Link-O-Rama: Uggla expects to be traded by Marlins

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* Due a big raise this offseason via arbitration, Dan Uggla indicated yesterday that he expects the Marlins to trade him. Uggla isn’t much of a defender at second base, but the former Rule 5 pick has posted an OPS above .800 in each of his four seasons in Florida while going deep 27, 31, 32, and now 29 times.
* Rich Harden lasted just three innings in yesterday’s start and is now the latest big-name pitcher to be shut down, perhaps for the remainder of the season. Harden may end up hitting the open market if the Cubs decline to offer him arbitration this winter.
* Struggling for the first time this season, Padres closer Heath Bell decided to change his luck by shaving off the goatee that he’s had for five years. His wife “loved the change,” but as Bell explains his 7-year-old daughter had a slightly different reaction: “She took one look at me and said, ‘Daddy, go put your beard back on, now.’ Jordyn told me, ‘Daddy, I’m mad at you this is going to make me cry.'”
* So Taguchi literally didn’t pick up the phone when the Cubs called him up Wednesday night. “I don’t have any friends in Chicago, so I thought it was a wrong number,” Taguchi said. “So I just ignored it for maybe two hours.”
* As usual, The Onion hits the nail on the head: “Derek Jeter Honored For Having Fewer Hits Than Harold Baines.”

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.