HBT Weekend Wrapup

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I took Friday off, which has me completely discombobulated, baseball wise. I’m going on vacation next week and will be unplugging for the entire trip. If I can expect my discombobulation to be seven times what I’m feeling right now, I’m pretty sure my chances of surviving with my sanity intact are zero. So welcome to the last productive week of HardballTalk!

As for the weekend:

  • Jonathan Broxton lost his closer’s job because he has lost his confidence. This is the saddest thing I’ve witnessed since that evil doctor stole Fonzie’s cool in that late-run “Happy Days” episode. Of course by that point they had introduced Roger and Eugene, made the Fonz a teacher and Jenny Piccolo was a real character instead of someone Joanie just talked about, so the cool was long gone to begin with. Much like the Dodgers’ playoff chances.
  • Andy Pettitte suffered a setback during a simulated game. No one is sure if the setback itself is real, however. Simulated games are like the “Inception” of the baseball world in that way.
  • The Rangers’ new owners lower beer prices, among other fan-friendly things. Doing such a thing is such a no-brainer in terms of the creation of fan goodwill that it’s amazing more teams don’t do stuff like this. I mean really, if anyone is qualified to make no-brainer moves, it’s baseball owners.
  • When does Jose Canseco’s big league pension kick in? Because, really, it’s getting sad to see him go from job to job like this. Of course, Canseco serving as bench coach is fairly useful in that it conclusively proves what I’ve long suspected: bench coaches don’t actually do anything.
  • Chipper Jones had successful surgery. I am not making this up: part of the ligament graft came from a cadaver. Which means that the Mets’ worst fears will be coming true next season: Zombie Chipper.
  • K-Rod apologizes. I haven’t read the apology yet, but I assume it has something to do with his pummeling fists being taken out of context.
  • It’s cute that Joe Torre thinks he’s still in New York and thus the whole world is waiting to hear what his career plans are.
  • Carlos Zambrano wins his first start since his return from crazyland. This was really the only game I saw over the weekend. My daughter watched part of it with me. After listening to some of the game she said “what are ‘his issues?'”
  • A-Rod hits three bombs against the Royals. If I ran a New York tabloid I’d be real tempted to have one of my columnists write a thing about how Rodriguez is too lazy to run and thus insists on slow jogs.
  • Rob Dibble kinda sorta not really apologizes for making fun of some women fans he assumed to be talking about shopping while in the stands at a Nats game. He did not apologize, however, for failing to grasp the irony of his calling people out for talking bullsh– during a baseball game.

And with that, let us proceed with our week, shall we?

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.