espnW’s Amanda Rykoff is at WFAN’s Breakfast with a Champion event in New York this morning, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman is talking to the media. She’s live-tweeting it, and it you can check out her feed now to see what all the columnists will be talking about tomorrow. Among the comments from Cashman that might have some legs:
- WFAN’s Mike Francesca arrived late, turned to Cashman and said “How are you?” Cashman said “I’d be better if I could get a starter.”
- He thinks that Derek Jeter will be moved off shortstop during his current contract period, probably to the outfield.
- Cashman said that that the New York media coverage can wear a guy out. That sound you hear is Bill Madden re-jiggering his “Cashman wants to be a small market GM” column with some extra “I told you so’s.”
- Cashman was asked, once again, about Joba Chamberlain starting. He said that Chamberlain hasn’t been the same pitcher since his injury that occurred in Texas back in 2008. This has been suspected, but I believe it’s the first time that the Yankees have publicly acknowledged that Chamberlain’s injury was a big deal.
- Cashman said that the Red Sox are the better team today, but that the Yankees have a better bullpen. He said that the Yankees are one starter away from being a World Series contender.
- He called Mariano Rivera “The best Yankee I’ve ever seen.” With apologies to Derek Jeter, I’d probably agree with that assessment. I’m not talking about value in some statistical sense — he’s still a closer — but in terms of the awe he inspires, I don’t think any Yankee of the current era comes close to Mo.
Fun stuff. It should give the New York press material until pitchers and catchers report. Thanks for passing it along, Amanda.
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.