A not-so Old Timer

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As Matt mentioned over the weekend, it was Old Timers Day in Yankee Stadium yesterday. One of the timers was not so old:

At the new Yankee Stadium on Sunday, the former pitcher Mike Mussina
was the newest Yankee old-timer and probably the most physically fit.
He started the nostalgia game, allowing hits to the first four batters
. . . When someone asked Mussina if he could come back for a partial
season the way Roger Clemens did, Mussina smiled and shook his head.

“There’s less than half a year left and it would take me a month,
easy, to be even close to ready, and I don’t know what ready would be
for me,” Mussina said. “Full speed might be 78 miles per hour . . . I
can still play. It’s just that there’s a lot of other stuff involved,
and sometimes that stuff wears you down. All the other old-timers are
older than I am. But it’s O.K. I’ll be an old-timer the rest of my
life.”

Noted, but I can’t help but think that he’d make about 20 rotations
better than they currently are. Still, nice to see someone happy in
retirement. It’s rare that anyone leaves big time sports on their own
terms, and rarer still that someone who does so sticks with it, and
happily.

It’s like he’s the Anti-Favre.

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

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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.