Griffey returning for another season in Seattle

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Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle was a success in so much as Mariners fans seemed to enjoy having him back and the team made major strides following a horrible 2008, but his actual performance was awful.
Griffey showed that he still has plenty of power and patience with 19 homers and 63 walks in 454 plate appearances, but he batted just .214/.324/.411 for a career-worst .735 OPS and was almost exclusively limited to designated hitter duties.
When he started dropping hints about wanting to return for a 22nd season at the age of 40 it seemed obvious that the Mariners wouldn’t–or at least shouldn’t–be interested in a second go-around. While the reunion was nice in a rebuilding season, the team seemingly has bigger plans for 2010 that should involve an upgrade at DH.
All of which is why this report from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is surprising: Griffey and the Mariners have agreed to a one-year deal for 2010. Certainly getting sub par production from a part-time designated hitter is far from disastrous and won’t make or break the team in 2010, but it looks like nostalgia, loyalty, and perhaps some extra ticket sales will keep the Mariners from what would be a pretty easy upgrade.
Of course, that’s easier said than done with an incredibly popular future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but this isn’t exactly a Brett Favre and the Packers situation. Griffey has hit just .234/.340/.418 in 1,029 plate appearances spread over the past two seasons, is no longer capable of playing the outfield regularly, and the Mariners’ lineup needs all the help it can get after ranking dead last in scoring this year.

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.