Ian Kennedy was suspended 10 games by Major League Baseball on Friday morning for his role in last Tuesday night’s benches-clearing brawl between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in Los Angeles. It was the longest suspension handed out to any player or coach involved in the fight and the lengthiest non-PED related penalty given to any pitcher since 2005.
The right-hander is appealing, and he feels like he has a decent case. Here’s what he told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic before the Diamondbacks’ loss to the Padres on Saturday night in San Diego:
“The guys in the past, with their first offense, have gotten around a five-game suspension, five or six,” Kennedy said. “I don’t understand why mine would be any different, why mine would be 10 when some people’s second offense was even less.”
“After doing research and talking to (agent) Scott (Boras) and finding out the numbers, it doesn’t really line up. I’m going to throw inside and hit people. But 10 games just doesn’t make sense.”
Kennedy did seem to aim a pitch directly at the head of Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig and another at the head of $147 million man Zack Greinke, though that type of stuff has happened many times before in baseball’s recent and not-so-recent past without prompting 10-game sentences.
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.