In that USA Today salary piece I linked yesterday, Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio complained thusly:
“We’re struggling to sign (first baseman Prince Fielder) and the Yankees infield is making
more than our team.”
Yankees’ President Randy Levine fired back today:
“I’m sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running
the Brewers. We play by all the rules and there doesn’t seem to be any
complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions
of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years.
Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your
players. The question that should be asked is: Where has
the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?”
Seems like a rather prickly and, well, downright mean comment from Levine, doesn’t it? I mean, Attansio may have been a bit whiney, sure, but he was merely describing a reality in payroll disparity, not indicting the Yankees. At least from what I can tell.
And to be fair: the Brewers do take revenue sharing money — reportedly about $30 million this past year — but they also have an $85 million payroll, so it’s not like they’re pocketing the money, which is the implication of Levine’s comment. The Brewers also play in a market with a population less than one-tenth the size the Yankees do, and a decent chunk of that is lousy with Cubs fans. I think the Brewers do a pretty good job all things considered. Seems like it would call for a more politic response from Levine than the rebop he gave.
In other news, what happened to the idea of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman doing all the talking for the Yankees and the rest of the royal court keeping the heck out of things? That has seemed to work pretty well these past couple of years.
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.