As expected, Jayson Werth has signed with Scott Boras. I think Werth was already shaping up to be one of the most interesting free agent choices in some time, but this adds to the intrigue.
His 2010 season was being talked about like it was a disappointment for much of the early part of the season, but you look up and you realize that he leads the Phillies in OPS, out-slugging Ryan Howard. He has started more games and has had more plate appearances than anyone on the team. The guy everyone thinks will make Werth expendable — Domonic Brown — is apparently not ready for prime time yet, batting .214/.242/.375 in limited play. And then Werth goes and pulls the hero act with that blast yesterday, causing my Twitter feed to fill up with a bunch of #resignJaysonWerth hash tags from Phillies people.
At the same time, Werth is 31 years-old and the Phillies ridiculously overpaid for Howard recently, putting their financial flexibility into some doubt. Boras isn’t known for having clients who sign hometown discounts, and that’s even before you remember that Werth’s hometown is in the Midwest, not Philly.
Ultimately I think he fits best with Philly and they probably need him the most. But as the season has gone on, the likelihood of that happening has gotten lower and lower, I’d say.
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.