Bobby Valentine was a guest on WEEI in Boston a few minutes ago and it is being described by some — not unfairly, I don’t think — as a “meltdown.” You can listen to the whole thing here or, alternatively, read the summary of it written up by Alex Speier:
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, in an animated and contentious interview on The Big Show in which he suggested that he would like to punch radio host Glenn Ordway in the face, said that he would like to return to manage the Red Sox in 2013, even after a 2012 season that he characterized as a personally “miserable” one.
“This is what I chose to do. I think it’s been miserable, but it’s also been part of my life’s journey,” said Valentine. “You learn from misery.”
The threat to punch Ordway in the mouth came when Ordway asked him if he had “checked out”:
“What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there right now, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How’s that sound? Is that like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing,” said Valentine. “Why would somebody even, that’s stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone’s here, watching me go out at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room — how could someone in real life say that?”
Bobby V. sounds at turns belligerent, fatalistic and miserable. He’s also not dumb, and you get the sense that he knows he’s going to be fired at the end of the season. Almost makes me wonder if he’s trying to get fired a few weeks early.
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.