Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ask And You Shall Receive: Stacy Long On Heath Rollins

Heath RollinsYesterday in the AFL roster post I asked this question to Stacy Long about the Rays moving Heath Rollins to the pen (the "or not" referred to whether Stacy would see the question, not whether he knew the answer):
The only one who confuses me a little is Rollins, I assumed the switch to RP was to control his innings, but apparently not. Perhaps (or not) Stacy can shed some light on why this appears to be Rollins' long-term plan?
Today Stacy posted his answer:
Perhaps, I can. =)

Though Rollins did have a 3.94 ERA as a starter this year, the Rays no longer project him as a possible starter in the major leagues. He's fully part of the bullpen. With the move, which came when Darin Downs moved up, they want to send Rollins to Arizona to give him extra time to adjust.
For more on Rollins transition to the bullpen see Stacy's article in the Montgomery Advertiser, which includes quotes from Rollins on the move.

Thanks to Stacy I now understand why they Rays decided to make the move, but I'm not sure I agree with the timing of the move. Rollins has never had a bad season and he always has pitched a lot of innings. Without going through all his stats (and if necessary, I will, so help me, I will), quality plus quantity, basically. While I understand the long-term thinking behind the move, that he doesn't project to be one of the five starters at the major league level, my question is why now?

Rollins is still in AA and doesn't look to have a chance of cracking the Rays 25-man roster in 2010. Why take a productive upper-level minor league starter and move him to a lesser role at this point? Why diminish his value when he doesn't appear to be ready to help at the big league level next season (by value I mean trade value, just because he doesn't project to make the Rays strong rotation doesn't mean he couldn't project to start for other major league clubs)?

Could I be wrong and the Rays really see him as a bullpen option at some point next season? Perhaps. But based on what we have at MLB/AAA/AA, I would have started him in the Durham rotation in 2010 to preserve his trade value and considered this move at some point next summer based on need.

If you have any Biscuits-related questions for Stacy, feel free to post them in the comments here or over at his excellent blog.

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