Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York says that the Yankees expect to get Andy Pettitte’s decision this week.
Most reports before now have had Pettitte leaning toward retirement. It’s hard to know how much of that is true and how much of that is an attempt at extracting more money out of the Yankees. I don’t know that anyone’s sourcing on Pettitte’s mindset is all that good. Most people seem to agree that any report that comes from “a friend of Andy Pettitte’s” is repeating what Lance Berkman said. Given that Berkman thinks he’s a right fielder now, I guess you gotta consider the source. I know someone who knows Pettitte — not Berkman — and got some intelligence from them a few weeks ago, but it came with a “you never know what Andy’s thinking” caveat which rendered that info pretty weak sauce. We’re all flying blind here.
I’m guessing that if Pettitte retires there will be a general freakout among Yankees fans. I’m guessing that if he comes back there will be a sorta ugly public contract negotiation a la Derek Jeter’s. Either way, the Pettitte story won’t end with his decision.
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.