Jonathan Papelbon has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies. Could David Ortiz be the next to leave Boston?
Don’t count on it. Based on what Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters (via WEEI.com) following a press conference for managerial candidate Torey Lovullo earlier today, there’s still plenty of optimism about re-signing him.
“We have had a lot of dialogue with David and his agents,” Cherington said. “Because of what I feel, and I think he feels, is a little bit more of a defined market for that role it’s been easier to engage sooner. It’s probably less likely to be a situation where he gets into the market and there’s something that he’s pushed into a corner on. David knows we want him to be here. We want him to be back with the Red Sox. We want him in our lineup. We’ve had a lot of dialogue to see if there’s a way to do that and I think that will continue.”
There was some silly stuff late last month about Ortiz potentially having National League suitors, but most sane people agree he will almost certainly continue his career as a designated hitter in the American League. And that severely limits the market for Ortiz, who turns 36 years old next week, by the way. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com wrote this morning that the Red Sox want to determine whether they can re-sign Ortiz before perhaps turning to Carlos Beltran or Michael Cuddyer, so we can probably expect a quick resolution here.
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.