D’Backs owner Ken Kendrick takes on Stephen Drew, Justin Upton

18 Comments

Ken Kendrick, managing general partner of the Diamondbacks, decided to go public with his frustrations regarding Stephen Drew and Justin Upton on Tuesday.

Drew, of course, has yet to play this season after breaking and tearing ligaments in his ankle last July. He has recently been participating in extended spring training games.

That’s not enough for Kendrick, who apparently believes Drew should have returned several weeks ago. Doing a radio interview today, he said:

You know, I’m going to be real direct about Stephen. I think Stephen should have been out there playing before now. And, frankly, I for one am disappointed.

I’m going to be real candid and say I think Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where Stephen is going to be a year from now than going out and supporting the team that’s paying his salary.

All you can do is hope that the player is treating the situation with integrity, and, frankly, we have our concerns.

Kendrick also had some remarks for Justin Upton, who has been a disappointment while hitting .243/.340/.365 with five homers and 20 RBI in 181 at-bats this season.

Well, I think Justin is an enigma at this point. I know he had an injury early on, maybe a little bit of a nagging injury. But he’s played. He’s certainly not the Justin Upton that he has been in the past and that we would expect of him. He’s 24 years old, and it’s time for him to be a consistent performer and right now this year he’s not been that.

What Kendrick hopes to gain from his little rants is unclear, but Drew sure is looking like a goner at season’s end. There’s a mutual $10 million option for 2013 on his contract that neither the Diamondbacks nor Drew might have much interest in exercising.

Upton is almost certainly around to stay. Kendrick might want to back off there, considering that Upton was one of the NL’s most valuable players last season. It’s not as though he’s been a long-term disappointment. He’s off to a rough start, but at the same time, he’s not exactly killing the team with his league-average OPS.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

Brian Blanco/Getty Images
7 Comments

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.