The Royals win the competitive balance lottery

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We haven’t talked about it much, but one of the nifty new features of the new collective bargaining agreement is something called the competitive balance lottery. What is the competitive balance lottery? Here’s MLB’s description:

The Competitive Balance Lottery … gives Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.  The 10 Clubs with the lowest revenues and the 10 Clubs in the smallest markets were entered into a lottery for the six selections immediately following the first round of the First-Year Player Draft.  The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, were entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the second round of the Draft.  A Club’s odds of winning the lottery were based on its prior season’s winning percentage.

And the results:

ROUND A

(Following First Round)

1)   Kansas City Royals

2)   Pittsburgh Pirates

3)   Arizona Diamondbacks

4)   Baltimore Orioles

5)   Cincinnati Reds

6)   Miami Marlins

ROUND B

(Following Second Round)

1)   San Diego Padres

2)   Cleveland Indians

3)   Colorado Rockies

4)   Oakland Athletics

5)   Milwaukee Brewers

6)   Detroit Tigers

These are where the old sandwich picks — the free agent compensation picks — used to be. So, huzzah for the Royals, but it’s not like these alter the balance of power or anything.

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.