Impolite or not, A-Rod’s “attack” on Michael Weiner is not out-of-bounds

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When Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit against the MLBPA came to light yesterday, immediate attention went to the allegations that the union and its late Executive Director, Michael Weiner, did not properly defend Alex Rodriguez’s interests. Initially there was surprise, but that surprise is now turning into scorn, as if A-Rod is somehow going after the character and integrity of Weiner. And, what’s more, that it is somehow the lowest of low rent moves due to Weiner’s recent death.

Stuff like this from the New York Post, which implies that his allegations against Weiner are “shocking” and make quick mention of his recent death to imply that they are likewise in poor taste. Stuff like this tweet from Jeff Passan and a couple of references in the linked story invoking Weiner’s death, suggesting that A-Rod’s suit against the union is all the worse — and that A-Rod himself is somehow worse — because the allegations come after his passing.

I’ll state at the outset that there is no one in baseball’s management/executive structure that I have greater respect for than Michael Weiner. The way he went about his job, his success at his job and everything I ever learned about him from people who knew him well suggests that he was a wonderful, honorable man. I’ll further state that, while I may have approached things differently if I were Weiner or MLBPA here, I don’t feel as if A-Rod is going to have a lot of success in his suit against the union and that his claims of it and Weiner’s alleged mistakes are overstated and, legally speaking, are likely insufficient to get him anywhere.

But with that said, I think it’s a but much to go after A-Rod and his lawyer as if they are ghouls here.  Nowhere in the complaint or in their public statements are they attempting to impugn Weiner’s character or worth as a person and nowhere do they reference his health or any other personal matter. They reference his public acts as the Executive Director of the union and take issue with those acts done in his official capacity. This may upset some who remember Weiner fondly and/or who think negatively of A-Rod (i.e. just about everyone) but the allegations are the only way possible to assert claims against the union, which he has a legal right to do and, depending on your view of the results of this case, an obligation to do.

I get that A-Rod is a pariah, but that doesn’t mean he has to forfeit legal arguments available to him. I get that Michael Weiner was a wonderful person, but that doesn’t make him immune from criticism in his official capacity.  To suggest otherwise is evidence of emotional baggage being brought into the matter at the very least and could very well be construed as emotionally manipulative.

However understandable the impulse for such things are, they really don’t have a place in this conversation.

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.