Competitive balance fine, no need for expanded replay, says MLB President

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Baseball’s president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy was on “Mike & Mike in the Morning” yesterday, and was asked about the Yankees’ alleged buying a title. His response:

“I don’t think that’s a fair statement. Competitive balance has been a hallmark of the entire tenure of Commissioner [Bud] Selig. The numbers tell an awfully compelling story. Twenty of the 30 clubs have made the playoffs the last 10 years, when we’ve had eight different World Series champions. There is too much disparity. We’d like to see that gap close. That’s why we’ve been pushing revenue sharing. But if you look beyond the Yankees, that ratio is more compressed than people realize.”

That last bit reminded me of the famous Marion Barry quote in which he said that if you take out the killings, Washington D.C. actually has a very very low crime rate. Absolutely true! Totally not comforting!

DuPuy went to call for a reformation of the draft to add international players. Though he didn’t say it explicitly, he was also clearly advocating for hard slots on amateur signing bonuses. Both of those things will be demanded by the owners the next time the Collective Bargaining Agreement is up for renewal. If I had to guess now, I’d say that the players will give that to the owners, simply because neither of those things directly impact current players.

Finally, DuPuy was asked about the bad umping during the playoffs. In response he dismissed the call for expanded replay and said “Our job is to get the very best umpires on the field and for them to get the calls right.”  Given that he called some of the plays this postseason “inexplicable” I’m inclined to believe that there are some umpires — say, Phil Cuzzi and Tim McClelland — who are going to get blasted back to the stone age as a result of their performance this fall.

That’s not enough for some GMs, however, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports today:

“The playoffs were a mess,” a National League general manager said.”There is no reason not to have a replay ump upstairs.”

A second GM agreed but said he expects no action on replay in 2010. “That speaks to a real lack of vision and leadership at the commissioner’s office,” he said.

Psst! Bob! He’s talking about you.

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.