Who will the Red Sox start at shortstop in the playoffs?

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Back in early August, when Jed Lowrie returned from the disabled list, manager Terry Francona indicated that Lowrie and Marco Scutaro would “split” playing time at shortstop for the Red Sox.

That didn’t last very long, however, as Lowrie was needed to fill in for the injured Kevin Youkilis at third base and Scutaro has now started 16 of the past 18 games at shortstop.

Scutaro is also hitting .308 with an .816 OPS during that time, which would seemingly make him the Red Sox’s choice to continue starting at shortstop down the stretch and into the playoffs, but Francona stopped short of saying that when asked yesterday.

“I guess it depends on how we’re playing and how guys are playing,” Francona told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. “It seems like things change weekly, if not daily. I guess I would fall back on the answer that I’ll try to put us in the best position to win and see what that is. I don’t think it’s necessary to have one guy be the shortstop. At the same time, maybe there’s a hot [hitter]. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

It’s a nice problem to have, of course, but right now everything points to Scutaro getting the bulk of the work.

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.