It’s understandable that Manny Ramirez is going to be out of the picture for a while. But would you believe Yoenis Cespedes could be shuffled off to the minors too?
I don’t believe it, but Billy Beane is at least making noises that Cespedes will not simply be given a job:
Beane would not guarantee Cespedes will be in the lineup March 28 when the A’s open the regular season against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo. “Whether we think he’ll be ready to handle it the first game of the year or the 10th game, we just don’t know,” Beane said. “I think we’ll just have a feel. If we think he can handle it up here, we’ll make that decision.”
Obviously Beane has not read Cespedes’ glowing press clippings. Or maybe he’s just not as impressed at someone smacking a Jeff Francis “fastball” over the fence as I am. But you know me: I’m always an optimist.
I’m guessing he starts Opening Day, however. He’s going to be a draw. And, even if he’s not quite the hitter he showed in a single outing against some average pitching on a random March afternoon, he’s much more of a power threat than whoever would take his place in the A’s lineup, right?
One other thing: Every article I’ve seen spells his name “Yoenis.” His locker in the A’s clubhouse in Phoenix, however, has the nameplate “Yoenys Cespedes” over it. Anyone care to advise?
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.