Daily Dose: End of the line for Big Unit?

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Randy Johnson seemed optimistic after having his injured shoulder
examined by team doctors Monday, explaining: “I’m feeling a lot better
than I was three weeks ago” and will “have to get with the doctor and
see what he recommends and just kind of take it from there.” Less than
24 hours later his Hall of Fame career was put in serious jeopardy
following the diagnosis of a partially torn rotator cuff.

Johnson is hoping to pitch again this season, but the soon-to-be
46-year-old has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list and won’t
throw again for at least 2-3 weeks. He’s been relatively effective
while going 8-6 with a 4.81 ERA and 80/31 K/BB in 92 innings this year,
but rotator cuff injuries are incredibly tough to come back from for
26-year-olds, let alone 46-year-olds. Cooperstown class of 2015?

While one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history
could be facing the end of the line, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Even after trading Ryan Garko the Indians inexplicably refuse to
simply call up Matt LaPorta and stick him in the lineup every day, but
in the meantime they did bring up former top prospect turned current
bust Andy Marte. Marte has had zero success in the majors, hitting .211
with a .603 OPS in 174 games, but is still just 25 years old despite
being around forever and has been thriving at Triple-A.

While playing at Triple-A for the fourth straight year, Marte has
hit .327/.369/.593 with 18 homers and 24 doubles in 82 games to reverse
a long trend of declining production. Between his .277 career batting
average and poor 50/22 K/BB ratio this year the odds are against Marte
hitting more than .250 or so, but he blasted 25 homers per 600 PA at
Triple-A even prior to showing this season’s huge pop.

* Jason Giambi’s trip to the disabled list with a quadriceps injury
opened the door for Daric Barton to get another long look in Oakland,
but he suffered a hamstring injury of his own five games in and joined
Giambi on the shelf Tuesday. Barton’s long-term outlook has declined
dramatically during the past two seasons and he now looks likely to
become merely a solid regular rather than a potential star.

He’s expected to return in 2-3 weeks, but with Giambi also sidelined
the A’s have turned to minor-league veteran Tommy Everidge at first
base. Everidge made his MLB debut Tuesday and went hitless in his first
four at-bats before delivering an RBI double with two outs in the ninth
inning as the A’s erased a three-run deficit against Jonathan Papelbon.

Everidge is 26 years old and had a mediocre track record in the
minors prior to this season, but hit .306/.380/.489 in 55 games at
Double-A and .382/.432/.636 in 43 games at Triple-A to earn the
call-up. My guess is that he won’t stick in the majors, but Everidge
has averaged 21 homers per 600 plate appearances along with solid plate
discipline, so he could certainly have AL-only value for a little bit.

AL Quick Hits: Chien-Ming Wang has decided on shoulder surgery
after meeting with Dr. James Andrews, ending his brutal season at 1-6
with a 9.64 ERA … Jim Thome was held out of Tuesday’s lineup with back
soreness … Matt Wieters had his first four-hit game Tuesday, raising
his batting average to .273 … In a swap of backup outfielders, the
White Sox acquired Mark Kotsay from the Red Sox for Brian Anderson … As
of Tuesday night, general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that his “gut”
feeling has Roy Halladay staying in Toronto … Daisuke Matsuzaka told
Japanese reporters Monday that the Red Sox’s training methods are to
blame for his shoulder problems … Scott Kazmir threw more than seven
innings Tuesday for the first time in over a year, holding the Yankees
to one run while beating CC Sabathia … Ian Kinsler left Tuesday’s game
with a strained calf … Mark Buehrle followed his perfect game by being
flawless through five innings Tuesday, setting the MLB record with 45
straight batters retired before falling apart in a loss.

NL Quick Hits: Roy Oswalt has been diagnosed with a strained
back after exiting Tuesday’s start in the second inning … Matt
Lindstrom (elbow) is due to come off the disabled list this weekend,
but may not immediately resume closing … Pedro Martinez hinted that he
hopes to join the Phillies’ rotation after his second rehab start
Friday at Triple-A … Todd Wellemeyer has been shifted to the bullpen
after posting a 5.79 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 110 innings, with Mitchell
Boggs replacing him in the rotation for now … Troy Glaus’ rehab stint
has been indefinitely put on hold because of lingering back pain …
Oakland shipped Sean Gallagher to San Diego to complete the Scott
Hairston deal, making him a nice fantasy sleeper for next season …
Colby Rasmus (heel) was back in the lineup Tuesday after sitting out
four games … After missing four weeks with a broken toe, Ryan Dempster
came off the shelf by allowing six runs over five innings Tuesday.

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.