Let’s watch someone convince himself that Wilson Valdez isn’t a falloff from Jimmy Rollins

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I don’t know if Jimmy Rollins is going to stay in Philly. I kind of think he will because it’s a great match and I have a hard time envisioning a world in which he isn’t wearing red pinstripes. But I do know this much: if he leaves the Phillies, the team would be way worse off if they decided to make Wilson Valdez their everyday shortstop.

Not that you’d know it from reading this blog post from Bob Vertone at Philly.com today:

The Phils had a better record over the last two seasons when Valdez started at shortstop than when Rollins did. Even if you throw out the seven games Rollins started during the eight-game “hangover” this season, his win percentage (.622) is lower …

Because as we all know, the only thing that impacted any of those games was the presence of Wilson Valdez and the absence of Jimmy Rollins. Nothin’ else was going on. At all.

Beyond that, Vertone tries to make a case that the differences between Valdez and Rollins aren’t all that great. Which is quite a trick when you realize that Rollins has an OPS+ of 97 in over 7500 career plate appearances while Valdez has an OPS+ of 67 in just over 1000.  And that Rollins is still a damn solid shortstop. And that Valdez is himself turns 34 next season.

Rollins may play someplace else in 2012. If he does, you can bet your bippy that the Phillies are going to look for a replacement for him who is better than Valdez. Or, if they don’t, they’ll know that they’ll have a big falloff at short that they’ll have to make up elsewhere.

Of course, as the pic reveals, Valdez is versatile. Maybe he can help out in the pen.

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.