Speaking to the media earlier today, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he expects to start the 2014 season with Ruben Tejada at shortstop, tweets Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. The Mets were reportedly interested in Jhonny Peralta before he signed with the Cardinals. With Stephen Drew leading the class of remaining free agent shortstops, the Mets would rather run with Tejada than hand out another lengthy, expensive contract. ESPN’s Adam Rubin tweets that the only way the Mets would justify signing Drew would be if they could shed another contract.
Tejada wrapped up the 2013 season with a paltry .519 OPS in 227 plate appearances, the second-lowest mark across baseball among players who stepped to the plate at least 200 times. He was narrowly edged out by Jamey Carroll at .518.
Alderson also mentioned that, with the Curtis Granderson signing made official, the Mets aren’t likely to make any more big signings, though the team is still actively searching for a starting pitcher.
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.