Alexi Ogando replaces CC Sabathia replaces James Shields

2 Comments

By the time the day ends, you and I might be All-Stars.

See, a few years back, MLB, in response to complaints about the All-Star managers favoring their own players, gave the players a chance to vote on All-Star picks.

And that wasn’t a bad idea.  The problem was that MLB now keeps turning back to those players ballots each time a players pick for the All-Star Game withdraws.

So, we get fame (Scott Rolen) over production (Aramis Ramirez), saves (Jordan Walden) over performance (David Robertson) and, somehow, Kevin Correia.

We also have a rule about how every pitcher starting the Sunday before the All-Star Game had to be replaced on the roster.

And, now, we have CC Sabathia replacing James Shields, only to be immediately declared ineligible and get replaced by Alexi Ogando.

Thanks to MLB’s decison to create a set of rules about how replacements have to be chosen Sabathia, who was probably deserving anyway, gets his All-Star appearance and any applicable bonus, all without having to travel to Phoenix.

And Ogando, who is 9-3 with a 2.92 ERA for the Rangers, will go in his place and perhaps pitch in the game.

The league also announced today that rookie Michael Pineda would replace Justin Verlander, another Sunday starter.  Later, another pitcher is expected to be named in Felix Hernandez’s place.  We’re planning to have a full update on all of the All-Star roster changes after that.

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

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
5 Comments

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.