Trio of Red Sox win American League Gold Gloves

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Rawlings unveiled the 2011 Gold Glove award winners this evening, but things didn’t go exactly as planned. The new award show was going to be televised on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET, but it was pushed back for about 45 minutes due to a high-scoring college football game between Northern Illinois University and Toledo. Once the show finally got underway, the full list of award winners leaked via the Associated Press and I’m going to assume whoever was watching probably turned the channel to a Seinfeld re-run or something. Nice try, Rawlings. Better luck next year?

Anyway, we’ll start with the American League winners and do a separate post for the National League. Keep in mind that we have one winner for each outfield position for the very first time:

C – Matt Wieters, Orioles (first Gold Glove)
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox (third Gold Glove)
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (second Gold Glove)
SS – Erick Aybar, Angels (first Gold Glove)
3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers (third Gold Glove)
LF – Alex Gordon, Royals (first Gold Glove)
CF – Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (first Gold Glove)
RF – Nick Markakis, Orioles (first Gold Glove)
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox (third Gold Glove)

Ellsbury, Pedroia and Gonzalez give the Red Sox three winners in the same season for the first time since Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn and Rick Burleson won at their respective positions back in 1979.

I refuse to get worked up over the voting, because really, it’s pointless, but Alex Gordon topping Brett Gardner in left field is probably the biggest surprise of the bunch. Gordon led American League outfielders with 20 assists in 2011, his first season as a full-time outfielder, but Gardner is about as good as you can get in left field and would make a great center fielder if Curtis Granderson wasn’t around. Here’s your biggest head scratcher of the evening.

I would have preferred J.J. Hardy over Erick Aybar at shortstop, but it’s nice to see his teammate Matt Wieters get recognized for his excellent contributions behind the plate. The 25-year-old threw out 37 percent of baserunners this season, topped only by Miguel Montero among qualified MLB catchers. While it hasn’t happened as quickly as some expected, Wieters is well on his way to emerging as one of the better all-around players in the American League.

* The original post gave the impression that MLB unveils the Gold Glove award winners. For accuracy’s sake, I wanted to make it clear that this is Rawlings’ show. 

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.