Tito tinkers with the lineup, but it doesn’t really matter

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Terry Francona is tinkering with the lineup for today’s game with the Yankees: he has moved Carl Crawford to the top of the order — his fourth different slot in seven games — and he’s rounding it out with Pedroia second, Gonzalez third and then Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury and Scutaro.

Lineup order doesn’t interest me too much. For example, unlike some — who are taking this very seriously — I haven’t gotten too worked up over the Braves batting Jason Heyward sixth. Is it ideal? No. But batting order is a pretty small thing in the grand scheme and there are a lot of things more worthy of my limited supplies of ire. Like golf. God, do I hate golf.

As for the Red Sox, this lineup change comes with a couple of pre-set storylines, ready for any result in today’s game.  If the Sox score a lot and win, Francona “sparked” things by putting Crawford in the leadoff spot. If they lose, Francona was “desperately shuffling, hoping for a spark.”

There are a butt-ton of good hitters in that lineup. Eventually they’ll all hit, and it won’t really matter where they’re at.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.