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Lawyers have taken over the Rally Cat Saga

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The saga of Rally Cat has taken a troubling turn.

When last we checked in on this story, the Feral Cat Outreach center of St. Louis had taken temporary custody of Rally Cat and the St. Louis Cardinals believed they were going to obtain full custody. They had even planned a Rally Cat promotion and everything.

Not so fast, says the lawyer working for the Feral Cat Outreach Center! From the Riverfront Times:

Rally Cat may have captured the hearts of Cardinals’ fans, but the team cannot count on recapturing Rally Cat, says Albert Watkins.

The quotable Clayton attorney says he has been retained to help the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach fight for the feline’s best interests — and at this point, the nonprofit is not at all convinced that his future lies with the Cardinals’ organization.

“While he will always be a Redbirds fan, he has to think about his future as well,” Watkins says. “His working days in the playing fields of Busch Stadium appear to be over. … Much like any custody battle for children the world over, what’s important here is what’s in the best interests of the health and welfare of the cat.”

It seems the Cardinals have upset the Feral Cat Outreach Center by virtue of their presuming that they’d get Rally Cat when it was anything but a done deal. They may have big plans for Rally Cat, but the Center’s lawyer says that there are still unanswered questions about how the cat will be taken care of. It’s all rather vague and some personal discord between Cardinals officials and Center officials seem to be complicating it. A tale as old as time? I dunno.

I do know cats, though. I’ve adopted seven cats from shelters in the past 22 years and there is, without question, a varying degree of, well, difficulty one experiences with certain shelters. Some are happy for anyone to come and take their cats as long as they seem like nice people and have a permanent address. Others are a lot more exacting. Back in 1995 I got a cat from a shelter in Alexandria, Virginia. They wouldn’t let me take her home until they conducted a home visit. No lie. They sent someone to my apartment to make sure it was suitable. I appreciated that their heart was in the right place — and I ended up getting the cat — but it was all rather ridiculous.

It’s hard to say if that’s what’s going on here. Maybe the Center in St. Louis is legitimately worried that the cat will become a sideshow and be shuffled between homes of interns or something. Maybe they’re just trying to get a big donation from the Cardinals. Maybe this lawyer is just a publicity hound and the story is getting blown out of proportion.

I will tip my cap to the lawyer for his hustle, though. If I knew there was business to be found in representing cats, I’d probably still be in the game.

UPDATE: OH NOES!

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.