Yesterday’s arrest for DWI and child endangerment will not affect the Mets’ plans to induct Dwight Gooden into the team’s hall of fame, the Daily News reports. As of now he’s scheduled to be inducted alongside Darryl Strawberry, Frank Cashen and Davey Johnson.
Probably worth noting that this was not some definitive team statement endorsing Gooden or anything. From the article it seems like someone simply asked the team, the team basically said “um, we just heard about this and haven’t changed our plans,” which is probably all you can say in such a situation. It will take bigger fish than a media relations person to make a final call on such a thing.
Hard to say what the right thing to do is, here. On the one hand, honoring someone who hasn’t acted all that honorably is not the best idea on the planet. On the other hand, this is technically for a “hall of fame,” and when I think hall of fame I think “museum” and “history,” and I’m inclined to not let moral and ethical lapses of the subject of history affect the recording of that history. At least that’s how I think about it when it comes to Cooperstown. Let in the jerks. Let in the drug users. We can all assess how their personal failings impact their legacy, but let us not erase the legacy or pretend that they didn’t exist.
I guess all of this depends on how much this thing the Mets are doing is really about recording history vs. how much it is about having “Dwight Gooden Day” as a promotion. If the former, sure, go on as planned. If the latter, eh, maybe take the whole matter under advisement, allow this episode to unfold, determine how ugly it is and then make a decision later.
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.