Josh Donaldson and Justin Morneau added to Home Run Derby

10 Comments

The field for next week’s Home Run Derby is officially in place.

MLB just announced that Josh Donaldson of the Athletics has been added to the American League squad. Meanwhile, Justin Morneau of the Rockies has been named as the final participant for the National League.

Toronto’s Jose Bautista is the captain for the American League and will also be joined by Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, and Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Morneau’s teammate, Troy Tulowitzki, is the captain for the National League and also has Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier on his side. Cespedes won the whole thing last year.

The 2014 Home Run Derby will take place next Monday night (8 p.m. ET) at Target Field, the site of this year’s All-Star Game. The hometown crowd will rooting for Dozier, but Morneau figures to get a lot of support in his return to Minnesota.

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

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
11 Comments

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.