Link-O-Rama: Gonzalez 'praying' steroids list comes out

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* Recently retired Luis Gonzalez said yesterday that he’s “hoping and praying” the full list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 is revealed because “I’m hoping I get a lot of apologies when that list comes out.”
“I’m really one of those other 500 guys in the league that hopes that list comes out so I can walk around and nobody whispers behind my back, saying that he did it that year.” By “that year” he means 2001, when Gonzalez hit 57 homers at the age of 33 after never topping 31 before or after.
* Last night at Dodger Stadium a remote-control airplane flew above the field before crashing into a fence next to the Diamondbacks’ dugout. Amusingly, players had vastly different reactions to the odd situation.
Matt Kemp said: “That was tight, I liked that. That stayed in the air for a cool two or three minutes.” On the other hand, Augie Ojeda picked up the crashed airplane and then ripped it into two pieces as the crowd booed. Bully.
* Dallas Braden has been one of the few bright spots in Oakland this season, posting a 3.89 ERA in 22 starts, but he’s reportedly “extremely unlikely to be back this year” because of lingering foot problems.
* X-rays came back negative after Adam Jones injured his ankle last night, but Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com notes that “he’s in a lot of pain at the moment and he figures to be out of the lineup for a while.”
* Back problems may relegate Gary Sheffield to pinch-hitting duties down the stretch.
* Jorge Posada: Great at hitting, not so great at counting.

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.