Why did the Red Sox dump Marco Scutaro and his salary?

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I’m among the people confused by Boston’s move to dump Marco Scutaro and his $6 million salary on the Rockies for a marginal minor leaguer in Clayton Mortensen, in part because Scutaro was hardly overpaid and in part because the Red Sox’s in-house options to replace him at shortstop are so underwhelming.

It still doesn’t make much sense to me, but Alex Speier of WEEI.com offers a few details that explain the situation somewhat.

For instance, Speier notes that because of the wording of Scutaro’s contract the Red Sox would have taken a sizable luxury tax hit if they’d simply declined his 2012 option, so instead they exercised the option and then dumped him on the Rockies (who have no such luxury tax concerns).

There’s been plenty of speculation that the Red Sox shed Scutaro’s salary in order to make a run at Roy Oswalt and in the meantime they sliced nearly $8 million in money as it’s counted against the luxury tax. Speier reports that the Rockies were the only team willing to take on Scutaro’s entire salary.

As for why they’d trade Scutaro without having a good shortstop replacement waiting in the wings–particularly after parting with Jed Lowrie earlier this offseason–Speier points to the fact that he’s 36 years old, somewhat injury prone, and perhaps declining defensively. And for now at least the Red Sox feel more comfortable than you might expect with a time share between Mike Aviles and Nick Punto.

Whether or not all that adds up to the Scutaro salary dump being a smart move by the Red Sox is another issue–I’d still vote no, certainly–but at least it makes a little more sense than it did at the time.

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.