Over the weekend agent Darek Braunecker made headlines and drew criticism for saying he “wouldn’t anticipate” Cliff Lee re-signing with the Mariners, with my main beef being that there’s just no need to say stuff like that six months from free agency and immediately after Lee’s first start.
Lee apparently agreed, because he quickly tried to downplay the quotes, and now Braunecker has done his best to backtrack:
I can tell you this much, based on Cliff Lee’s initial impression of the Seattle Mariners organization, the city of Seattle, the club overall … Cliff is as excited as he can be about being there. What his future holds is anybody’s guess. We don’t know. We haven’t had any substantive conversations with the organization. …
You never anticipate a deal with any club. The bottom line is we can’t anticipate any moves. But if the question is, do we anticipate Cliff not having an interest in being in Seattle long term, that would be the furthest thing from the truth. I can tell you, unequivocally, that he’s enjoyed everything about it, as we anticipated.
Without question, Cliff Lee’s primary criteria moving forward is how long and how sustainable is the high level of success for that club. That’s what Cliff Lee is looking at with this club and in hopes of being able to participate in a postseason with the Seattle Mariners. What happens from there is anybody’s guess at this juncture.
As a wise man once said: “Take it easy, Champ. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.”
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.