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So what does earning a four-out save against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS earn you?

If you're Tampa Bay's David Price, a ticket back to the minor leagues the next season, that's what!

The surprising thing is that the Rays' optioning of Price back to Triple-A Durham didn't really come at a surprise at all.  All spring, the Rays have strongly suggested that Price, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, probably could use a little more seasoning before joining the team's already strong rotation.   

On Wednesday, the Rays did just that and manager Joe Maddon said it wasn't as hard of a decision as one might have thought. "I feel very comfortable with this, because I know if he gets on a roll down there and gets confidence in where he's throwing his fastball, heads up when he shows up here," he said.

While some observers might try to draw parallels between Price and Evan Longoria, who was sent down at the beginning of the 2008 season in an attempt to manipulate his arbitration eligibility, R.J. Anderson argues that isn't the case

From DRays Bay:

"There's simply no reason to believe this was 100 percent or even 60 percent money driven instead of purely performance and developmentally driven. Anyone who looked up the pitch data knows Price failed to use his change in his cameo last season. Even in his lone start, Price failed to use his change-up, relying primarily on his fastball and slider.

"The biggest issue here is trying to estimate how 'ready' a pitcher is and comparing this situation to Longoria. There was little for Longoria to work on when he was sent down. Strikeouts and a lack of ‘failure' were the two biggest concerns. With Price, it's less obvious to see these worries, or perhaps to place relevance upon them."

After dealing with Price a little bit during last season's playoffs, I think he's smart and mature enough to handle the Rays' decision and not interpret it as a slap in the face. Would I have liked to see him in a Tampa Bay uniform from the get-go? Sure, but I also think he's a pretty nice ace for the Rays to place up their sleeves in an AL East race where pitching will be king. 

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