UPDATE: John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse gathered quotes from veterans Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney on the firing. Here’s Griffey:
“Let’s not go there. I have no comment.”
“It’s brutal. There are a lot of guys in here who deserve to get fired before him.”
Sounds like the Mariners, or at least those two vets, are a little embarrassed about the way they’ve struggled this year, and how those struggles have now cost Cockrell his job.
2:35pm: The Mariners cut ties with hitting coach Alan Cockrell on Sunday morning, according to Jim Street of MLB.com.
The M’s have an American League-worst 617 OPS through 30 games this season and have scored fewer runs than 28 of baseball’s 30 teams. Oh, and they’ve also lost eight straight games. Most of that has nothing do with Cockrell, but someone had to be the scapegoat.
Cockrell started his major league coaching career with the Rockies in 2002 as a special instructor and was hired as their full-time hitting coach in November of 2006. He was named Seattle’s hitting coach in the winter of 2008, but now that’s all over. Alonzo Powell will be promoted from Triple-A to take over the post for the time being. We’ll see if he’s any better at willing hits out of millionaire baseball players.
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.