Stark has unrolled a lengthy piece on ESPN.com about David Price and the fifth rotation slot. Don't be fooled, it follows the same pattern that you would've seen with Evan Longoria's pending demotion last year:
- Price is really, really good.
- Examples of Price being really, really good.
- Quote from veteran player.
- But wait...Price might not start in majors...DUNT DUNT DUH!
The new twist is that nobody is even mentioning money as the motivating factor, even though Stark makes this statement:
Oh, the Rays have their reasons, all right. Very, very intelligently thought-out reasons. And we should point out, at the top, that they have no reason -- at least in the short term -- to avoid starting Price's arbitration clock. He's already signed through 2012.
That's simply incorrect. Price's draft contract is through 2012 for the purpose of allocating draft bonus money*, but unless the team releases or trades him, Price will not be eligible for free agency until after 2014 at the earliest, and most likely 2015.
*Price's contract is also structured in the "split" variety, meaning throughout his playing time he'll make a different value if he's in the majors or minors for the majority of the season. Once he reaches arbitration elligiblity he'll have the choice of taking his set salary or going to arbitration if he feels he's worth more. Let's hope, based on the premise of good performance, that he feels the need to go to arbitration.
Jim Hickey says:
"But let's just say he's a starting pitcher [this year], and he faces New York three, four or five times, or Baltimore three, four or five times, or anybody in our division. Obviously, you have to continue to get better. You have to adjust. And that's the kind of stuff we're talking about. We're not talking about any great deficiencies here."
Yeah, no kidding. What they're talking about, in essence, is just improving Price's command so he "becomes a little more pitch-efficient," Hickey said. And they're talking about giving him time to develop his changeup, even though Hickey says he already has made "amazing" progress on that pitch just since last season.
And the moneyball quote from Andrew Friedman:
"It's a fine line," GM Andrew Friedman said, "because we're so reliant on our young players, and we always will be. So development has to be the key. We can't do something that provides a slight benefit in '09 if it's going to be detrimental to 2010, '11 and '12. We can't run away from that. We have to maintain that mindset, or we will not be able to sustain success."
We've been beating these same points for a while now. The next six weeks fail in comparison to the next six years. Third pitch development, efficiency, and to a lesser degree innings, it's all there. If you've been reading this site it's nothing new. Hell, just check the "David Price" tag.