Strong Island's Finest: Positional Players

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In honor of the U.S. Open out at Bethpage this weekend, let’s look at
the greatest baseball players from Long Island, or Strong Island for
all you meatheads, in Major League history. First, the position

Carl Yastrzemski, Southampton. 23 seasons with Red Sox … 452 HR,
1844 RBI, .285/.379/.462 … .369 AVG, 4 HR in 17 postseason games … 1967
A.L. MVP & Triple Crown Winner … 18 All-Star games … 7 Gold Gloves
… Hall of Fame in 1989.

Craig Biggio, Smithtown. 20 seasons with Astros … 291 HR, 1175
RBI, .281/.363/.433 … 414 SB (50 in 1998) … 668 2B, 5th all-time … 285
HBP, 2nd all-time … 7 All-Star games … 4 Gold Gloves … successful
transition from catcher to second baseman … dirtiest helmet ever.

John Valentin, Mineola. 11 seasons with Red Sox and Mets … 124
HR, 558 RBI, .279/.360/.454 … 47 2B in 1997 led A.L. … .347 AVG, 5 HR
in 17 postseason games.

A.J. Pierzynski, Bridgehampton. 12 seasons (and counting) with
Twins, Giants, and White Sox … 104 HR, 516 RBI, .284/.326/.428 … 2
All-Star games … traded to SF for Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano …
2005 World Series Champion … 27 GIDP in 2004 led N.L. … .300 AVG, 5 HR
in 30 postseason games … thrown out 3 of 41 base stealers in 2009 (7%).

Frank Catalanotto, Smithtown. 13 seasons (and counting) with Tigers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Brewers … 83 HR, 449 RBI, .292/.358/.448.

Tony Graffanino, Amityville. 13 seasons (and counting) with
Braves, Devil Rays, White Sox, Royals, Red Sox, Brewers, and Indians …
58 HR, 302 RBI, .265/.335/.394 … .231 AVG in 15 postseason games … once
traded for Tanyon Sturtze, who is definitely slightly crazy.

Keith Osik, Port Jefferson. 10 seasons with Pirates, Brewers,
Orioles, and Nationals … 13 HR, 108 RBI, .231/.308/.321 … 2 relief
pitching appearances, 2.0 IP, 9 ER, 2 K … threw out 29% of potential
base stealers.

Tom Veryzer, Port Jefferson. 12 seasons with Tigers, Indians,
Mets, and Cubs … 14 HR, 231 RBI, .241/.283/.294 … 9 SB, 23 CS … 2
seasons with 20+ errors at shortstop.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.