Brad Mills: “I wish the best for the players and the fans”

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The Astros fired manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham late Saturday night after falling to 39-82 on the season with an eight-run loss to the Diamondbacks.

Here’s the reaction from Mills after his meeting with members of the Houston front office, courtesy of MLB.com beat writer Brian McTaggart:

“You know when you’re having a rough season and everybody always brings it up, nobody lets you forget it. I love the players, I love the effort they gave every day. They’ve been great to me and how they’ve gone about everything and I love our fans. The fans we have here in Houston are the best and they’ve been great to me as well and I appreciate them an awful lot and I wish the best for the players and the fans as we move forward.

We’re going to move forward with some things and see what happens. The biggest thing is I’d like to go see my son play. For years, I’ve never really gotten an opportunity to watch him play and I want to see my daughter in law and see my granddaughter and watch him play a little bit and go from there.”

Mills’ son Beau is currently starting at first base for the Reds’ Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, Florida. As of Saturday night, the 26-year-old was batting .269/.348/.503 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 48 games.

Mills, who turns 56 years old in January, had a 171-274 record in his three seasons with the ‘Stros.

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.