The City of Oakland decides to flush $750,000 down the toilet

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Earlier this month we passed along word that the City of Oakland was developing a ballpark plan for the A’s. It was facing a dilemma, however because of Major League Baseball’s continued dithering on the whole can-the-A’s-play-in-San Jose issue.  Should the city spend the money for an environmental impact assessment when it’s unclear whether the team has any intention whatsoever to stay in town? As of Tuesday, the city council’s answer is yes:

The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to spend as much as $750,000 on an environmental study for a new ballpark, even though the owner of the A’s is trying to move the team to San Jose … Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, the plan’s most vocal opponent, said it is foolhardy to spend money for a study when there is no commitment from A’s owner Lew Wolff or Major League Baseball to keep the team in Oakland. He was joined by Councilwoman Nancy Nadel in saying that the city should not fund the report.

“Let’s also be realistic about Major League Baseball’s tactics and how they play,” De La Fuente said. “I think they’re trying to play off one seat against the other in order to get the best deal they can (between Oakland and San Jose).”

People in Oakland should listen to Ignacio De La Fuente. The only way the A’s will consider staying in Oakland at this point is if the Giants simply insist that they can’t be bought and make it clear that their threats of litigation in the event the A’s try to move to San Jose are serious.

Before that?  This environmental study will simply be used by the A’s as leverage to extract a little something extra out of San Jose. Or, best case scenario, will be a simple waste of taxpayer dollars.

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.