Yesterday Rob Neyer of ESPN.com wrote about the fates of Baseball America's top two prospects, Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria. While Bruce start the season in the minors, Neyer notes that the Reds could be a playoff contender if Bruce and Joey Votto receive 1,000 plate appearances. On the other hand, a decision has yet be made on where Longoria will start the season. Neyer feels that the Rays may wish that Longoria was not playing so well in Spring Training. He thinks the Rays should forgo the potential savings of keeping him in the minors and buy some goodwill with the fans by showing them that the team is serious about winning.
Keeping top prospects in the minors to begin the season is likely to become a growing trend. Decisions in both of the above cases may at least in part be based on future arbitration and free agency eligibility. A team can delay free agency by just postponing a player's debut a few weeks. And as arbitration figures continue to rise, team's can delay the start of the arbitration clock by waiting until June to promote a prospect. Last season the Brewers accomplished this with their top prospect Ryan Braun by waiting until May 24th to promote him to the majors. In doing so, Braun will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2010 season.
Let's take a look at what is being written about Bruce and Longoria in the Blogosphere...
- Redleg Nation understands starting Bruce in AAA, but laments the idea of having Corey Patterson batting leadoff. They worry that this confirms the belief that Dusty Baker prefers veterans even if they are less talented.
- Red Reporter is split on the issue of Bruce noting that the issue is not as clear as we would like it to be. They also wonder if the Reds are staggering the debuts of their prospects so their arbitration and free agency clocks are also staggered.
- Bugs & Cranks wonders if the Reds had already decided Bruce's fate even before bringing Patterson on board, for the sole purpose of delaying Bruce's arbitration clock.
- At Fanhouse, Pat Lackey tries to justify the demotion of Bruce, noting that he may be better off developing under the tutelage of somebody other than Baker, getting more experience and delaying his arbitration clock.
- On the other hand, Eamonn Brennan of Fanhouse thinks any team not managed by Baker would have kept Bruce on the roster.
- Rays of Light notes that Longoria's future teammates may not be happy if he is demoted. Rays of Light wouldn't be happy with a demotion but they understand the reasoning.
- Outs Per Swing notes that if Longoria is demoted, Willy Aybar will start at third. They do not believe that Aybar's recent hamstring issues will have an effect on the team's decision regarding Longoria.
- Sports Indeed notes that Longoria is receiving a lot of playing time in the spring and wonders if this is an indication that he will be on the opening day roster.
- Rays Index predicts a May 26 debut for Longoria based on his arbitration clock.
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