John Farrell isn’t banning anyone from using Twitter for now, but the Blue Jays’ new manager said yesterday that he’ll “advise” players to avoid social networking because “they set themselves up for another distraction.”
Farrell explained to John Lott of the National Post that the Blue Jays informed all players about the “pitfalls” of social networking, saying “they’ve got to be careful.”
Here’s more from Farrell, who spent the past five years as the Red Sox’s pitching coach:
We’re not going to say they can’t do it. But I think they’ve got to be careful. If they’re going to engage in it, then they really need to be able to follow through on some of the things that might be put out there. I think there’s also some falseness to some of the accounts that might exist. I’m not going to say it’s identity theft, but there’s certainly people that pose to be others that could be serving as an imposter-type vantage point that is out there. So they’ve got to be aware of all these things.
He’s right about the impostors, of course, but professional athletes can easily have their accounts verified by Twitter to remove any doubt about their identity. As for needing to be careful what players post on Twitter, that’s certainly true. However, it’s also true about what they say during radio interviews or how they look when fans stop them at a bar to snap a picture, or any number of other situations in which using good judgment is important for a public figure. Twitter is no different, it’s just newer.
Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and J.P. Arencibia are among the Blue Jays players on Twitter and MLB recently published a list of nearly 300 verified player accounts, so Ferrell is likely fighting an uphill battle unless he decides to enact a ban. And he shouldn’t, because Blue Jays fans no doubt enjoy following their favorite players and presumably most grown men with high-profile jobs can help themselves from posting anything too salacious just because they can.
Incidentally, there are no impostors involved in my Twitter account. It’s real and it’s spectacular.
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.