Mark DeRosa left last night’s Giants-Dodgers game after tweaking his wrist while waiting for a pitch from Clayton Kershaw. He didn’t even swing at it, actually, just was digging in and cocking the bat in anticipation. He looked to be in some pretty obvious pain. While the initial word was that he would be day-to-day, Bruce Bochy said after the game that he “could be out for a while.”
We touched on this a couple of weeks ago when Pablo Sandoval went down: the Giants offense stinks, its best hitter is out for a while and now, the guy who is probably his best replacement — DeRosa — is injured again. So, you’re back to Miguel Tejada posing as a major league hitter and Brandon Belt tattooing the ball down in Fresno. Time to think out of the box, right?
Aubrey Huff is thinking outside of the box, and he says he’s willing to move from first to third base, which would allow Tejada to be benched and Belt to slide in to his natural position at first.
Likelihood: extremely low. Belt has been taking all of his reps in the outfield at AAA and the Giants are unlikely to want to move Huff around any more than they already have, because — with all respect — his glove stinks on ice. And because he hasn’t played third base since 2008, and even then it was (a) sporadic; and (b) poor.
But you know what they say about desperate times and desperate measures, right?
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.