J.P. Arencibia calls out Blue Jays analysts Gregg Zaun, Dirk Hayhurst

33 Comments

I’m struggling to think of an instance where a ballplayer called out his own team’s analysts for a good reason. Most of the time it’s whining about the fact that people in a role filled with so many in-the-bag homers are shockingly telling it like it is.  We saw that when Cubs players got mad at Steve Stone a few years ago. I think we’re seeing it again with the Blue Jays where catcher J.P. Arencibia decided to call out Jays analysts Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst the other morning.

He criticized Zaun for using performance enhancing drugs (Zaun was mentioned in the Mitchell Report) and went after Hayhurst for not having much major league experience. Which would be fine if either of those guys had made similar personal attacks on Arencibia, but as far as I can tell, based on what Richard Griffin wrote in this followup and what Jays fans have said on various message boards I’ve seen the past couple of days, Zaun and Hayhurst did nothing more than note that (a) the Jays are struggling; and (b) Arencibia himself is struggling in particularly mighty fashion.

Which, fine, maybe in today’s media landscape analysts who work for team-related media outlets are expected to be pushovers whose criticism of struggling players has no teeth. But there’s no law that says it has to be that way. And when you’re a player who is expected to be one of the team’s rising talents and you’re posting a .217/.245/.420 line while playing suspect defense, you don’t have a ton of room to talk.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.