It looks like Chone Figgins is about to start spending a lot more time on the bench.
The Mariners announced after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Mariners that they’re promoting 2009 third-round pick Kyle Seager to the majors. The University of North Carolina product had been on an absolute tear in his two weeks in Triple-A, hitting .455/.500/.673 in 55 at-bats.
Before that, Seager hit .312/.381/.459 in Double-A to begin the season. He came in at .345/.419/.503 last year, but that was at High Desert in the California League, one of the five best offensive environments in the minors. As a result, Seager wasn’t taken very seriously as a top prospect entering the season. He’s earned his chance by keeping it going at higher levels, though.
Seager was primarily a second baseman in the minors, and the Mariners left him there in Double-A this year even though they had their No. 1 propsect, Dustin Ackley, ready to take over at that position in the majors. Recently, Seager had been playing a lot more third base, and he figures to see most of his starts there in the majors. It’s possible he may yet end up at second base if the Mariners decide Ackley would be better off in the outfield.
Figgins becomes the odd man out. He’s hitting just .183/.231/.244 in the second year of a four-year, $36 million contract. The Mariners only hope of moving him is to take another bad contract in return, and those kinds of deals are usually easier to pull off over the winter than during the season.
Getting dropped to make room for Seager on the roster was catcher Jose Yepez.
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.