play well and have playoff chances. There is a snowball effect that comes with winning. Something that no "Devil Rays" fan could possibly understand.

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  5. Robert Rittner says:

    Sorry anonymous but we disagree. The Rays' approach is to be cautious with young players, and I think they are right. They have stated repeatedly that they have very precise goals for each player in the system and intend to work on those in the minors rather than try to fix them in TB.

    You may consider that the wrong approach but it is certainly a rational one and one that many baseball people agree with. (Just as some prefer a faster pace.) I imagine the experience with Edwin Jackson, who at one time was the number 1 pitching prospect in the minors comparable to Clayton Kershaw now, may influence some of the Rays' thinking, although I think they are prone to the cautious approach in any case.

    The references to "Devil Rays" are snide and irrelevant. There is nothing in the new management that remotely resembles the previous one. In fact, on this very issue, one of the serious errors the Naimoli people made was rushing young players up in the vain hope it would boost attendance. It worked with Crawford, but usually was an error. There are legitimate arguments for promoting Longoria, but to be so dogmatic about it betrays a rigidity of thought and unwillingness to consider another side to the story that does you no credit.

    In any case, the effort to conflate Rays' history into one pattern rather than recognizing two completely separate eras is futile and inaccurate. Whether it is establishing a consistent organizational philosophy, public relations, community outreach, branding and broadening the fan base, scouting, player development, expanding the talent search, approach to free agency, or any other aspect of the game, the new management is radically different from the old, and in my view, dramatically better.

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