Shocker: the Royals and Jeff Francoeur are close to a deal

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I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur at the paddock before the second race. I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur outside the men’s room before I placed my bet.  I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur before they got up this morning.

Now Ken Rosenthal reports that it’s close to going down. A one-year deal. Possible option for 2012. There are things that are more inevitable than this was, but they are only measured on a geologic time frame.

And unless it’s crazy money — which I doubt it will be — it’s not going to kill anyone. Jeff Francoeur will not be the difference between the Royals winning and not winning the AL Central in 2011, even if he gets 600 at bats (note: I don’t use plate appearances for Francoeur because including a metric that covers walks is pretty pointless with Jeffy). He’s a decent-defending body in right field, hopefully on a platoon basis, but if he’s not going to be there every day, it’s no biggie. At least not on this team.

He’ll just be there long enough, I presume, for there to be a whole new round of “Jeff Francoeur is focusing on working the count” articles this spring, as there are every spring.  He’ll be there just long enough for people to realize that that one lucky first-pitch homer he hit the first week of the season is not indicative of his talents.  He’ll be there long enough for him to depress Royals fans who want him to be their Great White Hope, and to cause Ned Yost to bench or platoon him.  He’ll be there long enough for either him or his agent to complain in the press about him being an everyday player and wanting a trade because that’s what they do every year.

And then, in July or August, he’ll get traded to the Giants.

Enjoy Kansas City, Jeffy. Lots of good food there.

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.