Let’s stop beefing about the fact that Melky Cabrera got a contract

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I’ve seen a dozen of these sorts of sentiments from baseball writers since Melky Cabrera signed with the Blue Jays last week:

Melky Cabrera was rewarded with a two-year, $16-million free agent contract by the Toronto Blue Jays. Cabrera’s deal came less than two weeks after the Oakland Athletics gave pitcher Bartolo Colon a pay raise and a one-year contract that could be worth, with incentives, $6 million. Steroids win again, in other words.

I railed against this last week, but let’s put it in simpler terms:  if you are upset that Melky Cabrera got a contract to play baseball, you must necessarily believe that PED users should get lifetime bans, yes? If you’re not willing to make the latter argument, you are being intellectually dishonest if you make the former. The guy has served his time, has been penalized significantly in terms of dollars and shame, and has a right to continue his career, does he not? If not, make your case for him being banned for life or shut the hell up (I know many of you in the comments section and many casual fans will do so, but I direct this specifically at baseball writers who, unless they are trying to traffic in some easy outrage like this, never independently make the case that PED users should be banned for life and never seriously would).

Even if you discount Melky Cabrera’s past two seasons as 100% fraudulent and without an ounce of actual baseball talent underlying them — which is itself silly given what we know about how PEDs work — an eight million dollar a year deal for a normal 27 year-old outfielder who has played in nearly 1000 games and can play some center is not by any stretch of the imagination a “reward” compared to what other players like him get paid. Coco Crisp is going to make just a bit less than that over the next two years and he’s five years older than Melky. Coco Crisp is a nice player, but it’s not like he’s making crazy elite superstar bucks.

Heck, even if you pretended that 2011 and 2012 didn’t exist at all, I’d then ask you to go back to 2010 and value a 21-25 year-old center fielder who is able to stick in the lineup of two winning teams and show some occasional power. Not a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but someone who has shown some flashes of quality mixed in with his erratic play and who, by most accounts, just needs to dedicate himself more in order to become a useful, everyday player.

What does that guy make when he hits the free agent market? I submit that it’s much closer to $8 million a year than $8 million a year is to whatever Cabrera would have made this winter if he had not been busted for PEDs.

But please, go ahead and continue arguing that Cabrera got away with something and that “steroids have won again.”

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.