It was ruled last week that Josh Hamilton will receive no discipline after his recent drug relapse. The Angels released a statement in the wake of the decision to express their disappointment, which sure sounded like a team who was upset that they still had to pay him. Angels owner Arte Moreno stepped up the rhetoric last night by refusing to say whether Hamilton would play for the team again and even indicated that the team could look at language in his contract to get some salary relief.
Craig Calcaterra reported last night that Hamilton’s contract doesn’t include the language that Moreno specified, so the Angels might not have much in the way of recourse, but this situation is getting uglier by the second. C.J. Wilson, the Angels player representative with the MLBPA and a teammate of Hamilton dating back to their time in Texas, isn’t pleased with how it’s being handled by his team:
Wilson is speaking some serious truths here. Hamilton has underperformed in his contract with the Angels until this point, but chances are they would be much more supportive of his situation if he was still producing at an MVP level. It’s shameful, but predictable. The 33-year-old Hamilton is still owed $83 million through 2017.
Check out Wilson’s full comments here.
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.