Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow did a Q&A session with Astros fans Tuesday. While it was nice to see him reaching out to the community, he wasn’t exactly illuminating with most of his answers. Alyson Footer has the full transcript, which includes some of the following gems:
Q: What do the Astros have this year that they didn’t have in 2011?
Luhnow: We have added some new players into the mix. We have a clean slate from which to start. We have a few new coaches. We have young players who are one year more experienced. We have prospects that are one year closer. All good elements that should lead to us performing well above expectations.
Q: What will it take to get the 2012 Pennant?
JL: We have to have a winning mindset and attitude. We need to expect to win every series, and every game. If we work hard and smart and get some breaks along the way, we will be a competitive team.
Q: Last year we saw Altuve, Martinez, Paredes and Lyles (just to name a few) get called up and make big contributions. Are Cosart, Singleton, Foltynewicz, Springer or any other of our prospects ready to make that leap this season?
JL: I expect the guys who came up last year will be able to contribute more this year. There will be some new rookies this year, but only time will tell who they are. Those are all good names that you mention.
Fortunately, Luhnow did get a little more specific towards the end of the session, so it is worth a read if you happen to be interested in the Astros.
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.