Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria Ready to Move On
Evan Longoria was “surprised and upset” when teammate Logan Forsythe was traded. Now that spring training has opened, Longoria likes where the Rays are heading.
Then the front office stepped in.
#Rays Longoria on Forsythe deal: “I’m surprised and upset at losing a player, clubhouse presence and friend like Logan. He’s a rare player”
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 24, 2017
Longoria of course was referring to the deal that sent fan-favorite Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitching sensation Jose De Leon.
You can’t really blame the Rays when you look at their pipeline and what they received in return. Brent Honeywell and Jacob Faria are two of the most exciting pitching prospects in baseball. The minute De Leon joined the Rays, most prospect pundits ranked him ahead of the Rays’ top two pitching prospects. You can’t pass that up.
Longoria wasn’t alone in his dismay.
Don’t care about numbers/sabermetrics. The way Forsythe plays the game, his abilities, his leadership and the ultimate pro he is…
— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
Very sad day for me personally, I’m losing one of my best friends and we’re losing one of our best players. Nothing but mad respect for him!
— Steven Souza Jr. (@SouzaJr) January 24, 2017
Forsythe was a nice player. Coming off of his breakout 2015, he answered with a .264/.333/.444 slash line in 2016. He belted 20 home runs and added 24 doubles, but his peripheral metrics tell the story of who he is.
If he wasn’t such a fan-favorite, more people would notice that his .778 OPS and 113 wRC+ are just par for the course. As Jayson Stark points out, he had the sixth best WAR of American League second basemen over the past two seasons. That’s some pretty hefty company, when names like Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano and Brian Dozier are ahead of you. But again, it is simply average at the end of the day.
But it’s not always about the stats. I can relate to Longoria — in a sense — as a baseball fan.
The New York Yankees put together one of the most dominating seasons in the history of the game in 1998. Front and center was their big lefty David Wells. Wells lived and breathed New York, pitching a perfect game hungover and rubbing The Bambino’s head every time he took the mound. He put together the best year of his career in that ’98 season, the Bronx faithful fell in love with him and it appeared that the Yankees were ready to roll into the new millennium with the best rotation in the game.
Then, the inevitable happened. Not only was Wells inexplicably traded, he was traded for a Yankees public enemy in former Red Sox ace Roger Clemens. Fans understood that you grab a Hall of Famer when the opportunity arises, but it came with much backlash.
It turned out okay for the Yankees as they won the World Series each of the next two years. For Longoria, he is seeing it the same way.
“You know, I can’t say that we got much better, with losing Logan,” Longoria told Stark. “But I think that if you take him away and then you insert the pieces that we have, I like it. I think that we’ve positioned ourselves to be right there again.”
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Longoria is coming off a mixed 2016. It was one that saw him put together the best year of his brilliant career, yet the Rays finished with their worst record of the Longo Era. In fact, they were among the worst teams in baseball, posting just 68 wins and finishing dead last in a rather weak AL East.
Now, their spark plug is gone. They have replaced him with some enticing young pieces, like De Leon and Mallex Smith. They also made some moves that make you wonder if the front office realizes that it isn’t 2013. Colby Rasmus and Logan Morrison are (more likely were) nice players, but replace what Forsythe brought to the table they do not.
The Rays infield won’t miss a beat without Forsythe. They have Matt Duffy for shortstop and can shift Brad Miller to second. Miller, after years of high expectations, found his power swing and gave the Rays a second 30-home run hitter in their lineup last season. Top prospect Willy Adames is not far away. Despite being a shortstop now, many see a shift to second in his future.
Losing a fan-favorite is never fun. Losing a leader and friend in the clubhouse is even harder.
Losing the other half of a beautiful bromance?
Well, that just doesn’t seem fair.