Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Price is Going Down? The Price is Wrong?Falling Price's?

So the big news out of Rays camp is that David Price will start the season in Durham. While that might be good for Dave over at Fielders Choice it seems the some fans aren’t taking it well. It is kind of expected. After all, most of these “fans” weren’t around last spring when the same thing happened with Evan Longoria. I do seem to remember quite a bit of gnashing of teeth when he was sent down at the end of the spring last season. Last time I checked that seemed to work out alright for everyone.

I think Friedman and Co. have earned the benefit of the doubt over the last few seasons so I’m going to roll with the them on this one. Also, it makes the most sense for the parties involved. It gives the Rays some time to work out the Jeff Niemann / Jason Hammel situation (my prediction is Niemann stays and Hammel is traded or claimed on waivers). Plus, as an added bonus, they keep Price under team control for an extra season or so.

For Price he gets a chance to work on becoming a more dominating pitcher than he already is. He was able to electrify the crowd during the post season with only his fastball and slider. While that might work for a reliever, it’s not going to work for someone who is projected to be a front line starter. He needs to develop the change up and the Rays can’t afford for him to do that in the majors.

According to Baseball Reference the first time through the order opponents hit .100 against him. The second time through the average went up to .276. While it’s a limited sample (only 17 plate appearances) it’s indicative a pitcher that only has limited options in getting a hitter out. That’s where the importance of the change up comes in. Having three solid pitches will allow him to keep hitters guessing during their second and third at bats.

On the afternoon radio show the host, a man of strong opinions, questioned a caller who supported the decision. He asked his caller if he thought Price was “one of the five best pitchers on the staff right now”, and then proceeded to berate him when the caller replied in the negative.

Here’s the thing, right now, Price is not one of the best five starters the Rays have. Will he be one day, and one day soon? Of course, but right now he doesn’t give them the best chance to win. The rotation looks to be set with Shields, Kazmir, Garza, Sonnanstine and Niemann. Price will benefit from a regular spot in Durham where he knows he’s going to go out every 5 days. If was the number 5 on the Rays he may only get 3 or 4 starts in April due to off days and rainouts.

Do I buy the 170 inning rule that management is pitching? To a certain extent I do. I don’t think it’s a hard and fast number, but I’m sure they want to keep him around that number. They may be accused of “babying” him along, but too many young phenoms have been rushed to the detriment of their career.

If you want a case in point check out the career of Mark Prior. He threw 116 innings in his rookie year, skyrocketed to 211 the next year and has battled arm injuries since then. Would you like one solid year for Price or a long career of solid years.

That’s what this move is all about - longevity. If things go as planned Price will be the foundation of the rotation for many years to go. If handled properly then those many years will hopefully be injury free.

This isn’t meant to bash young David Price. I have a feeling he is going to be a 20 game winner in the majors, just not this year. One great post season does not a great pitcher make. The postseason did show what he was made of - brass cojones. Now he just needs to harness the million dollar talent.

It will be fun to listen to the experts rant and rave on the radio/TV/internet for a few months, but in the long run it’s just going to be a lot of empty noise.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quick Note from the publisher, owner and chief contributer....

It seemroll by when you’re being lazy. There was a quick trip to New Orleans that I could blame it on, but that was s that a lot of time has transpired since I last wrote on this site. It’s amazing how quickly the days a week ago and still there’s nothing new on the site.

Worry not fearless readers (Hi Mom and Dad!) I do have a host of ideas planned for the next couple of weeks. The always entertaining preseason predictions is being worked on right now, as well as previews for both the Rays and the O’s.

I’ll also work in a review of some cards that are being sent by a fellow O’s fan Chris over atSacBunt . He was the lucky winner of the firstTampaSportsWasteland contest and also did me the kindness of taking my Redskins cards off of my hands. Another team down - and almost 200 cards reduced from the collection.

Jeez three referenced links in one paragraph. I might just be getting the hang of this internetting thing.

By the time I work in those columns it’ll be time for some final thoughts on the Lightning season, which aren’t as negative as you might think it might be. I see good things in the future for this team and I am ready to order my #91 Stamkos jersey. He’s going to be fun to watch.

Oh and congrats to me. I sold my first card in five years. Not on eBay, but on . It’s not a household name , but it has the lure of no listing fees. Check it out when you get a chance.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A little bit of wheeling, but not much dealing.

So the original plan for this post was the 4th Annual NHL Deadline Running Diary. Yes, it’s a shameless rip-off of a Bill Simmons gimmick, but it is usually fun to write. The fact that it also killed a day at work was not a bad thing either. This year proved to be different. I was unusually busy at work, which is a good thing for my paycheck, but a bad thing for you my loyal reader…err readers. So instead I present to you…

1st Annual NHL Trade Deadline Wrap Up for the Lightning

Here is how it broke down

New Assets:

Richard Petiot - Defenseman
Noah Welch - Defenseman
3rd Round Pick
Matt Lashoff - Defenseman
Martins Karsums - Forward


Mark Recchi
2nd Round Pick in 2010
Steve Eminger
Olaf Kolzig
Jamie Heward
Andy Rogers
4th Round Pick

In case you were wondering how this stacked up to my Trade Deadline Preview Column the Lightning traded a:

Most Likely to be Moved - Recchi
Could help a Contender - Eminger
M*A*S*H - Kolzig (Heward would have been in this category as well if I thought someone would take him).

Not bad when it comes to my usual track record for predictions.

The first thing critics and commenters like to do is rate how the teams did after deadline deals. For me, it’s more about did the team improve itself. In the case of the Lightning, did they improve themselves for next year and the year beyond? The answer - not really.

On the same token they didn’t do anything to ruin the franchise either. Vincent is still here as is Marty St Louis. I heard a rumor that Tortorella wanted Marty in New York, but they couldn’t make it work. They saved some salary by getting Toronto to take Kolzig and Heward off of their hands for the rest of the season.

A lot of people are criticizing the move as a sign of financial trouble, and they could be right. However, and maybe this is the fact that I’ve spent the last decade working for a company that operates at a 2% profit margin, they got another team to pay for players that aren’t going to suit up for them this year. All it cost them was a 4th round pick. The money they save (TSN pegged it at about $500,000) on this deal could help them keep a player they may be forced to move later.

For me the most bizarre move was the Eminger deal. Noah Welch is older (by a year) and has been injured for most of his career. In the last 3 seasons he’s played a total of 29 games due to shoulder injuries. Meanwhile, Eminger was one of the steadiest players on a blue line that was ravaged by injuries this year. The move also leaves Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros as the only defensive players that have played significant time in the NHL with contracts for next year. Lukas the Farmer, Matt Smaby and Mike Lundin are Restricted Free Agents so it stands to reason that they will be on the team next season. Ty Wisert is signed through next year, but spent most of this year in the minors. All in all, it’s not exactly a rock solid foundation to build from.

It would have been nice for Recchi to stick around, but when he was scratched for last nights game it was a foregone conclusion that he would be moved. Was he going to bring a huge return? Of course not. Boston offered to decent prospects that can help replenish a farm system that still needs player. Could they cut it in the NHL? Maybe.

Normally I listen to TSN on draft day, but due to technical difficulties at work the best I could do was a Montreal sports station. It was fun listening to them bash the Canadians, basically writing this season off as a failure. I’m sure if the Lightning were in 5th place in the Eastern Conference everyone would be giddy as a proverbial school boy on his first date. Also amusing was the fact the former hockey pugilist PJ Stock has his own show. Maybe one of the local stations here should give Enrico Ciccone a shot.

On the station they spent most of the day lamenting the lack of action by the Canadians and debating the merits of a blockbuster trade. Lecavalier was brought up a few times as was Ilya Kovalchuck. The general consensus was one that I had expressed several times. With the salary cap as it is, bringing in a player of that caliber and cap hit would necessitate moving so many pieces that there wouldn’t be any high caliber players left for them to play with - or as Stock eloquently stated, “Who would be Lecavalier’s Marty St Louis?”

I was surprised that there wasn’t more interest in some of the Lightning’s veteran defenseman like Krajicek or Marek Malik. Early in the day it was announced the Chris Pronger was off the market and Filip Kuba had signed an extension with Ottawa. With two of the big name blue liners off of the market, it could have created a demand for players that could have been role players.

In the end it could have been better and it could have been worse. Most importantly, as night falls over the TBA Vincent Lecavalier is still a member of the Lightning. Despite the rumors and the fear mongering on the internet tubes the face of the franchise is still wearing the uniform. If he’ll still be wearing it after July 1st is a worry for another day.