Joel Sherman of the Post thinks he has an idea: either January 3 or January 13. Why?
Here is why: The Hall of Fame announcement is Wednesday, Jan. 8 and both the Commissioners Office and the Players Association would probably ask Horowitz to be respectful not to overwhelm such a special moment with a Rodriguez announcement.
So he figures that either going before that — on the third — or safely after — on the 13th — would give the Hall of Fame announcement the wide berth it deserves.
Which, eh, not buying that that is a concern for anyone. For one thing, MLB is not in control of the arbitrator’s calendar. They’re just as much at the mercy of his schedule as A-Rod’s team is. And I’m having a hard time featuring Horowitz caring too particularly much about MLB’s P.R. needs. Given that he can be fired by either side for any reason, he has no real option but to be his own man. If is seen to be leaning to help one side, the other is going to fire him.
But let’s say that MLB and the arbitrator are on the same page, P.R.-wise. Remember last summer how the first wave of announced suspensions came right before Hall of Fame induction weekend? Selig LOVED that because it gave him a victory lap moment up in Cooperstown with copious quotes from ex-major leaguers about how the game was being cleaned up and all of that stuff. You don’t think Bud Selig would love to have Frank Thomas or someone available to compare and contrast himself to A-Rod in early January? You bet your bippy he would. I think MLB would be just fine being able to pair up the announcement of A-Rod’s suspension and the election of some widely-perceived-to-be-clean Hall of Famers.
Of course, if the decision is to overturn A-Rod’s suspension, well, that would be hilarious.
Maybe that’s when the decision comes out. Maybe it isn’t. But I don’t think that reading the tea leaves like Sherman is here is all that useful of an exercise.
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.