The Rockies are cornering the market on lousy pitchers. After the weekend’s signings of Miguel Batista and Chris Volstad, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that they aren’t through yet:
Even with Volstad in the fold, the Rockies are aggressively pursuing free agents Carl Pavano, a right-hander they have tried to acquire numerous times over the last few seasons, and Derek Lowe, a sinkerballer who has pitched well at Coors Field. The Rockies would like to finalize a deal with another veteran this week.
A lot of people have had aggressive feelings with respect to Pavano and Lowe over the past couple of seasons, but it’s mostly been the “God, I want to kill that guy” kind of aggression, and it has been on part of the fan base of the teams for which they’ve played. This whole thing in which a general manager wants them badly for his team is rather new.
Anyway, this news comes, Renck notes, after the Rockies failed to sign Kevin Correia, Kyle McClellan and Aaron Cook. I guess if you throw enough mediocre-at-best arms against the wall, some of it is gonna stick.
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.