I get a little annoyed when Yankees and Red Sox fans openly covet non-free agent players from other teams, acting as though it’s only a matter of time before they become the property of Boston or New York. Of course sometimes there’s good reason for such thinking. Here’s recently-fired Padres’ GM Kevin Towers on the latest object-of-desire, Adrian Gonzalez:
“They’re going to have a $40 million payroll for the foreseeable future, and there’s just no way they can devote half of that to one player.
It’s just a matter of when they decide to trade him.”
Towers, I presume, was party to enough substantive conversations before his dismissal that such comments are more than mere speculation. Adrian Gonzalez, by the way, is only making $4.75 million next year and $5.5 million in 2011. As such, he should bring the mother lode in any trade.
Given that the Padres’ new GM Jed Hoyer just left Boston, given he is intimately familiar with their system and given that the Red Sox desperately need a corner bat like Gonzalez’, one would think that the Red Sox would make the best trading partner. Only problem: The Red Sox don’t have much in the way of MLB-ready level talent to burn.
That may be fine for the Padres considering Hoyer is apparently being told to keep payroll way, way down, but trading their best player for a bunch of talent that doesn’t project until 2012 or later may cause what’s left of the team’s fan base to revolt.
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.