UPDATE: It’s not Zambrano, according to Feinsand. The Cubs haven’t asked him to waive his no-trade clause as of this evening, which would seem to be a precursor to any serious talks. I’m starting to get more enamored of the Javy Vazquez stuff. For one thing, the Braves are about the only other team in a position to trade starting pitching. For the reasons we’ve said, Lowe makes little sense. The only thing that doesn’t make sense re: Vazquez from the Yankees’ perspective is that he was there once and didn’t pitch all that great. But haven’t the Bombers given up such provincial thinking? He’s a lot better now than he used to be.
11:14 P.M: No news, but let’s speculate. That “this is not a salary dump” stuff could be interpreted loosely, right? I mean, Derek Lowe is owed $45 million, but Nick Swisher is owed $16.75 million on his deal. Braves kick in a little money and maybe we’re out of salary dump land? OK, yeah, that’s dumb and I still see no reason the Yankees would want Derek Lowe. Chalk it up to boredom and wishful thinking. New guess: Javy Vazquez’s triumphant return to Gotham . . .
10:24 P.M.: Mark Feinsand doesn’t know who it is, but he says that it’s not a salary dump deal, so there goes my Derek Lowe-for-Nick Swisher fantasies. Zambrano? That’s my guess for now. Zambrano. Guesses will change every seven minutes until I run out of pitchers.
9:52 P.M.: Rosenthal is on it too, though he says it’s not Aaron Harang.
8:46 P.M.: Buster Olney tweets “Heard this:
Yankees working very hard tonight on deal for starting pitcher.
Remember that they came close to deal for Aaron Harang in summer.”
Not sure why he’d mention Harang if the deal they’re working on wasn’t for Harang.
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.