Despite his best efforts, Carlos Quentin couldn’t stop the Padres from getting swept by the lowly Cubs, who entered the series losers of 12 in a row.
Quentin, though, did put on a show at Wrigley Field, collecting three homers and four doubles in his first three games back from the disabled list. Two of those homers came Wednesday off the formerly untouchable Ryan Dempster. Right-handed hitters were hitting .197/.234/.234 with one homer in 117 at-bats going into the game.
So the Padres are now 17-35, having lost six games in a row. They’re 16 1/2 games back in the NL West (no other team in baseball is more than 12 1/2 games out of first place). It’s already time to start thinking about selling, and Quentin, a poor defensive outfielder who probably isn’t a long-term piece in Petco Park, would seem to be an obvious candidate to go in a trade this summer. Some could use him more than others, but just about every AL contender aside from the Angels could find a way to fit his bat in somehow. He’d also seem to be precisely the right-handed bat the Reds need in the cleanup spot. It’d be for the best if he doesn’t get too comfortable in San Diego.
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.