Another day dawns in Nashville, and with it comes another day of anticipation of one of the two biggies on the free agent market — Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke — to sign someplace. As of now the highest-ranked name from our Free Agent Tracker that has signed during the Winter Meetings is Dan Haren at number 14. Not exactly excitement central here this year, unless you count people’s exasperation at Shane Victorino somehow getting $13 million a year from the Red Sox “excitement.”
As for official events here, the schedule is light today as well. There’s the Winter Meetings Gala tonight. It’s a no-media-invited event that, normally, takes place in a hotel ballroom and. From outside in the hallway in years past it looks like a wedding reception or something. This year they’re having it at the Dave and Buster’s in the mall next door to the hotel. Wish I could be part of that, because I’d love to see league officials playing whack-a-mole and stuff.
The unofficial slate resumes as well. Last night I had dinner with some baseball writers at a pretty fantastic burger and beer joint. When people weren’t eating burgers with bacon and eggs on them — yeah, I got one of those — they were checking their phones and noting just how little continues to happen on the signing and trade front. It ended as a very early night for me — I was in bed by 11 because, man, you just gotta pace yourself here — and when I woke up a little while ago I noted that, for the most part, nothing continued to happen overnight.
Maybe today. As always, we’ll have it for you if it does.
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.