There’s some mystery surrounding the Yankees parting ways with pitching coach Dave Eiland.
Last week Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reported that he was fired due to a falling out with Joe Girardi, but Eiland called that “absolutely ridiculous and simply not true” while being effusive in his praise of the Yankees’ manager.
At the same time Eiland declined to comment on the reasons behind his firing and general manager Brian Cashman has merely said that it’s a “private” matter.
Eiland took a 25-day leave of absence for personal reasons in June and Murray Chass–who was once a columnist for the New York Times and is now a schlub blogger like the rest of us–suggests that has everything to do with the move:
Cashman refused to say why he fired Eiland, but he apparently was being honest when he said it had nothing to do with the team’s pitching. The dismissal, as it turns out, stemmed from the 25-day leave of absence Eiland was granted in June. Neither the coach nor the Yankees said why Eiland took the leave other than to say it was to take care of a personal matter.
The matter was serious enough that the Yankees told him he could return to his job as long as he didn’t resume any of the activities that led to his leave of absence. He didn’t adhere to the agreement and was fired. No one has spelled out those activities, and I will refrain from speculating.
Chass has done the whole “I will refrain from speculating” thing before, like all the times he’s blogged about Mike Piazza’s back acne and accused the catcher of steroid use without actually accusing him … all years after he failed to ever mention it in the New York Times.
In this case it’s equally easy to read between the lines and figure out what Chass is saying about Eiland, which is why his “I will refrain from speculating” claim is so silly. If you know something, either say it or don’t say it. Saying it in such a way that allows you to claim you didn’t say it … well, that’s just bad blogging.
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.