Stories all over the place in recent days about Adam Dunn wanting to stay in D.C. Dunn is certainly saying the right things:
This is the place I want to be at. I want to be here. This team is
obviously going in the right direction. I’m all for it. That’s why I
don’t want to deter anybody away. I like being here.
But Buster reported a few minutes ago that there are no talks happening between Dunn and the Nats at all. Which, given (a) Dunn’s enthusiasm; and (b) the fact that it’s usually the team, and not the player, who has no problem negotiating once the season begins, one would assume the Nats are giving Dunn the high hat. Maybe they don’t like the fact that he ends his sentences with prepositions.
Seriously, though, I’d have a hard time getting my brain around a Dunn extension if I was a National League general manager. I love his bat, obviously, but you have to figure the Nats want to make sure he can play at first base all year before unloading the money truck. I mean, he’s played a lot there, sure, but this is supposedly the first year he has really committed to it.
So, yeah, big year for Dunn.
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.