NL All-Star balloting update: Melky in, Braun out

21 Comments

Just like in Monday’s AL balloting update, one spot in the National League projected All-Star lineup changed hands this week. Melky Cabrera moved ahead of Ryan Braun into third place in the outfield.

Cabrera is deserving based on his performance this season, but one can’t help but notice that Giants fans have been awfully generous in voting for their favorites to date. Angel Pagan ranks ahead of Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield, Brandon Belt is fourth at first base and even Brandon Crawford is fifth at shortstop.

CATCHER
Buster Posey, Giants: 2,445,005
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 2,291,567
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 1,756,018

FIRST BASE
Joey Votto, Reds: 3,151,032
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 1,193,455
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 1,159,418

SECOND BASE
Dan Uggla, Braves: 2,054,920
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 1,272,389
Jose Altuve, Astros: 1,074,993

THIRD BASE
David Wright, Mets: 1,977,388
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 1,612,497
Chipper Jones, Braves: 1,547,221

SHORTSTOP
Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: 1,741,360
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 1,647,235
Starlin Castro, Cubs: 1,006,333

OUTFIELD
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 3,322,009
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals: 2,652,980
Melky Cabrera, Giants: 2,144,107
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 2,118,925
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 1,517,218
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 1,374,004
Hunter Pence, Phillies: 1,234,428
Michael Bourn, Braves: 1,201,215
Angel Pagan, Giants: 1,158,500

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
10 Comments

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.