Joel Sherman reports that that new Mets GM Sandy Alderson wants to bring Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi on board. Both of these guys, you’ll recall, worked under Alderson in Oakland before going off on their own GM frolics. Depodesta’s was, in hindsight anyway, pretty successful with the Dodgers, even if they still don’t realize it. Ricciardi’s in Toronto, not so much, but not terrible either. Whatever you thought of them as top dogs, though, both are smart baseball guys and rarely do you go wrong by assembling a team full of smart people.
Sherman also says that Alderson is likely to go with an Oakland A’s-style manager: low key, low profile, and totally subservient to the front office. This would seem to eliminate Wally Backman from consideration. That won’t make a lot of Mets fans happy — the fascination with Backman seems to be taking on epic proportions — but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring him in as a third base coach or something. Whatever happens, I have this feeling that Alderson will navigate that PR minefield just fine.
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.