Earlier this week, ESPN’s Tim Koewn opened a story about ballpark dimensions by relaying an anecdote about a scuffle in the Padres’ clubhouse early last year.
Mike Adams, who now pitches for the Rangers, allegedly lashed out in a postgame rant, telling the team’s hitters to stop complaining about the dimensions at the pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Ryan Ludwick and Chase Headley were among the targets of his comments, which resulted in some sort of ruckus.
Interesting story and I recommend reading Koewn’s piece, but Headley told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday that the scuffle never took place.
“Ninety-eight percent of that article as it pertained to myself and the Padres was 100 percent wrong,” said Headley, who then gave his recollection of the meeting.
“We were playing bad. We had a closed-door meeting. At the end of his comments, Bud asked if anyone had anything to add. Mike (Adams) mentioned we needed to focus on winning and stop worrying about the ballpark.”
“My name and Ludwick’s name were never said by Mike. I never even spoke to Mike about what he said. It’s 100 percent false. It was a big surprise to me to read that. I was shocked and really disappointed. It (the story) made me look like a jerk.
Padres manager Bud Black also denied that a scuffle took place and Adams told Richard Durrett of ESPN.com that he didn’t direct his message at any one person. ESPN continues to stand by the report, which was recounted by multiple sources.
Regardless of whether the incident took place, it wouldn’t be surprising if Ludwick and Headley were frustrated at the time. Ludwick mentioned in February that “playing in San Diego screwed me up” while Headley owns a lowly .658 career OPS at PETCO Park compared to an .814 OPS on the road. We learned last month that the Padres are in the process of conducting a study whether to alter the dimensions of the stadium.
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.