Stephen Strasburg wants a lot of money. So what?

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A reader of my other blog made a wonderful point a few minutes ago, and it goes like this:

For all the roaring of terrible roars about how much Stephen
Strasburg is going to ask for, and all the gnashing of teeth when the
Yankees signed Burnett, Sabathia, and Teixeira, and all the rolling of
terrible eyes when the Red Sox paid $51.1M for Dice-K, the Real Madrid soccer team just offered $131M to sign Cristiano Ronaldo away from Manchester United.
None of that $131M includes what they will actually pay the player.
That’s just what they will have to pay ManU for the right to negotiate
a contract.

I’ll add that that same Real Madrid team spent another $94 million for the rights to another player (a guy named Kaka), the Jets just gave $50 million to a guy who has never taken a snap in pro football and the Lions did the same thing last month.

Strasburg is reportedly asking for $50 million. He could blow the
record bonus out of the water by getting less than half that amount. In
light of what’s going on in other sports, why is everyone so upset with
Strasburg and Boras?

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.