You know who is going to be a big free agent player? The Los Angeles Angels are going to be a big free agent player. Why? Because they don’t care if they lose money or not. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles:
According to a baseball source, the Angels expect to lose about $10
million this season. So will Moreno go deeper into his pocket to get
[Carl] Crawford? Or will the Angels try to shed payroll to accommodate that
Well, just about every team in baseball that’s losing money (or that at least says it’s losing money) would say it’s time for austerity. Not the Angels. Here, quoted by Saxon, is Angels GM Tony Reagins:
“You always have to take account of how the finances work, but we’re not
limited financially in any way. Whatever we need to do that makes sense
and that’s reasonable, we’ll address.”
I’m reminded of my man Charlie Kane when told that he was losing a million dollars a year in late 19th century money:
“You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a
million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next
year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year,
I’ll have to close this place in . . . 60 years.
That’s pretty much Arte Moreno’s m.o., it would seem. No, not fomenting wars with Cuba and forcing his wife to do jigsaw puzzles in front of a comically over-sized fireplace, but in keeping year-to-year losses in perspective while realizing that overall value is where it’s at.
I don’t know how much the Angels are really losing, but let’s say it’s $10 million. Given Moreno’s investments in marketing and the ballpark and the payroll and everything else, how much more are the Angels worth today than when he bought the team a few years ago? I’m betting quite a bit. Certainly enough to absorb a $10 million loss. And certainly enough to afford Carl Crawford.
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.