This Associated Press report is full of living Hall of Famers crowing about yesterday’s Hall of Fame shutout. I won’t quote Goose Gossage because just about everyone in the planet has run his over-the-top rebop by now. Do remember, however, that prior to his induction Gossage believed that the Hall of Fame should open its doors to everyone and since his induction he basically thinks only he, Babe Ruth and maybe Willie Mays belong.
Other Hall of Famers, however, were just as pleased as Gossage. Take Al Kaline, for instance:
“I’m kind of glad that nobody got in this year,” Kaline said. “I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would’ve felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were.”
His later comments in the article make it clear that his discomfort is due to PEDs, but that doesn’t explain why watching Craig Biggio — a guy, like Kaline, who hung on and got 3,000 hits — would upset him so.
Dennis Eckersley joined the chorus too:
Seems right. Guys who are suspected of PEDs are bad. Almost as bad as players who make 13 year-old kids buy pot for them and then defend their actions by saying “I don’t recall anything from over 20 years ago. That’s what I’m sticking to.” Really: the baseball writers had no problem with the character of a guy who turned teenage team employees into drug mules and then offered a statement that makes Barry Bonds’ flaxseed oil story seem like the Sermon on the Mount, but Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell get blackballed because they heard a guy say that he knew a guy who says that maybe they used steroids once.
It’s all too much. So thank God for Juan Marichal, who won’t play along with this nonsense:
“I think that they have been unfair to guys who were never found guilty of anything. Their stats define them as immortals. That’s the reality and that cannot be denied … What we’re witnessing here is innocent people paying for the sinners.”
Look Juan, you have to understand: there is a price to be paid to keep Goose Gossage happy, and we should all just accept that, OK?
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.