SI’s Jon Heyman listened to Scott Boras hold court up at the GM meetings in Chicago, and reports that (a) Boras thinks that Damon should get a four-year deal; (b) Damon doesn’t want less than his current $13 million; (c) the Yankees are saying that they are “absolutely not” going to offer him four years — more like 2; (d) the Yankees offer would be at $10 million per; and (e) the Giants have some interest in Damon.
Setting aside for a moment the fact that Heyman’s report reads more like a press release for Johnny Damon as opposed to a news story (Jon: the reason Damon leads many other players in stats measured “over the past 12 seasons” is because he’s old!) let’s parse this:
Just because the Yankees have more money than God doesn’t mean that they’re going to throw it away stupidly. Indeed, in the past few years we’ve seen the Yankees move from a model of spending outrageous amounts of money stupidly to spending outrageous amounts of money wisely. If you’re the Yankees, in an offseason where almost every other team is looking to slash payroll, and there are at least three all-star caliber left fielders around, why on earth would you give the oldest one $52 million over four years? If I’m Brain Cashman I call the bluff on Damon, wish him well in that big outfield in San Francisco and focus my attention on Matt Holliday.
Which, come to think of it, may be Boras’ hope anyway. If the Yankees are eliminated as a Damon suitor — and a hard demand for a four year deal for the guy should eliminate them — it opens up the market for Holliday, also a Boras client, considerably.
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.