|The price isn't right...yet|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 25, 2009
Tampa Bay optioned superstar prospect David Price to Class AAA on Wednesday. Critics label the move as a way to start Price's arbitration clock later, thus saving the Rays a boatload of money. There's probably some truth in that.
There are, however, four very good reasons the Rays were right in doing this.
1) Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann, two highly regarded pitchers in the Rays system, are out of options. In other words, if Tampa Bay sends them to the minor leagues, they have to pass through waivers. And trust me, there are many, many teams that would claim them. The Rays need to keep both of these guys, since both can at least help their major league ballclub in 2009.
2) Price needs to watch his innings pitched. Young pitchers, especially those with ceilings as high as Price's, need to steadily build themselves up. It's not like the Rays -- sporting Kazmir, Garza and Shields -- need any more starters lying around. They do, however, need someone like Price to be healthy. And that means increasing his innings slowly -- to about 150-160 in 2009. The kid gloves should come off in 2010.
3) The Rays would like Price to limit the number of pitches he throws per inning, said Rays' pitching coach Jim Hickey in an interview with ESPN.com. Minor league seasoning is a wonderful way for Price to gain confidence in the defense behind him and allow hitters to put balls into play.
4) And finally, Price would be well served working on his off-speed stuff, especially his changeup. It's not like he only can throw the fastball, but Price could use a little more instruction, a little more seasoning, before he becomes The Next Great Thing.