We had quite a lively debate yesterday about whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. I’d have to guess, however, that even the most ardent Rose haters — of which I am not one, no matter what a lot of you think — would agree that Rose has a better claim to Cooperstown immortality than Eric Bruntlett’s sweaty jersey:
There actually have been more perfect games — 18, including the postseason — than unassisted triple plays . . . That is why the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum asked Bruntlett for a piece of memorabilia from the play.
Bruntlett is sending his jersey.
This isn’t a slam on Bruntlett or his feat — I took care of that yesterday. I just don’t get the obsessiveness on the part of the Hall for this kind of totem. I get truly historic jerseys, and I even get more directly symbolic things like a guy’s spikes for a stolen base record or something. But the shirt a backup second baseman was wearing when something cool yet kind of flukey happened? How isn’t preserved video or a photo sufficient? What does the jersey actually add to the historic remembrance of it all? Maybe the glove would be better. Bruntlett probably doesn’t want to part with that in the middle of a season, of course, so maybe the Hall should just wait for that.
Don’t get me wrong — this is not a complaint as such. Just kind of a head scratcher regarding why it is we actually preserve artifacts like this. Is it to remember an event? Does the Hall do this out of a sense of mere inertia?
Probably worth a visit to Cooperstown to ask someone.
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.