Brett Myers said a few weeks ago that he was open to marketing himself as a starter or reliever in free agency, but his agent, Craig Landis, told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the veteran right-hander is now focused on being a starting pitcher. Makes sense in a world where Jeremy Guthrie gets three years and $25 million. Landis also confirmed that the Twins are among the teams who have expressed early interest.
“They’re interested, or perhaps even very interested,” Landis said. “And that’s about as far as we are right now.”
Twins general manager Terry Ryan would only go as far to say that he has “touched base with most of the pitchers on the market,” but Christensen was told by team insiders that Myers will be one of their primary targets because he could be reasonably-priced and would likely embrace making half of his starts in the spacious Target Field.
Myers pitched exclusively out of the bullpen this past season, posting a 3.31 ERA and 41/15 K/BB ratio over 65 1/3 innings between the Astros and White Sox. The 32-year-old has an underwhelming 4.27 ERA as a starter during his career and showed diminished velocity as a member of the Astros’ rotation back in 2011, but he could have some appeal as an innings-eater.
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.