Blue Jays GM says Ervin Santana didn’t want to pitch in the American League

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Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos had some interesting comments about Ervin Santana after the free agent right-hander turned down a similar offer from the Blue Jays to sign a one-year, $14.1 million deal with the Braves today.

John Lott of the National Post passed along Anthopoulos’ quotes from this morning’s appearance on Sportsnet 590 radio in Toronto, which included the GM saying that Santana had little interest in pitching in the American League and the right-hander’s decision “was not money, was not years.”

“We’re in the American League,” Anthopoulos said. “Guys that don’t want to be in the American League, there’s nothing we can do.”

Santana has spent his entire career in the AL pitching for the Angels and Royals, so it’d probably be a stretch to suggest he’s scared of spending another season in the same league he’s already spent nine years. And looking at things from Santana’s point of view it’s tough to blame him for trying to build up future value pitching in the NL East instead of the AL East. That’s just logical, rather than some sort of test of manhood. None of which makes his decision any less frustrating for Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays, of course.

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

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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.