OK, maybe the Cubs are jerking Andre Dawson around

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1:24 P.M.:  OK, I sort of laid off the Cubs on this earlier today because the story below seemed to be more a failure of reporting than of the Cubs decision on the matter (i.e. it seemed entirely possible that the Cubs had every intention of retiring Dawson’s number regardless of what cap he wore)  but now ESPN is reporting that the Cubs really are going to wait and see what cap he wears before deciding if they’re going to retire his number.

Let me refine the point I made this morning, this time directed at the Cubs:  someone please tell me why the Cubs would retire Greg Maddux’s number despite the fact that he’ll wear a Braves cap into Cooperstown while they now apparently won’t retire Dawson’s if he wears an Expos cap.

Maddux won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and pitched in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Andre Dawson won one major postseason award in a Cubs uniform and played in a single playoff series for the Cubs.  Maddux had three more seasons with the Cubs than Dawson did, but of Maddux’s nine years in a Cubs’ uniform one was a late season callup, one full season was a far below average (ERA+ of 76 in 1987), and two were average, end of career years.  All of Dawson’s six years were above average years.

I see no reason for the differential treatment here, and I would like someone with the Cubs or familiar with their thinking to explain it to me.

11:00 AM: Chicago Breaking Sports News reports that “[Andre] Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub.”  They go on to note that there’s “No word on whether the Cubs would follow through with retiring his number if Dawson is inducted as an Expo.” Query: Does the reporter here really need official word from the Cubs on that last point? They retired Greg Maddux’s number last year, and he’s almost
certain to go into the Hall as a Brave, so they’ll almost certainly do
it for Dawson. 

But even if that’s not a given, the cap some committee of anonymous whoevers decides should appear on Dawson’s plaque can’t be the determining factor for the Cubs, can it? I mean, if they stand willing to retire his jersey anyway, they’re going to retire it regardless, right? I mean, what possible difference would it make to the Cubs?  It’s not like they can’t still sell 40,000 “Andre Dawson: Hall of Famer” seat cushions or foam fingers or whatever on “Andre Dawson Day” anyway, and that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m generally unimpressed with the practice of retiring numbers in the first instance.

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.