Cubs finally open the wallet to spend in Latin America

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Maybe Starlin Castro’s emergence has something to do with it, but after often sitting out the early-July spending spree in Latin America in recent years, the Cubs have invested in three significant prospects these last few days.

The most notable of the bunch is 16-year-old shortstop Enrique Acosta, who received $1.1 million to sign out of the Dominican Republic.  He’s expected to outgrow his current position, but he had one of the most promising bats of this summer’s class of 16-year-olds.

The Cubs also added two 16-year-olds out of Venezuela in catcher Mark Malave and third baseman Ricardo Marcano.

Castro’s emergence likely has opened some eyes and showed the Cubs brass that it’s worth buying a few lottery tickets.  Castro, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic without any fanfare in 2006, just made his first All-Star team as a 21-year-old.

For some quotes and more info on the prospects, check out David Kaplan’s article on CSNChicago.com.

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.