HBT readers are smart

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Mark Runsvold has been reading and commenting on HBT since its inception and before that was reading my old blog, Shysterball.  I always knew he was rather bright based on his comments, but I had no idea that he was going to do something like win $48K in one day on Jeopardy!

But that’s what he did on Friday, his first day on the show.  I’m told it was a single-day record, but I couldn’t confirm that, mostly because Jeopardy! fan sites scare the living crap out of me.

Mark is back tonight to defend his title, so check your local listings.  Of course this was all taped back in March so it wouldn’t do too much good to wish him good luck, but I’m sure you’ll think of something. As a trivia nerd whose one attempt to get on Jeopardy! ended in failure — 1997; I passed the test but sort of wigged the talent search people out because I was fidgety on the buzzer during the practice game — I choose to use Mark’s run, however long it lasts, as a vicarious sort of experience. The marriage proposals included.

Oh, and Mark: if you get “baseball” as a category and you don’t get every clue correct, well, we’re just going to pretend that we don’t know you.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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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.