What they’re saying about the Vernon Wells trade

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If you woke up this morning confused and disoriented, you aren’t alone. Angels general manager Tony Reagins has felt that way all winter long.

The Angels and Blue Jays announced a blockbuster trade last night that sends Vernon Wells to Los Angeles for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. It’s an absolutely stunning deal that frees the Blue Jays of one of the most obscene contracts in the game.

Let’s take a quick spin around the interwebs to assess the fallout of this mega-deal, starting with the two general managers:

* Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos (as quoted by MLB.com): “The biggest component, I think it goes without saying, was the financial implications. Beyond 2011, the financial flexibility it gives our organization in 2012 and beyond, with where we’re going and as we build this organization, made a lot of sense for us.”

*Angels general manager Tony Reagins (as quoted by MLB.com): “We look at Vernon’s commitment as a four-year commitment that was tolerable for us.”

* Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles: “The most stunning aspect of Friday’s trade was that the Angels got no cash back from Toronto to help pay for what was considered one of the worst contracts in the sport. In the Kazmir trade in August 2009, the Angels got nothing back from Tampa Bay. They’ll owe the left-hander $25.5 million over the next two seasons and he’s coming off a season in which he had a 5.94 ERA.”

* Dustin Parkes of Getting Blanked: “Alex Anthopoulos is probably very busy right now writing thank you cards to Carl Crawford for signing with the Boston Red Sox and Adrian Beltre for signing with the Texas Rangers and Angels fans for putting so much pressure on Tony Reagins to make a move this offseason.”

* David Golebiewski of FanGraphs: “Even if you think Wells will perform considerably better through his age 32-35 seasons that he did in his late twenties and early thirties, and that inflation will be more than five percent per year, it’s near impossible to envision a scenario in which he’s worth his contract. It’s like the Angels paid for a mansion on the beach and got a one-bedroom ranch house in the Rust Belt instead.”

* Lyle Spencer of MLB.com: “Here’s what I like about the Angels’ big deal with Toronto: everything.”

* Cliff Corcoran of SI.com: “If the Angels use Wells and Torii Hunter in the outfield corners with Bobby Abreu as their designated hitter and rookie Peter Bourjos in center, they’ll have an outstanding defensive outfield to play behind a solid starting rotation, but a problematic lineup that will depend heavily on Morales’ successful return and those three former All-Stars whose best days are behind them.”

* Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register:” It is a heavy price and a contract that the Angels won’t be able to move easily when Wells declines. But it makes them more legitimate contenders in the A.L. West than they were Thursday.”

* Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star: “The decision to dump Wells points towards a long-term deal for Bautista, now that Wells’ Delgado-like albatross of a deal is gone from the scene.”

* Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com: “Most teams try to get younger, cheaper and better. The Angels got older, more expensive and possibly worse.”

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.