Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kevin Goldstein Talks About The Rays - Part 2

David PriceOn a recent broadcast of the Minor League Notebook Weekly radio show, host Tyler Hissey interviewed Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. They discussed several Rays players including Desmond Jennings, David Price, Jason Hammel, Tim Beckham, and Reid Brignac.

Tyler was kind enough to type up a transcript of the Rays-related portion of the show and send it to me. Here is Part 2 of 4, focusing on David Price and Jason Hammel (TH = Tyler Hissey, KG = Kevin Goldstein):

TH: What is your take on the Rays' decision to send David Price down to the minors to start the season?

KG: The decision leaves me completely and utterly baffled when it comes to what the Rays did with David Price this year. You hit the nail on the head as far as the American League East. You have to throw David Price out there. You can't afford to have Jason Hammel as your fifth starter if you have another option in David Price, which is going to make you a better team. You can't afford to risk any games in the American League East this year, because the three best teams in the American League are all in the East. And one of those teams is going to be on the outside looking in come postseason time even though they're the third best team in the league.

And so I don't understand it, and this whole "we're going to control his innings" crap, to be honest with you. Because he had some very, very slight elbow issues to begin the year in 2008. And the Rays were incredibly cautious about it, they started him much later than they anticipated, and, therefore, that limited his innings. And, because of that, because they were way cautious 12 months ago, that means that they're not going to start him in the rotation this year and theoretically, since he's only going to throw 150 innings this year—and the rule is 20 percent increases—he's only going throw 180 innings in 2010, meaning that the decision to be cautious about his elbow, while certainly the right thing to do, all the sudden is costing you starts in a season when you're trying to win. And then somewhere between 20-25 percent of a work schedule two years from now.

I just think these hardened-fast rules are kind of silly the way the Rays are doing it (and) are really damaging to the club. And it's just strange to say, because I've had nothing to say but ridiculous praise for the Rays have been doing the things the past couple years. I just think they have made a monumentally dumb decision here. I guess I get kind of tired of everyone thinking long term. You see it a lot in fantasy leagues. Who’s thinking about now? The Rays are in a position to win the best division and baseball and have a chance at a World Series title, and so maybe let's starting thinking about now, and then start worrying about the future later.

TH: What do you think of Hammel's trade value, assuming he pitches well for the first few weeks?

KG: I think Hammel is definitely the kind of arm who could get something in return. It doesn't matter if he's just an extra guy in Tampa Bay, because I don't think a lot of other teams care that he doesn't have as much value in Tampa Bay.

Link to Part 1 of the interview.


  1. I commented at BP where Kevin Goldstein made similar statements about Price and Christina Kahrl echoed his views that I think they are dead wrong. I think they are confusing Price's talent with his current ability as a major league starter.

    In my view he is not yet a solid major league starter, not with spotty control of his fastball and mediocre off-speed pitches. The gap between him and Niemann or even Hammel is probably not very big if there is one at all.

    For one simple thing, what are the chances he could regularly provide 6-7 innings each start? In his 5 consecutive starts at the beginning of last season Hammel did it 4 times. That also has an effect on wins and losses, especially as he kept the Rays in the game in 4 of those 5 starts.

    Given that the Rays have decided to keep Price in AAA a bit longer, and given that they have a lot more information than we do and are fully aware they are real contenders, it seems to me we should not be so adamant that the decision is a mistake. Price should become a star pitcher, but he is not there yet, and with reasonable alternatives available, there is no reason to rush him and possibly retard his development.

  2. Anon: "Given that the Rays have decided to keep Price in AAA a bit longer, and given that they have a lot more information than we do and are fully aware they are real contenders, it seems to me we should not be so adamant that the decision is a mistake."

    Well put, that's my opinion too. Either we trust the front office or we don't. Given the results and the talent in organization going forward, I tend to think they know what they're doing.

    Even if the FO is wrong, it can be fixed quickly. It's not like Price can't come back until September. If the 5th starter position becomes a problem, Price (or Davis) is only a plane ride away.

    If the 5th starter is fine, then we can let Price work on improving his pitches and control his workload, which benefits him and the team in the long run.

    I just don't see a lot of downside with this decision.

  3. It is easy to call a decision "monumentally dumb" when you aren't the one responsible if anything does go wrong.

    It is BP logic, extrapolate and manipulate stats and if the predictions don't pan out it is just "bad luck" like the Yankees last season.

    Price is not ML ready, Durham last year showed that the second time through a AAA lineup he was much more hittable.

  4. I like that the FO is willing to make these kind of decisions without worrying about the PR flak. Just like last year with Longoria.