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The Cost Certainty of Sergio Romo

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The Giants announced last night that they've avoided arbitration with Sergio Romo. He gets a guaranteed $9 M over two years, according to... Dan Plesac of the MLB Network. Suddenly he's a scoop-busting journalist? OK, let's go with that until further notice.

It basically puts Romo at the low end of the fiscal range of the other veteran relievers in the bullpen, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. That seems about right: consistently excellent results for a few years now, but not quite the tenure. Grant pointed out yesterday that only one reliever with more than 200 innings pitched has a better career strikeout-to-walk ratio. Historic. He's also, for the past three years, been well above league-average at stranding runners:

Source: FanGraphs -- Sergio Romo

Let's never go back to the lies old-fashioned baseball people told us about guys like Scott Munter, that sometimes you really need to bring in that guy who can get a ground ball. No. When baserunners are wiggling around in the late innings, and the game is in the balance, we want strikeouts, dammit. We don't care if they come from a 99-MPH fastball, a 78-MPH no-dot slider, or a 56-MPH knuckle-eephus. Grounders have eyes that see. Bloopers tuck themselves into fair territory just beyond third base. Swinging bunts stay fair. But keep the ball out of play, and runners will not score.

As long as opponents don't reverse-engineer the here-it-comes slider, Sergio Romo is worth the contract he just signed, and more. His elbow is a joint of concern, of course, and a long spell of bad health will make the two-year commitment look ill-advised. But them's the risks; and them's that got the two World Series trophies and the $140 upper deck nosebleed seats for Opening Day can afford the risks. The outlay is still below market value. Romo is not a fungible reliever. A young minimum-wage fella isn't likely to fill Romo's roster spot at one-fifth the price and three-fifths the production.

Also, he promises to behave himself in airports. I admit I'll have to chuckle if hecklers on the road break this out when Romo takes the mound: "T-S-A! T-S-A! T-S-A!"

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