Yankees farmhand Manny Banuelos was ranked by Baseball America as the 29th prospect in all of baseball last winter. This year, however, he was limited to six starts and was shut down in early August due to an elbow injury. While the Yankees had hoped that the shutdown would fix all that ailed him, Brian Cashman just announced that Banuelos will have Tommy John surgery on Thursday.
That’ll put him in dry dock until 2014. Which, combined with the almost nothing he did this year means that he’s lost almost two full seasons. It’s probably worth asking someone with the Yankees why the problem wasn’t seen and the surgery wasn’t done earlier in an effort to limit the development time he’ll now lose.
Either way, it was hoped that Banuelos would be a key part of Yankees new relatively austere future. Hal Steinbrenner is on record as saying that he wants the team’s payroll under $189 million soon to avoid luxury tax charges. The only real way to make that happen, it seems, is for the pitching staff to be mostly young and cheap. That could still happen, but Banuelos won’t be part of that for some time.
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.