The Show: Pace Car Edition

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On this week’s The Show, we took a look at a few guys
having spectacularly good (or bad) seasons and projected their numbers
for the entire year. Despite a slump, is Ian Kinsler on pace to have one of the greatest seasons ever by a second baseman? Can anything stop Chris Davis from obliterating the strikeout mark? Plus some notes about Raul Ibanez (we shot this before the nonsense that erupted this week.

That video can be seen below. Stats are a tad out of date since it was shot on Tuesday, and Roy Halladay has since been injured, so I suppose we jinxed him. Anyway, here are a few more Pace Car notes:

– Despite a rough week, Albert Pujols is on track to put up
this line: .321/.440/.665, 53 HR, 145 RBI, 121 BB, 25 SB, and only 61
Ks. That’d be a career high in homers, ribbies, walks, and steals.

– He might be coming back to earth a bit, but you’d certainly take
22-5, 1.72 ERA, 262/43 K/BB, 254 innings, 14 complete games, and 5
shutouts from Zack Greinke. The last pitcher to go double digits in complete games was Randy Johnson in 1999.

Joel Piniero has factored into the decision for all of
his 12 starts (5-7) and is on pace to go 13-18. No pitcher has won that
many games with 18 or more losses since Jack Morris in 1990 for Detroit, when he finished 15-18. A year later, he was winning the World Series with the Twinkies.

Matt Cain for Comeback Player of the Year? If he keeps up
at this rate, he’ll finish 22-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 159 Ks. The last
two seasons combined he went 15-30 with a 3.70 ERA. A better ERA
certainly helps with the record, but so does good run support (5.66
runs/game). In 2008 that number was 3.12, and in 2007 it was 3.20.

– If I gave you the numbers 47 and 11, and told you that one of those numbers would be David Wright’s
home run total and the other was his stolen base total, what would you
think? (Hint: he is not on pace for 47 bombs.) He’s also on track for
50 doubles, although such a discrepancy between homers and doubles in
not unprecedented. In Major League history, 25 players have hit 11 or
fewer homers and had at least 50 doubles. However, the 47 steals would
put him 3rd all-time on the list of players with at least 50 doubles,
behind Tris Peaker in 1912 and Craig Biggio in 1998.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.