Pedro Alvarez out at third base, but no position change imminent

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Earlier today, Matthew Pouliot discussed the ugliness of the Pirates’ third base predicament, as Pedro Alvarez has been an untenable defensive liability for the club this season. There was talk of moving Alvarez from third base to first base, but that would displace Ike Davis who is Alvarez’s equal against right-handed pitching.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports that, although Josh Harrison will take over third base on an everyday basis going forward, the Pirates won’t consider a position change for Alvarez until after the season. The Pirates also signed Jayson Nix to a one-year major league contract earlier today.

Alvarez has managed a mediocre¬†.235/.322/.402 slash line with 15 home runs and 49 RBI this season, but nobody has made more errors at the hot corner than Alvarez (24). Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson comes in second with 18, so there’s a veritable gap and it explains the quagmire in Pittsburgh.

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.