Johan Santana won’t be ready for Opening Day

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Johan Santana underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder in September. At the time it was reported that the time table for rehab was 24 weeks and that he could throw at 20 weeks. That would have had him throwing — not pitching — in mid-February.  As such, it seemed that it was pretty unrealistic that Santana would be ready to start the season. Sandy Alderson confirmed that yesterday:

“We’ve been told he’ll be able to begin tossing in January. But, realistically, I don’t think anybody expects him to be ready Opening Day. And, really, the question is when exactly he will be ready. Nobody has told us he’ll miss the season or anything of that sort. But I think that certainly we have to assume he’s not going to start the season.”

I think it’s fair to say that no general manager in baseball faces a tougher task than Sandy Alderson. I mean, sure, there are far worse teams, but at least in those situations you can just bulldoze everything and start over. The Mets, however, have enough pieces to be respectable, but enough problems — things like trying to find a replacement for an ace — that getting to that point is going to be really hard. Add in the managerial search and the inherent pressure that goes with New York, and it’s just a really hard job ahead of him.

 

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.