Rangers considered heavy favorites to sign Roy Oswalt

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Roy Oswalt is reportedly close to choosing his new team and returning to the mound, and according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com the Rangers are heavy favorites to sign the 34-year-old right-hander.

In fact, an unnamed “baseball official” told Crasnick that he “would be shocked” if Oswalt doesn’t end up in Texas.

Along with the Rangers the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Orioles, and Red Sox have also been linked to Oswalt, who threw 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 93/33 K/BB ratio for Philadelphia last season.

Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list and expected to be out until after the All-Star break with a sprained elbow and it’s possible that the Rangers could shift him back to the bullpen once healthy, creating a rotation spot for Oswalt. For now Scott Feldman is filling in for Feliz, joining Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Derek Holland in the rotation.

Ted Lilly’s shoulder injury may have magnified the Dodgers’ interest in Oswalt after watching him throw last week and if the Phillies get bad news on Roy Halladay’s shoulder it’s easy to envision them giving Oswalt a call for a reunion. Depending on which sources you choose to believe Oswalt’s primary motivation is pitching close to his Mississippi home, playing for a contender, or cashing in for the biggest contract. Or maybe some combination of all three, which seemingly also gives Texas the edge.

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.