The Braves are looking at outfielders

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Based on today’s report from MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, it’s pretty clear that the Braves are going to make one more move before the trade deadline, in all likelihood for an outfielder:

When McLouth was sidelined on June 9 with a concussion, he was hitting
just .176 with a .295 on-base percentage. In the seven rehab games he
played for Triple-A Gwinnett, the former All-Star outfielder recorded
eight hits (seven singles and one homer) in 31 at-bats.

“I think we have to be open,” Wren said. “We still have to be in that
mode of evaluating and seeing what opportunities there are. At the same
time, we need to figure out what’s the biggest thing we need.

“I just don’t know yet. That’s not being evasive. I just think we need
to let this play out a little bit.”

As Wren narrows his focus on the trade market, he and his scouts are
evaluating players who could improve his club while playing either left
field or center field. Some of the players they have evaluated include
Kansas City’s David DeJesus, Florida’s Cody Ross, Milwaukee’s Corey Hart
and Washington’s Josh Willingham.

I can’t recall a contending team with an outfield as poor as Atlanta’s is right now, and that’s even if Nate McClouth comes back with some improvement over his pre-concussion performance.  And as long the names Frank Wren is considering are limited to the likes of DeJesus, Ross, Hart and Willingham — and don’t include names like “Jose Guillen” — Atlanta has a good chance of upgrading the outfield at some point in the next few days.

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.