A few years ago I wrote a post about Giants bench coach Ron Wotus getting suspended for a game for whatever it was bench coaches can get suspended for. At the time I said that it would probably be the last time I ever used Ron Wotus’ picture on HardballTalk.
Shows you what I know: Jon Heyman reports that the Mariners have interviewed Wotus for their managerial opening.
Ain’t gonna lie: I don’t know much about Wotus apart from that suspension and the fact that, generally speaking, you don’t hear much about the Giants having big on-field tactical blunders that a good bench coach would prevent. So I assume that and his long tenure with Bruce Bochy makes him a good guy who is good at his job.
The job he’s interviewing for? Eh, not exactly drawing star power. So far the Mariners have been linked with Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, each of whom are interviewing for higher-profile jobs in Chicago and Detroit, respectively. But good luck to Wotus all the same.
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.