Towles likely to get nod behind plate for 'Stros

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That’s the part I agree with.
I’m not sure about the rest of Alyson Footer’s MLBlog entry, in which she looks at the battle between J.R. Towles and top prospect Jason Castro for the catching job in Houston. Footer thinks Towles will be the starter, Humberto Quintero the backup and that Castro will get some Triple-A seasoning after finishing last year in Double-A.
And that’s the way it’s likely to shake out. But Footer’s arguments are pretty weak.

The raw numbers suggest they can’t go wrong with either. Towles has played in nine games and has 12 hits in 27 at-bats for a .444 average. In 10 games, Castro has a .391 average, logging nine hits in 23 at-bats.

Yeah, let’s look at batting averages over the course of 27 at-bats and 23 at-bats in making a judgment. For the record, that’s 50 at-bats between them. In that time, they’ve combined for no homers, four RBI and three walks.

Another issue is roster space. Should he make the team, Castro would first have to be added to the 40-man, which currently stands at 39. That could be problematic, considering the front-runner to win the fifth outfielder position is Cory Sullivan, who would also need to be added to the 40-man. The addition of both Castro and Sullivan would necessitate taking someone off the roster, but if it’s not a dire situation, why do it?

Have you looked at the Astros’ 40-man roster? Outfielder Yordany Ramirez might be the single least promising player on a major league roster today, and it’s incredible that he’s lasted two years now. There’s also a 28-year-old utilityman in Edwin Maysonet, who hasn’t been included in the team’s plans for this year, and a handful of expendable pitchers, with Yorman Bazardo likely topping the list.
Excluding the top 25, the Astros probably have the weakest 40-man roster in the game. The idea that you’d hold Castro back based on the one-percent chance that someone might claim Ramirez on waivers is simply absurd.
Footer, though, also does go into the real reason for the choice; Castro is a 22-year-old who has never set foot in Triple-A, while Towles is 26-year-old with nothing left to prove in the minors. Towles deserves one more chance to show what he can do as a starter. If it doesn’t work out, Castro will still be there on June 1.

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.