That’s awfully listy sounding, isn’t it? Don’t worry: I’m not going all Bleacher Report or Buzzfeed on you. This really does link to a story that provides three reasons why the Phillies won’t sign Josh Hamilton.
It’s from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, who knows the Phillies as well as anyone. He says Josh Hamilton is not going to sign there for the following three reasons, which he ranks from smallest reason to biggest:
- “Hamilton hits left-handed and the Phillies would like to add a right-handed bat to complement the tandem of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.”
- “Hamilton will likely seek a long-term payday in excess of $100 million … It’s doubtful they want to write a check that big.”
- “The Phillies have shown a willingness to spend big money — for the right player, and the right player is often one with impeccable intangibles. Hamilton just doesn’t seem to be the right player.”
I sort of discount reasons one and two in and of themselves. Sure, you don’t want to be too left handed, but if you need a bat you sign he best hitter, right? All things being equal you go with a righty, but if things aren’t equal and the lefty is better, you deal with it.
“Over $100 million” seems kinda broad. Might a team not reasonably sign him to a five-year, $20 million a year deal but balk at seven years? I get what Sailsbury means about the Phillies already having big payroll, but I think we’re going too far to say that there isn’t some reasonable but still large Josh Hamilton contract to be signed by someone. He has risks, but he’s not chopped liver.
The intangibles? Well, that is what it is. The Phillies have tended to go for good character guys, but they’re not fanatical about it. I could see him scaring them off.
This is not to pick nits. I think, in its entirety, Salisbury paints a pretty convincing picture of a bad match between the Phillies and Hamilton. But I don’t think it’s an overwhelmingly silly idea. Just unlikely.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.