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: Cam on as a pinch-hitter in the 8th and smacked a lead-off double. He did not play in the field.

Quotes:
“Longoria should open the season and be an instant impact star. His hands are remarkable, and scouts believe he can hit 30 home runs as a rookie” - Peter Gammons.

“He’s got that thing…It’s fun to watch him and be associated with him. He’s a player. That’s the joy for us coaches. You don’t do what he’s done at every (minor league) level just by accident.” – Gary Gaetti (Durham Bulls hitting coach)

“That was the farthest home run I’ve ever seen hit, for sure. Hands down,” JP Howell.(RE: Longoria’s home run in game two of IL playoffs last season)

Summary: After an 0-8 stretch, The Dirtbag now has hits in his last two plate appearances. Willy Aybar started at third and went 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout. Longoria is 4-11 (.364), with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts, while Aybar is 4-16 (.250) with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. Aybar has 29 innings at third base, while Longoria has logged 23 innings…As we near the half-way point of the spring, we may start to see the team tip their hand if one or the other starts receiving more playing time at the hot corner and Aybar starts receiving more PT at other positions to start getting used to his role as a utility player…If the decision had to be made today, we tend to think Longoria would be on the team based on what he has shown so far, but the decision has not been made yet.

 
 

4 Comments

  1. Robert Rittner says:

    Have you accounted for this statement reported in the Times from Maddon:
    “Willie Aybar was 0-for-2; more telling were manager Joe Maddon’s observations, amid overall praise, that Evan Longoria has looked ‘not so good’ in some at-bats and that the Rays have to determine if that will continue into the season because ‘you don’t want him to have to go through that necessarily.’”

    Because I think their inclination is to keep Longoria at Durham for a while, I assign more weight to that kind of statement than I ordinarily would.

  2. The Professor says:

    i did miss that quote. thanks for the heads up. it is very telling.

  3. Jesus Shuttlesworth says:

    At this point in the year, is there any reason other than delaying the arbitration clock to send Longoria to Durham? I don’t buy the “must struggle as a pro first” excuse when you could bat him 8th.

    If the true reason is the arb clock, then that is the most mixed message management could possibly send to the fans.

  4. The Professor says:

    we have long said that the arb clock is the only reason that makes sense. I understand the reasoning and I am not really against it, but as you said, I just dont believe the other reasons. if it is the arb clock, it is only 2 months. If he is sent down and then promoted in the first or second week of June then we will know for sure that the arbitration clock was the real reason. it sucks a little for the first few weeks, but if it means an extra year on the cheap, then i guess it is a small price to pay

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