Rangers voice Dave Barnett expected to miss rest of season

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Rangers play-by-play announcer Dave Barnett, who hasn’t been back in the booth since the incident two weeks ago in which he started spouting nonsense on the air, said Monday that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence.

As you may remember, Barnett pretty much lost it for a few seconds in a game on June 18, reporting that “the go-ahead run is at fifth on what [Mike] Adams is insisting on calling it a botched robbery. What actually happened was his henchman took piece literally out of,” before his mic was cut off. He was put back on the air 20 seconds later and everything seemed normal enough afterwards, but it was announced the next day that he was being sent for an evaluation.

“I want to thank everyone for your kind sentiments and words of encouragement over the last couple of weeks. It has meant a lot to me during what has been a very difficult time,” Barnett said in today’s statement. “Effective immediately, for health reasons I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my broadcasting duties that I expect to last for the remainder of the season. I would ask that you please respect the privacy of me and my family during this time.”

Steve Busby, who was doing radio play-by-play, will continue to fill in for Barnett on the TV side.

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.