The Mets had Matt Harvey on the mound today and they got three homers for the offense. That should be a sure recipe to snap a little two-game losing streak, right?
No, not even close. The Mets blew a 6-4 lead as the bullpen gave up seven runs in three innings Sunday in an 11-6 loss to the Marlins. It gave Miami its first three-game sweep of the season.
The Marlins were 13-41 and were averaging 2.7 runs per game this season before busting out for 24 runs in the three games against the Mets. Ed Lucas, a 31-year-old who just made his major league debut Thursday, went 4-for-4, and rookie Marcell Ozuna drove in four runs. Greg Dobbs punctuated the win with a three-run homer off LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth.
Harvey had a rare off day for the Mets, giving up four runs in five innings, but he still left with the lead. Of course, that didn’t last. Scott Rice came in to start the sixth and followed up a groundout with three straight walks. For some reason, he was allowed to continue, and Ozuna delivered a two-run double to erase the lead.
Rice, whose only value is as a lefty specialist, was allowed to face seven batters in all and gave up four runs. He took his fourth loss to go along with three victories. It’s a truly remarkable number of decisions for a guy who should be getting one or two outs most games. He’s been involved in three more decisions than anyone else who could be considered a lefty specialist (Tampa Bay’s Jake McGee and the Yankees’ Boone Logan are both 2-2). It doesn’t make Terry Collins look good that the most inconsequential pitcher on the staff has been that much of a factor.
The lone good news for the Mets today was that Ike Davis had a two-run homer and an RBI single. The homer, which was estimated at over 420 feet, was his first since April 25.
The Mets are now 22-32 on the season. Only the Marlins and Brewers have worse records in the NL.
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.