This is kind of fun. Alyson Footer tells about how back in the 90s, when she was doing Houston Astros PR work, one of her jobs was to keep track of all of the aliases that the players used when checking into hotels. Aliases that kept them from being bugged by fans but that, as a result, made it somewhat difficult for her to remember who was who.
Sadly there aren’t any totally awesome aliases mentioned here. Though, yeah, Carl Everett using “Rod Stewart” was pretty tight. I wouldn’t think of him as having a sense of humor. But actually, now that I think about it, it’s possible that he was just a dead serious Rod Stewart fan. Like, if you told him that “Young Turks” was a horrible, empty pop song which more or less spit on the raucous memory of The Faces and the genuinely sweet and affecting qualities of Stweart’s early solo work, Everett would beat you up.
Biggest surprise, though: Footer makes no mention of guys using the alias “Buck Naked.” It was the 90s for cryin’ out loud. If you asked 12 guys back then to come up with a fake name, at least seven of them would have used Buck Naked, right?
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.