Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with Brewers GM Doug Melvin and, while Melvin said that he “might” meet with Scott Boras this week at the GM/owners meetings in Milwaukee, there is zero chance that the Brewers will make Fielder an offer.
Haudricourt breaks it down pretty simply: the Brewers have extended Ryan Braun and Yovanni Gallardo and have taken on Zack Greinke and other contracts. By the time the roster is filled out without Fielder, the payroll is going to be something close to where it was in 2011 or a bit more. The Brewers draw great crowds, but there are practical limits there.
Mat Gamel will not be Prince Fielder. Not by damn sight. He’s had 194 major league plate appearances sprinkled over four seasons and hasn’t produced at all. But he hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers in Nashville last year. He’s going to turn 27 next summer and it was his fourth time around the PCL — NOTE: I love that Nashville is in the Pacific Coast League — but there’s nothing for him to prove on the farm anymore. It’s put up or go away time for him and the Brewers know that.
As for Fielder, his time in Milwaukee is over. The Rangers have already said they’re out. The Dodgers have been ruled out by either Major League Baseball, Frank McCourt, the bankruptcy court or some combination of them all. Everyone suspects that the Cubs will show interest, and the Marlins are giving off the vibe that they’ll do anything. Seattle badly needs some power. Maybe the Nationals will do something crazy again. But there aren’t a ton of other teams that have both a hole at first base and a possible desire to spend money.
So, like, we’ll see.
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.