As Opening Day draws near now is the time for managers and executives to make the tough decisions. As seen in the past few days, many players were under the impression they'd be making the team are now being sent down to the minors. Super- prospects Evan Longoria (3B TB) and Jay Bruce (OF CIN) were among those heading back to the minors.
In Tampa Bay, manager Joe Maddon had made it clear that it would be an open competition for the starting spot at the hot corner. But whether it was Longoria's inexperience or whether Maddeon did it solely for his own personal humor, the skipper decided to send down Longoria despite Spring numbers of .333/.467/.750. If the Rays want to compete with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox, they will not be doing it with their best possible team on the field. By keeping Longoria down in Triple-A for two months they will be able to avoid going to arbitration with him until 2011 and he will not be a free agent until 2014.
Reds manager Dusty Baker is up to his old ways again. The old-school coach is not willing to push the cagey veterans aside in order to put the young guns on the field. With aging veterans tying up his outfield and infield in Ken Griffey Jr., Ryan Freel and Scott Hatteberg, it seems there is no room again for future stars such as Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Votto has made the major-league team but is stuck in a platoon with Hatteberg. Bruce was sent down to Triple-A in order to make room for the newly aquired Corey Patterson. Baker, though, has shown some love to the rookies as Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez have cracked the starting rotaion as the third and fourth starters, respectively behind Harang and Arroyo.
Nothing should be taken for granted in Spring Training. As seen again this year, many highly touted minor-leaguers with big-league aspirations have been sent back to the drawing board. Only time will tell when the next Albert Pujols is brought to the Show ...