Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com spoke with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips about the NL Gold Glove award. Which Phillips has won for two straight seasons and for three of the past four. Mr. Phillips, Mooney asks, what say you about Darwin Barney’s errorless streak? Does he pose a threat to you?
“Honestly, I don’t even know,” Phillips said. “What, he has one or something? … Oh, really, that’s cool. That’s nice.Honestly, I’ve been too busy winning. You know what I’m saying? I’ve just been too busy winning. I worry about myself and I worry about this team. If they don’t play for the Reds, I don’t really worry about you, honestly, unless you’re like my homeboy or something like that.”
Which is the right attitude to have, I think. If you’re paying attention to your Gold Glove competition you’re basically Roger Dorn, right?
The more substantive stuff in the article comes when Phillips observes that he gets called for errors on balls that a lot of guys don’t get to. Which, generically speaking, is a real thing for good fielders. If Derek Jeter — just to use an example — doesn’t get within three feet to a ball to his left, it’s a single 100% of the time. If a good fielder gets to the ball but has it just bounce away from him, he’s penalized by his range and is charged with an error.
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.