Do you feel like the Tampa Bay Rays made a pair of bad moves this past weekend? If so, you’re not alone. The former and current faces of the franchise reacted negatively in the wake of the decisions to designate OF Corey Dickerson for assignment, and trade No. 2 starter Jake Odorizzi to the Minnesota Twins for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios.
Evan Longoria was the first player to go public with his thoughts on the decision to DFA Dickerson, tweeting words of encouragement to the now former outfielder.
Go be an All Star again @MCoreyDickerson.
— Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) February 18, 2018
Longo later elaborated on his six word tweet on Sunday at Giants camp in Scottsdale, Ariz.
It’s really hard to come into a clubhouse and to win when you give away your best players, Longoria told reporters. Corey was our best player last year. He was better than me. Logan Morrison hit 38 home runs, but overall, Corey was our best player.
The former franchise cornerstone, who is clearly still emotionally invested in the Rays fan-base, continued:
It’s kind of a shame, I don’t understand it. The guy was an All-Star last year. He’s in his early prime. He’s still controllable. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Corey will end up somewhere and continue to be the player that he is. But I kind of just feel bad for the Rays’ fan base.
And I feel bad for the guys this year who were probably counting on Corey to put up numbers to help the team win. I’m not going to take too many shots. But I think it’s pretty obvious that the guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFA’d.
Staff ace Chris Archer also was shocked by the moves, saying the team is not as good as it was 24 hours prior.
Definitely two tough losses. Between eight and 10 p.m. (Saturday) was tough. There is a level of certainty that Odi brought.
Archer said Odorizzi’s leadership and professionalism will be missed in the clubhouse:
He was definitely a quiet leaderthat everybody in the clubhouse respected. He’s a professional.
You can hear Archer’s comments below (Courtesy of Rays Radio):
CF Kevin Kiermaier made very clear Monday what he thought of the weekend decisions to part ways with veteran Dickerson and Odorizzi, saying:
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.
Kiermaier agreed with the comments made by Longoria about how the moves were bad for the team, however, he also conceded that part of being a professional is eventually having to get over it:
With that being said it’s my responsibility, and now the team’s responsibility, to move on. It’s over with. It’s done. Got to move on from it.
We can not sit here and dwell on it. We can sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. Chatter amongst each other. But it’s over with, it happened. We still have a really good team in here, got a lot of good guys. I believe in these guys. We lost two great players. It’s terrible. At the same time, life goes on. We still have to do what we have to do to go out there and get as many wins as possible.
Manager Kevin Cash praised both players leaving, although he also is excited to add Cron to the fold, sing the team’s depth in left-field, as well as in the rotation, will help make up for the losses
Any time you’re around these guys, Jake for three years, (Corey) for two years, they had big impacts on the field and the clubhouse for us. You hate to see them go, but you understand what we’re trying to accomplish.
Cash also defined what the Rays starting rotation will look like over the first month-and-a-half of the season, calling for a four-man rotation early on with Matt Andriese playing a multi-inning role in the ‘pen.
We are going to a four man rotation out of the gate. A lot of that is because of the schedule. If we ran a five man rotation, you’re talking an extra day, an extra two days almost every time through. Cash said. I’d think any starting pitcher would tell you that it’s not ideal for them. We are going to just shorten that up and insert a starter, a spot starter, or a bullpen day on those days that are needed.
Due to the abundance of early off-days — eight in the first 38-days of the season — Cash is planning to use Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Faria as starters, preferring to keep them pitching on close to a regular schedule.
There will be four stretches in that span when the team will play five games or more, so — much like last season — they will either summon a spot starter or make it a bullpen day. By the time they need a fulltime fifth starter, they may deem one of the young arms — Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon, Ryan Yarborough or Yonny Chirinos — ready.
Andriese was not too happy by the decision, however, as Steve Kinsella (Sports Talk Florida) noted, the right-hander is best suited for the ‘pen as reflected in his career numbers. In 44 career starts he is 14-14 with a 4.55 ERA (113-ER/223.1-IP). In 28 games as a reliever he’s pitched to a 2-4 mark with a 3.54 ERA (22-ER/56-IP).
Andriese said he had prepared all offseason to be a starter, and was “shocked” when he was told Sunday that he would be moving to ‘pen, although he also said he’ll roll with it and do best he can.
Kinsella hit on another reason Andriese is best suited as a reliever: problems getting through a rotation a third time through. The first time through the order he holds the opposition to a slash line of .253/.299/.377. The batters start to pick up the pace the second time through hitting .291/.330/.485. By the time the hitters are seeing him for a third time, there aren’t many tricks in the bag as they hit .299/.361/.545 against him.
We talked to Matt today, Cash said. Obviously, sure there is some disappointment. He came in built up. In his mind he was going to be a starter. Matt’s been there, done it, and if you look at Matt’s track record we’re trying set him for six weeks of building something that we know we’re going to lean on him for. Let him respond to some shorter work loads and see how how his arm bounces back.
You can hear Cash’s comments below (Courtesy of Rays Radio):
As I wrote on February 8, Andriese was projected by PECOTA to pitch out of the ‘pen as a long reliever.