Marc Carig, beat writer at Newsday, shares this scoop:
The Mets remain in contact with Scott Boras, the agent for shortstop Stephen Drew, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. But the source likened the situation to the Mets’ pursuit of outfielder Michael Bourn late last winter. Bourn ultimately landed with the Indians, but not before the Mets made a serious run at signing him, mostly because he had lowered his asking price as the season drew near.
Drew has struggled to attract a healthy free agent market this winter because the team that signs him — unless it’s the Red Sox — will have to give up a top draft pick. The Mets want to upgrade over Ruben Tejada, who hit .202/.259/.260 in 2013, but they’re not going to overextend themselves to do so. Tejada is only 24 years old.
Drew, 30, batted .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI in 124 games last year for the Red Sox.
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.