Wrong hole, Buster!

15 Comments

ESPN’s Buster Olney just proposed the following on Twitter:

Idea in Monday column:Ask players in March if they will attend ASG if asked and participate if not on DL. If they decline,no name on ballot.

Obviously, this is in response to the fact that 16 players have been replaced since the All-Star Game rosters were officially announced a week ago.

But it’s such a ridiculous idea that does no one any good.

Of the 16 players replaced:

– Nine were pitchers, who aren’t listed on the ballot anyway (and six of those were scratched only because they pitched Sunday, with another getting scratched because he is on the DL).

– Six were position players nursing legitimate injuries that left them unable to play this weekend.

There were only two players actually chosen for the All-Star Game who opted out despite being able to play: Derek Jeter, who is a week removed from a DL stint caused by a strained calf, and Mariano Rivera, who was unavailable for two days last week because of a triceps strain.

In addition, there’s Aramis Ramirez, who almost certainly would have taken part in the All-Star Game if asked initially, but declined when offered a last-minute invite because he had already planned his vacation.  Technically, he was never on the team anyway.

Look, I think it’s as ridiculous as anyone that there are going to be 84 players able to call themselves All-Stars this year.  But it’s not a case of players choosing not to participate; it’s a function of MLB’s decision to bloat the rosters in a completely ridiculous fashion.

And, really, does Olney expect Jeter, one of the game’s most media-conscious players, to decide in March to rule himself out for the All-Star Game? Seriously?

Take this one back to the drawing board, buddy.

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

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
8 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.