Some of you wasted your weekend running errands, mowing lawns, going to graduation parties and spending time with your families. Some of you were smart and read HardballTalk. For those in the former camp, here’s some of what you missed:
- Carlos Zambrano returned to the rotation. And lost;
- The Royals may have already locked up their first round pick . . . who they won’t pick until today, so that, like, makes them psychic or something;
- Randy Winn signed with the Cardinals. Between that and the Phillies getting Willy Taveras, the market on sawdust-filler outfield help is getting tight;
- Carlos Beltran is playing honest-to-goodness baseball;
- Clackin’ that bat, gone with the wind, Garrett Wittels has done it again;
- Oliver Perez on the DL just when the Mets need a roster spot? How . . . convenient;
- Jason Heyward strikes out five times. So does Mark Teixeira. Took Teixeira extra innings to do it, though, so Heyward totally wins;
- D-Train debuts in desert; does dandy;
- Mike Cameron is bringing sexy back. Or something.
- Jeffrey Hammonds and four other guys were drafted before Jeter. Which is weird, because Hammonds is 49 years-old, isn’t he? Or does it just seem like he is?
- Mike Stanton is coming up. Between him, Strasburg, Heyward and Ike Davis it’s been quite the year for young NL East talent. Meanwhile, Domonic Brown has nose pressed against a window somewhere, sadly watching all the other kids have fun.
- And of course, here’s your week ahead.
Happy Monday, everyone.
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.