It was a year ago tomorrow that L.A. Times’ columnist T.J. Simers filed what was one of the worst, low-rent columns I’ve seen in a while. Ripping Marcus Thames for being exactly what he is: a platoon/bench outfielder who is not an All-Star.
It wasn’t some meta thing. He wasn’t making a larger point. He simply confronted Thames in the clubhouse and asked him where he got off not being Ryan Braun. Oh, and when Thames refused to take his bait and snap back at him, Simers ripped him for “being unable to talk about his shortcomings.” It was quite impressive, I tell you.
Well, apparently this is an annual thing for Simers, as today he has another installment of his “I show up, rip everyone in sight in the laziest way possible, put people on the spot with my hostile questions and offer no baseball insight whatsoever” column.
He’d like to tell you that the Dodgers are terrible. He provides no context for this. No discussion of where the Dodgers stand on the success cycle, what their actual strengths and weaknesses are or anything like that. He just says they suck and that Tommy Lasorda could do better. Oh, I take it back, he did offer one bit of “analysis”: Jamey Carroll was the team’s MVP in 2010, so why isn’t he back?
He then goes on to rip his own L.A. Times colleagues — by name — for, you know, reporting on the Dodgers. Because that’s not worth anyone’s time, see, so aren’t they a bunch of idiots. I’ll agree with the broader point: the Times is wasting their time and money on one of their writers. But here’s a hint: It’s not Dylan Hernandez, Kevin Baxter or Bill Shaikin.
Anyway, just one to bookmark the next time someone goes after the bloggers for wasting any access given them, needlessly ripping people, having no understanding of the game and lowering the level of the discourse.
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.