Detroit has released outfielder Brennan Boesch, who averaged 127 games and 496 plate appearances per season for the Tigers during the past three years.
Back in January the Tigers and Boesch avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.3 million deal, but by releasing him now Detroit is only on the book for one-sixth of that salary. So he gets $383,000 and hits the open market as a 28-year-old free agent and the Tigers save $1.9 million on a player who fell out of their plans by hitting just .240 with 12 homers and a .659 OPS in 132 games last season.
Boesch was a quality regular in 2011, but his 2010 and 2012 production suggest he’s better suited as a part-time corner outfielder. He should have no trouble landing another big-league roster spot, but may have to fight for playing time. Meanwhile, the Tigers are going with another left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks, as their primary left fielder.
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.