I’m hesitant to say that Padres manager Bud Black would like the fences to be moved in, because it seems from the article that the subject was brought up by reporters — and has been so brought up multiple times recently — and that Black was trying to be a bit coy with respect to his true feelings.
But hey, when has my hesitation to say anything stopped me before? It sounds like Bud Black wants the fences moved in at Petco Park:
On Monday, Bud Black was asked what his stance was on moving in the PETCO Park fences.
“I think there’s room for discussion,” Black said, choosing his words carefully before taking a long pause and repeating himself. “I just think there’s room to talk about it in our park.”
Black didn’t expand on what he said, but he hasn’t been one to typically discuss the park’s dimensions, even to that extent.
This kind of talk always depresses me. The park is the park and both the home team and the visiting team have to play in it. It if depresses offense, hey, it helps pitching, and that’s something that has benefited the Padres in recent years. And, as has been mentioned before, the benefits could be more than merely turning a few bad pitches into fly outs instead of homers. It could help San Diego on the business side as they are able to court pitchers in need of a career rejuvenation to relatively low-dollar one-year deals that a lot of teams would love. Jon Garland anyone? Aaron Harang?
For the rest of us: variety is the spice of life. There were so many small parks built in the past 20 years that it’s nice to have a couple that play big. Leave Petco alone!
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.