Theo Epstein says the only possible thing he can say about those Cubs rumors

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If you’re Theo Epstein, there is absolutely no winning when it comes to answering questions about his job right now.

Sure, the Cubs would love to have him. Anyone would.  But Epstein is running the Red Sox right now so if he even hints that he’s interested in the job, it’s going to be a monstrous distraction.  Likewise, if he shuts the door with a slam, saying unequivocally that he does not want has never wanted and will never want to be the Cubs GM and that anyone who suggests otherwise can take a flying eff at a rolling donut, then he’s just being rude. And, of course, if he really would like the job, he’s hurting himself.

So it’s really a timing problem. Because he’s Theo Epstein and because Theo Epstein rarely if ever says anything that fans flames, any question on the subject of the Cubs’ job now is going to lead to a non-answer which strongly suggests that he’s a Red Sox for life without actually saying that and leaving the hint of a possibility open that he could bolt if need be.  And he was asked that yesterday. And he gave exactly that sort of answer:

“I try to avoid commenting on things that are so speculative. I know there are a couple of articles which have appeared but I’m completely focused on the Red Sox of 2011 first and foremost and what potentially lies ahead for this club. We’re trying to get to the postseason and win the World Series and I spend all my time working with my staff to make this the organization we want it to be for now and in the future. That’s where my exclusive focus is.”

And of course the reporters kept asking, so he said “Something like that I can’t even contemplate it long enough to comment on it. I’m all Red Sox, all the time.”

So one takeaway from that could be “THEO DOESN’T DENY INTEREST IN CUBS JOB!” which I bet gets played up on talk radio today if it hasn’t already.

Another, more reasonable take would be to say “there’s really nothing to be gained by getting quotes from Theo Epstein on this subject before the Sox’ season is over.”

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.