The Marlins-Blue Jays trade occurred on the eve of the latest Owners Meeting. Which led to some awesome junior high school cafeteria stuff. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports:
Loria, according to one industry source, sat alone in the lunch room, not conversing with his fellow owners. Teams from the American League East were unhappy that the Blue Jays improved dramatically, clubs from the National League Central and West were displeased that the four other NL East members would be able to feast on the carcass posing as the Marlins and there was a general sense of embarrassment over the Marlins cutting bait just one year after opening a new ballpark built overwhelmingly with public monies.
And if you’re the Tampa Bay Rays or Oakland Athletics, more than a sense of embarrassment. For them — and any other sports owner who may want to get a new stadium in the foreseeable future — there should be anger.
Loria, both with the way the stadium deal went down in Miami, and now with this cynical, soul-killing trade, has given anti-ballpark advocates a ton of ammunition. He has likewise rendered the old “we need a ballpark to be competitive, just wait until we have one!” pitch of team owners even more obviously hollow than it ever was. Which is great if, like me, you oppose public stadium projects, but really has to tick off those who want one of their own.
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.