Yes, you need to read another post about Jack Morris pitching to the score

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It’s Joe Posnanski’s post, and it’s a good one. Yes, he goes over a lot of the old Jack Morris territory, but he also has some stuff in there which explains why we go over this territory so damn often.

After observing, as many have, that Jack Morris got a lot of run support and thus had a lot of good fortune in games where he gave up a lot of runs, Posnanski gets to what I feel is the heart of the “Jack Morris was awesome and pitched to the score” religion:

Our first instinct, it seems to me, should be to think: Jack Morris was a lucky guy.

But that’s not an especially interesting or happy conclusion. Nobody ever really likes giving too much credit to luck. When people come back from Vegas with more money than they started, you might hear them say, “Yeah, I got lucky.” But then you’ll probably also hear about their brilliant blackjack maneuvering or the way they manipulated a poker pot or their roulette system or something else because, in the end, it’s hard for any of us to believe that it’s ever really all luck. We do desperately want to believe we have some control over things.

This doesn’t just apply to Morris. It applies to any number of evidence-free conclusions people make about baseball. This guy or that guy being a “competitor” or a “leader.” Someone else being “clutch” when nothing in the data suggests that he actually was.

But it even goes beyond baseball. There isn’t an aspect of life which isn’t touched by this. An instance where something either simple or, alternatively, something which is apparently inexplicable, doesn’t make people want there to be a more complicated or more satisfying explanation. One that, preferably, puts themselves or their heroes in a better light. One which makes them significant or important.

Jack Morris couldn’t have just been lucky, because he was awesome. Jack Kennedy couldn’t have been killed by a lone gunman because he was inspirational. People like me aren’t wealthier and healthier than people different from me because the world is capricious, because we are special and chosen.

Such thinking is eminently understandable because we are human beings and human beings, for all of our intelligence and reason, are capable of great irrationality. And such thinking almost always obscures what’s actually friggin’ going on.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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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.