Curt Schilling to skip Friday’s Fenway bash

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Curt Schilling’s video game responsibilities will prevent him from attending the 100th anniversary ceremonies at Fenway Park on Friday:

To Red Sox Nation,

I apologize that business at 38 Studios has made my participation in the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park impossible. Please understand that should in no way indicate my love and passion for Red Sox Nation. There was no greater feeling than standing on that mound, in that park, in front of you fans. The memories I was honored to be a part of, from David’s walk off HR in the 2004 ALDS, to going 4-0 in World Series games in that park, to the true honor of wearing that uniform every single day is something I am blessed to have, and will never forget.

I was and always have been opinionated, and unafraid to share my opinion, and for that I accept whatever it is you think of me. But please know that when I had the ball in my hand I gave the team, and you, every ounce of everything I had to get a “W”. It was an honor to wear the uniform, and compete with the incredible team and teammates I was allowed to.

Every great memory I have in that uniform is because of the people that paid to watch us play, and I will be forever grateful to you for that.

Thank you and God Bless
Curt Schilling

Some of Schilling’s recent comments have been poorly received by Josh Beckett and Bobby Valentine, but this looks more like a simple scheduling conflict than anything else. Despite the dropouts, it still figures to be a star-studded affair tomorrow.

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.