Jake Peavy is just starting to throw again as he comes back from a fractured rib, so it’s a moot point for now, but the White Sox right-hander made it very clear yesterday that he doesn’t want to be traded.
Chicago is in last place at 32-43, so the White Sox shopping various veterans would make sense if things don’t turn around in a hurry, but here’s what Peavy told Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago:
I’ll just tell you that I don’t want that to happen, that I want to pitch here in Chicago and I want games I pitch in to be meaningful and for us to get back in the thick of things. Do I think that can happen? Absolutely. But we have to shore things up, take it day by day and win. I do understand the possibility of being moved if I am healthy or I’m not healthy. And that’s something that I leave up to the hands of Rick Hahn and his staff and I will do all I’m asked really.
If he can show that he’s healthy by the July 31 deadline Peavy would look awfully nice in a lot of contending rotations, but his being signed for next season at $14.5 million also complicates things. Peavy got off to a fantastic start, throwing 61 innings with a 2.97 ERA and 63/15 K/BB ratio through late May, but then he turned in back-to-back rough outings and suffered the rib injury. He’s due back shortly after the All-Star break.
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.