Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin was on WTMJ radio today and was asked about the Nyjer Morgan/Albert Pujols business from last night. Summary here, actual broadcast here. Upshot: He’s not happy. He said that manager Ron Roenicke is going to deal with Morgan “internally,” and likely not by giving him a firm handshake and an “‘attaboy.” He was also asked about Morgan’s lame tweets about “Alberta” Pujols after the game:
“The whole tweeting thing in sports is probably something that needs to be addressed,” said Melvin. “But it’s out there and we have to deal with it.”
Just to be clear, for the 100th time, the problem is not with tweeting itself. The problem is with people — especially notable public figures like Morgan — who don’t understand that tweeting something is the same thing as saying something into a the microphone of Chuck Chuckson from Action 9 Sports. Impress that upon the minds of your players and then treat them exactly like you’d treat anyone who said stupid crap to a reporter after the game.
As for Morgan, the thing I wonder the most about is his self-awareness. He’s having a great season, but he’s also capable of having crap seasons too. A variable player who is no doubt playing in some good luck this year. History is littered with people who can get away with anything when they’re successful, but whose act grows tired fast the moment they stop being successful.
You’d think that, in light of that, Morgan would dial it back a bit. I mean, if you’re Albert Pujols or someone super awesome and consistent like that you can afford to be a jerk sometimes. If you’re not, you can’t.
Oh wait. Albert Pujols is never a jerk like that. Maybe there’s a lesson in that too.
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.