I knew it! The guy is on his best behavior for a while, making us think that he’s all about dedicating himself to baseball in an effort to justify that out-sized contract, but really it’s all about the spotlight for him. Him and his actress girlfriend and the cover of fashion magazines, with the subheadline “the swinging years.”
Just so typical. I mean, that Alex Rodriguez is so full of — wait, what? You mean it’s not A-Rod on the cover of GQ? It’s Jeter? And he’s talking about how he’s gone out of the way to keep his private life private as opposed to getting is splashed all over the tabloids? Oh, well. This is embarrassing …
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t go out and have fun. But there’s been a lot of players that come to New York and get caught up in the lifestyle, and before you know it, they’re sent away to another team because it affected their performance. My number one priority was on the field. I’ve had fun. It’s not like I’ve never gone out; I’ve done a lot of things. But I’ve always kept sight of my number one priority.”
Sigh. Even in a big glossy magazine feature he comes off as a boy scout. And that’s pretty hard to do. I’m convinced at this point that if you put subconscious-reading electrodes directly on his cerebrum and fed him a steady diet of seared scallops in a truth serum-infused reduction for months on end and you’d still get nothing better than “I just try to be prepared out there,” references to “Mr. Steinbrenner” and rebop about how playing for the Yankees is a great honor. Really, his professionalism and polish are practically sickening at this point. At least for those of us who require a steady dose of human frailty to make us feel better about the fact that we more or less topped out during our junior year of high school.
But I hold out hope. I’ve always maintained that if we ever get a really juicy Derek Jeter story, it won’t come via a Derek Jeter interview. It will come via interviews with Derek Jeter’s doormen, personal assistants, maids, butlers, valets, neighbors, and pharmacists over the past 15 years. And if anyone has the email address of any of those people, by all means, please submit it to be via the “Send Tip/Feedback” button in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.