Dodgers decline options on Casey Blake, Jon Garland

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The Dodgers moved quickly to erase some of their bad 2011 memories Tuesday, declining options on Casey Blake and Jon Garland and outrighting Eugenio Velez to Triple-A.

Blake’s option was worth $6 million, while Garland would have made $8 million.

Blake played in just 63 games in the final season of a three-year, $17.5 million deal and hit .252/.342/.371 with four homers and 26 RBI in 202 at-bats. His future in baseball is in doubt after neck surgery, and at age 38, he may not be able to land a starting job even if he recovers well.

Garland, who had made 32 starts in nine straight seasons, was limited to nine starts this year by a shoulder injury that required surgery in July. He was just 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA before going down, and his status for the beginning of next season is also in question.

Velez made history this year thanks a 46-AB hitless streak that is still ongoing. He’ll join Blake and Garland in free agency and likely catch on with another club on a minor league deal.

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.