In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has some very juicy details about Red Sox players not loving their time with manager Bobby Valentine.
According to Passan players “blasted Valentine to owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino during a heated meeting called after a text message was sent by a group of frustrated players to the team and ownership in late July.”
Passan specifically cites Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia as having spoken up on behalf of teammates upset over Valentine leaving Jon Lester in to allow 11 runs on July 22.
And during a meeting at a New York hotel called by ownership Passan says “some players stated flatly they no longer wanted to play for Valentine.” That was nearly three weeks ago and obviously nothing has happened since then, at least publicly. In fact, Henry gave Valentine a vote of confidence just last week, saying a change will not be made this season and scoffing at the idea that the manager was to blame for the team’s sub-.500 record.
However, at this point Valentine’s odds of returning in 2013 are very much in question. Passan details a whole bunch of other alleged incidents throughout the season that paint the clubhouse as anything but thrilled with Valentine. General manager Ben Cherington confirmed that the meeting took place, calling it “productive” and “a forum for people to express whatever frustration needed to be expressed.”
Boston is 57-59 under Valentine, who hadn’t managed in MLB since 2002 with the Mets and took the job after serving as an ESPN television analyst. And dating back to the second half of last season under Terry Francona the Red Sox are 75-87 in their last 162 games.
For a whole lot more, read Passan’s full report.
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.