So, what are the Phillies up against?

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Philly is down 3-1.  Phillies writer Todd Zolecki put that in perspective after the game last night by noting that six teams have overcome 3-1 deficits in the LCS since it went to seven games in 1985: The 1985 Royals, 1986 Red Sox, 1996 Braves, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox and 2007 Red Sox. ESPN’s Jayson Stark expands on that sample a bit and notes that before this year 72 teams trailed 3 games to 1 in best-of-7 series overall. Of those, only 11 came back to win.

That’s rather daunting, statistically speaking, but I don’t know that the Phillies should be considered too great a longshot. At least compared to similarly situated teams.  The common denominator of the LCS comebackers? Great pitching. The 2007 Red Sox and 1996 Braves allowed the fewest runs per game in their league. The 1985 Royals were second. The 2004 and 1986 Sox were towards the top. Only the Marlins — overall — had pedestrian pitching, but they all surged late and in the playoffs. Each team had a go-to starter or two who made everything better. The Phillies still have three of them.

I wouldn’t lay my life down on the notion of Philly coming back, but of any team in that situation, you have to feel the best about one that can run Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels out there.

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.