Report: Former Giants reliever Sergio Romo agrees to deal with Dodgers

Report: Former Giants reliever Sergio Romo agrees to deal with Dodgers

Update (Feb. 15, 2017): Sergio Romo officially signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers.

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SAN FRANCISCO — One of the most popular relievers in Giants history is headed for the other side of a storied rivalry. 

Sergio Romo agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Romo’s deal will be for one year and is pending a physical. Romo, a native of Southern California, had spent his entire career with the Giants after being selected in the 28th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. 

Romo had a 2.58 ERA in nine seasons with the Giants, saving 84 games, including the clincher in the 2012 World Series. His fastball to freeze Miguel Cabrera will go down as one of the gutsiest pitches ever thrown in the postseason, but his reign as a closer wouldn’t last much longer. Romo was an All-Star in 2013, but midseason struggles the next year cost him the ninth-inning role. He had just six saves the last two seasons, primarily serving as a setup man for Santiago Casilla while also battling injuries. 

Romo made just 40 appearances in 2016 because of a flexor strain in a right elbow that has always seemed on the verge of blowing out. The Giants handled him carefully once he returned, but he grabbed a prominent role down the stretch by going back to his old ways. Romo’s slider was about as dominant as ever in August and September, and he posted a 1.42 ERA over his final 25 appearances. 

His time with the Giants ended in an uncharacteristic way. Romo was part of the group that blew Game 4 of the NLDS, and the Giants opened their offseason with a set plan to go in a different direction. Mark Melancon was signed to a four-year deal in December. Romo and Casilla had both indicated a desire to return to San Francisco, but Casilla signed with the A’s in January after not receiving an offer, and Romo was left in the same position. In recent weeks, it became clear that the Dodgers would likely present the best opportunity. Romo's departure all but ends the wildly successful Core Four era. Jeremy Affeldt retired at the end of the 2015 season and Javier Lopez may join him soon. 

In Los Angeles, Romo could have an opportunity to continue to pitch in the late innings. The Dodgers do not have a set eighth-inning guy in front of closer Kenley Jansen, and while Romo is best used as a matchup play these days, he remains death on right-handed hitters. Romo, born in nearby Brawley, should be a popular addition in Los Angeles. It won’t hurt that the player who has one of the best entrance routines in baseball will now play in the park with the loudest speakers.

The Giants will face Romo’s Dodgers 19 times in 2017, starting on April 24 in San Francisco. Romo is following a path recently blazed (unsuccessfully) by Jason Schmidt and Brian Wilson, but he should find a softer landing. Romo won’t be asked to be an ace or a closer. The Dodgers surely just want him to continue spinning sliders to right-handers, piling up strikeouts one or two batters at a time. If he’s the Romo of old, the rivalry will get an interesting boost. While the Giants send out a lineup filled with left-handers, Romo may see plenty of Hunter Pence, his neighbor in the clubhouse, and Buster Posey, his longtime catcher. 

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.

I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.

Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?

But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.

Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.

According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.

In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.

“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.

But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.

And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.

Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.

The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.

That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.

Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.

The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.

So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?

Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.

But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.

See how many wins you get then.

What's wrong with Giants? 'There's no trust, there's no belief...'

What's wrong with Giants? 'There's no trust, there's no belief...'

The Giants have dropped 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of the last 26 en route to a NL West-worst 27-51 record.

Their play on the field is making it tough for one of their broadcasters to watch what's going on.

"It is unbelievably bad right now. It was hard to watch this weekend," Mike Krukow said on KNBR 680 on Monday morning. "They got beat every way that was possible. They got out hit, they got out hustled, they got out defended, they got out pitched."

So what is the problem with the team that just got swept by the Mets?

"There's no rhythm, there's no trust, there's no belief that if you don't get a hit, the guy behind you is going to pick you up. They set the table and day after day, they just don't get the hit. It has zapped them of all their strength. You get the sense they're searching, they're looking for an ignitor that just doesn't exist anymore," Krukow said.

The former Giants pitcher compared the feeling around the team to that of the 1985 Giants team that went 62-100.

"It is dismal, as low of a point in a Giants clubhouse and a confidence level that I've seen in a long time," Krukow said.

Krukow pointed out the most concerning part about what he's watching.

"It just doesn't feel like there's a belief that it can get better. And that's what is so concerning. These guys are proud," Krukow said.

Krukow had one lasting message for the Giants.

"They have to fight through this. They have to stay together. That's their only chance," Krukow said.