The Astros didn't tell any other teams that they'd kick in $11 million on Oswalt

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The general consensus immediately after the Oswalt deal was announced yesterday was that the Astros got hosed.  Then, after some time, more and more voices spoke up saying, “hey, don’t you think that if there was a better deal out there the Astros would have taken it?”

Well, maybe not, because Joel Sherman reports that the Astros may not have known if there was a better deal out there:

Executives from multiple teams complained they had no idea the Astros
were willing to include $11 million of the $23.5 million owed Oswalt
through next year and his 2012 option as they did to move him to the
Phillies . . .

 . . . an executive of a team interested in starting pitching said, “I don’t
know how we didn’t know [what Houston was willing to pay]. I don’t know
how it is in the best interest of your organization not to explore every
avenue. We knew the pitcher [Oswalt] was available, but we didn’t know
it was a financial giveaway.”

Sherman notes that while the Yankees and Mets were unaware of the money, it’s possible that Houston wouldn’t have offered to send money to those teams anyway, which is a good point. But Sherman implies that the last quote came from a different team altogether that may very well have been in on Oswalt if they knew that it was a good deal financially speaking.

When we call a trade dumb, we risk making faulty assumptions about the market. But we do the same thing when we assume that general managers run out every potential ground ball when going to make a deal.

On this one it sounds like Ed Wade locked in on the Phillies and very well might have bypassed other, better deals.

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.