In a surprise twist, the Marlins still own Josh’s Booty

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If you watched the MLB Network’s recent reality show, you know that former LSU quarterback Josh Booty is in Diamondbacks camp, having become “The Next Knuckler.”

However, it turns out that should Booty stun the baseball world and actually impress enough with his knuckleball to continue his career, he’ll do so as a Marlin.

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Booty remains Marlins property since he retired, instead of getting released, when he left baseball to go play football 14 years ago.

Before spending two years at LSU and getting drafted by the Seahawks, Booty was a first-round pick of the Marlins in 1994, going fifth overall. Despite poor minor league results — he was a lifetime .198/.256/.356 hitter in five seasons — he appeared in the majors with the Marlins each year from 1996-98, going 7-for-26 with four RBI. He retired in Jan. 1999 to go play football.

Since Booty was on the retired list, the Marlins retained his rights for the duration of his absence from baseball. Now that he’s back, they’ll have the right to reclaim him at the end of spring training, should they wish to. Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks, the Marlins and MLB reached a resolution last week to let Booty carry on in Diamondbacks camp for now. It’s not expected that the 37-year-old right-hander will become a serious threat to return to the majors, but one never can tell with knuckleballers.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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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.