I like the Kevin Youkilis signing by the Yankees. I’m not sure he has a return to form in him — it’s not the years, it’s the mileage, as the man once said — but if he does bounce back he’s gonna be nice to have around even if A-Rod does recover.
And let’s face it: the Yankees didn’t have unlimited options at third base. Indeed, as Sweeny Murti noted over the weekend, the pickings were pretty darn slim:
It is interesting to note that once word leaked out early this month about A-Rod’s status, the Yankees received plenty of inquiries from players and agents who felt they could help fill the hole. One was from Cody Ransom, the man who started the 2009 season as the Opening Day 3rd baseman when A-Rod has his first hip surgery.
I’m assuming some have chosen to have amnesia over this, but there were Yankees writers [cough] Ian O’Connor [cough] who made the straight-faced argument in early 2009 that the Yankees were better off with Ransom than A-Rod. It was all tied up in A-Rod’s PED revelation from that spring. But rather than simply note that it was a bummer of a story, some dudes decided to throw reason aside and actually say that A-Rod shouldn’t have gotten his job back when he came off the DL following his hip surgery. Of course A-Rod went on to hit .286/.402/.532 with 30 homers, 100 RBI and led the Yankees to a World Series championship. Ransom was DFA’d that August.
Another one Murti mentions: Troy Glaus, who called the Yankees saying he was ready for a comeback. The same Troy Glaus who took all of 2011 off and then a year ago said he considered himself retired. In his last season, with the Braves, Glaus was limited to first base because he couldn’t make the throw from third.
So, yes, Kevin Youkilis is a pretty good option.
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.