Angels confident in working out long-term deal with Aybar

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Angels GM Jerry Dipoto acknowledged Saturday to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez that it’s unlikely Erick Aybar’s contract will be extended before the start of the 2012 regular season, but at the same time expressed confidence that something will get done eventually:

“We’ve had multiple talks with Erick and his people,” said Dipoto. “They’re aware of our designs. We want to keep Erick here for the long term. I like to believe it’s a formality that we signed Erick to a one-year deal and we can work toward an extension. We’re working through that, but I won’t really discuss the details, because I don’t think that’s advantageous to anybody.”

Aybar inked a one-year, $5.075 million contract in mid-January, avoiding arbitration. The 28-year-old shortstop is currently scheduled to become a free agent five days after the end of the 2012 World Series.

The Angels signed second baseman Howie Kendrick to a four-year, $33.5 million extension in early January.

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.