Rosenthal: Oswalt should be more flexible

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Ken Rosenthal thinks that Roy Oswalt needs to drop his demand that whatever team he goes to pick up his 2012 option. He also thinks that Oswalt needs to be more flexible about the teams to which he’d accept trades:

If Roy Oswalt wants to be traded – really wants to be traded – he should start acting like it.

That means dropping any demand for a potential suitor to exercise his
$16 million club option for 2012; his new team could compensate him for
waiving his no-trade clause in a less extravagant way.

It also means staying open-minded on which teams he would approve
for a trade; the Cardinals, his reported first choice, are not the only
club with a chance to win the World Series.

Remember, Oswalt asked the Astros to trade him, relaying his request
through his agent, Bob Garber, in May. Some rival executives find it
galling that the pitcher now seems to be trying to orchestrate every
term of his departure.

I see what Rosenthal is saying — and I’d agree with him wholeheartedly if Oswalt was out there complaining about the Astros not being able to find a trade partner or something — but I’ll note that no one ever expects teams to simply surrender the leverage for which they have bargained.  And I’ll also ask: in what “less extravagant way” could a new team compensate Oswalt for dropping his no-trade rights?  The minute he drops them, he has zero leverage to demand anything.

We certainly shouldn’t hear Oswalt to complain if the Astros can’t trade him given what he’s asking for, but in a world where teams can control where players work for the first six to twelve years of their career before the player even gets a bit of say in the matter, I have no problem with Oswalt using whatever means are at his disposal to get what he wants for the final handful of years of his career.

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.