Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright is over 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery and has not experienced any sort of setback. He recently shifted his rehab base to the team’s spring training facilities in Jupiter, Florida and is expecting to be at full strength by the time St. Louis’ other pitchers arrive.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has been saying that Wainwright will be limited to around 150-170 innings this season as a precautionary strategy, but the 30-year-old right-hander is hoping to defy that.
Here’s Wainwright, speaking Saturday at the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up (via MLB.com’s Jen Langosch):
“One hundred and fifty innings sounds like half a season to me,” said the 2010 NL Cy Young Award runner-up. “Any pitcher that is out there competing [his] tail off and is decent at what he does should throw more than 150 innings. That would never ever be a goal of mine. I kind of refrain from setting inning goals, especially this year.”
Wainwright posted a 2.42 ERA and 213/56 K/BB ratio across 230 1/3 innings in 2010, and a 2.63 ERA and 212/66 K/BB ratio over 233 innings in 2009. He’s averaged 199 innings per year since the ’07 season.
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.