Mike Rizzo and the Nationals are feuding with their own Single-A team and things are getting ugly

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Last week Washington general manager Mike Rizzo went public with his complaints about the field conditions in Potomac, which is home to the Nationals’ high Single-A affiliate, calling them “dangerous” and “a safety threat.”

That apparently didn’t sit very well with Potomac owner Art Silber, who fired back in the Washington Times today:

He clearly doesn’t know what he was talking about. He has no idea what has happened at our ballpark and really shouldn’t be commenting on it. The field is fine. We’re not sure why Mr. Rizzo made the comments he did, which were, really, very unfortunate. They certainly did not reflect the reality for us.

There are perhaps valid reasons for the poor conditions in Potomac, such as a recent storm flooding the field, but for Silber to suggest that “the field is fine” is absurd. Does he think Rizzo didn’t hear complaints about the field from numerous players, coaches, and Nationals staffers before spouting off? Does he think fans who’ve watched games at Potomac’s ballpark this season haven’t commented about what a mess things are there? There’s a reason why Silber has been working on building a new ballpark.

Heck, Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times notes that as recently as last week five Nationals executives were in attendance when managers from both teams and the umpiring crew agreed that the field was unplayable. All of which is why Rizzo “stood by his statement” after being told of Silber’s response.

And Silber’s isn’t the only person upset over Rizzo’s comments. In fact, his response seems downright pleasant compared to Prince William Board of County Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart:

Rizzo ought to focus on doing his job, which could probably use some improvement. He’s talking out of his rear end. He doesn’t know what’s happening because he didn’t bother to check. Frankly, he’s not a good manager. He’s received a lot of criticism for his performance for the job he should be doing. He should stick to the job he’s supposed to do instead of getting involved in something he doesn’t know about.

Fenno writes that Stewart’s voice was “shaking” with anger as he uttered the above quote and he went on to call for Rizzo to be fired.

I’m not exactly the world’s biggest Rizzo fan, but a crucial aspect of his job is the development of minor leaguers and keeping them healthy is a big part of that, which is why there was speculation the Nationals promoted Bryce Harper from low Single-A to Double-A because they didn’t want him playing on Potomac’s field. Rizzo later denied those claims, but the notion that keeping tabs on the playing conditions in the minors doesn’t qualify as “doing his job” is silly.

And here’s a pretty simple solution if Silber and Stewart want Rizzo and others to stop criticizing the playing conditions in Potomac: Fix the damn field.

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.