The White Sox haven’t made a final decision, but pitching coach Don Cooper told Scott Merkin of MLB.com yesterday that Jake Peavy could be activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday against the Angels.
“We’ll have a sideline and see,” said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of the plans for Peavy once he arrives. “Nothing is definite. We haven’t sat down and spoke about it. But it looks good for the 11th.”
Peavy threw 100 pitches while giving up five runs over seven innings Thursday in his latest minor league rehab start with Triple-A Charlotte. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since undergoing a unique procedure to repair a detached lat muscle near his right shoulder last July.
The interesting angle of his pending return is that Phil Humber has made a strong case to stay in the starting rotation. He gave up two runs on three hits over seven innings against the Mariners last night and now has a 2.65 ERA over six starts this season.
Following last night’s loss to the Mariners, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com that he’s lobbying for Humber to stay.
“He’s staying in the rotation; he has to stay,” Guillen said, moments after Humber gave up two runs over seven innings Friday against the Mariners. “I don’t think we are going to see anything different. When Jake comes in the rotation, we will talk to [GM] Kenny [Williams] and [pitching coach Don Cooper] to see what we are going to do. But this kid has earned and deserves to be in the rotation.”
It’s possible that the White Sox will go with a six-man rotation initially, but Humber will likely be bullpen-bound once his unsustainably low batting average on balls in play (.202) regresses to the mean.
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.