Rockies use six pitchers to shut out Padres

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If Padres GM Jed Hoyer wasn’t on the phone bringing Anthony Rizzo up from Tucson after this one, I don’t know what it’s going to take.

The Rockies’ Clayton Mortensen, who entered with as many teams pitched for as career victories (three), combined with five relievers on a 3-0 shutout of the Padres on Monday.

After Mortenson got the job done for six, the Rockies used Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt and Matt Reynolds to get through the seventh and eighth innings.  Huston Street came in and pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.

It was a 1-0 game most of the way, as the Rockies took an early lead on an infield single from Troy Tulowitzki that scored Chris Nelson in the first.  They didn’t make it 3-0 until the top of the ninth, when Seth Smith and Chris Iannetta drove in runs.

The Padres had nine hits in the contest, matching the Rockies’ total.  But whereas give of the Rockies’ hits went for extra bases, the Padres managed just one double, that coming off Jorge Cantu’s bat.

All signs point to the Padres calling up Rizzo in short order.  Usual first baseman Brad Hawpe got the start in right field Monday as he tries to get reaccustomed to his old position.  Rizzo, one of baseball’s top prospects, is hitting .365/.444/.715 with 16 homers and 63 RBI in 52 games for Triple-A Tucson.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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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.