NLCS Game 3 lineups: Brewers vs. Cardinals

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Here are the lineups for Game 3 of the Brewers-Cardinals series:

   MILWAUKEE BREWERS            ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1. Corey Hart, RF            1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Mark Kotsay, CF           2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF            3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B        4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B          5. Lance Berkman, RF
6. Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B        6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS   7. David Freese, 3B
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C        8. Nick Punto, 2B

SP Yovani Gallardo, RHP      SP Chris Carpenter, RHP

Nyjer Morgan is slumping offensively and struggling defensively, so manager Ron Roenicke has benched him for Game 3 despite facing a right-hander. However, instead of starting Carlos Gomez he’s going with Mark Kotsay, who’s 37 years old and started just nine games in center field during the regular season. Kotsay is 4-for-11 off Carpenter during his career, but 11 at-bats spread over a decade isn’t exactly meaningful.

With ground-baller Chris Carpenter on the mound Tony La Russa is going with his best defensive second baseman, Nick Punto. He’s also sticking with Matt Holliday in the cleanup spot and Lance Berkman batting fifth.

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.