It sounds like Bobby Valentine has lost the clubhouse

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Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has a story up today that makes it sound like Bobby Valentine has lost the Red Sox clubhouse. He has cool relations with his coaching staff, Edes reports, and he has lost the support of the veterans, assuming he ever had it:

David Ortiz publicly stated his support recently for the manager, but another respected player on the team said privately that it was all for show. That same player has gone weeks without speaking to Valentine and said that the manager does not have the support of “anyone” in the clubhouse … Valentine went out to the mound in Chicago for a visit with his pitcher, and all the infielders joined him for the conference except star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who remained at his position.

Edes ads that players are grumbling about the Youkilis trade and that they are taking complaints about Bobby Valentine to GM Ben Cherington. Who, quite obviously, was not on board with the Valentine hire in the offseason, but rather had it foisted on him by team president Larry Lucchino.

It’s hard to know what really goes on in a clubhouse and, it’s worth noting, these stories always exist because someone has an ax to grind and seeks out the media to help him grind it.  The other side — where there is harmony — doesn’t get reported, at least at first.

But to the extent there is something bad going down inside the Sox’ clubhouse, it would not at all shock me if this is a logical extension of how Terry Francona was treated last year. The coaches with whom Valentine is reportedly having trouble were Francona assistants. The veterans all reportedly liked Francona.  He was thrown under a friggin’ bus and, though it’s not Bobby V’s fault that happened, he’s the guy who is going to get the cold shoulder.

If the Sox turn this around competitively and win despite the strife, all of this will be viewed with some amusement like the 1977 Yankees or it will turn into some coming together narrative. If the Sox lose, though, it’s gonna be ugly, ugly, ugly.

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.