The Pirates are jerking Sanchez, Wilson and their fans around

Leave a comment

On Friday
I relayed the news of the contract offers given by the Pirates to
Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. When I did, I said “I can’t recall an
instance of Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington playing games with players.”
Well, here’s an instance of it:

The Pirates yesterday pulled back their contract extension offers to
Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez and, though they remain open to new
negotiations, there was no indication any are forthcoming. “That time
has come and gone,” general manager Neal Huntington said of the offers’
lifespan. “They feel like we’re awfully light both in years and
dollars. In our minds, the conversations are at a standstill . . .
Typically, in a negotiation, you get a counter-offer. That’s how
conversations continue. We’ve not gotten that to this point.”

I love how Huntington is trying to make Wilson and Sanchez sound like
the bad guys here. But listen to Wilson: “Answer me this: How can we
respond with counter-offers when we were told that those were
take-it-or-leave-it offers? How do you counter that?” And then listen
to Huntington again:

“A year ago, I was an idiot for extending Freddy for $6 million. And
now, I’m an idiot for not being willing to give him a heck of a lot
more than that. In Jack’s case, he has played terrific defense for us,
maybe the best of his career. But this is the fourth of five years that
he’s been a below-average league bat for his position. So, we’ve got to
be realistic in our evaluations.”

Except that, according to the wire reports, he wasn’t offering “a heck of a lot more than that”:

Sanchez was offered $10 million over two seasons, a deal contingent
upon him shelving the $8.4 million he will be owed in 2010 if he makes
600 plate appearances this season. Wilson, the most tenured Pirates
player with nine seasons in uniform, was offered $8 million over two
years – or less than his club option of $8.4 million for next season
alone.

To sum up: Sanchez was given an option by Neal Huntington that rewarded
good consistent play, and he has delivered it. The new offer he was
given, however, takes that away and stands to pay him far less than he
can expect to get over the next two years regardless. Wilson is also
being asked to drop his option and take a pay cut, all while being
bad-mouthed by his boss. Neither of the offers ever stood a chance of
being accepted and Huntington had to know it.

Not that they’re necessarily terrible offers on some objective
level. In fact, they probably represent decent approximations of each
players’ value going forward. The problem, though, isn’t the offers
themselves. It’s the way in which they were communicated: publicly, and
in such a way as to put Sanchez and Wilson on the spot and to make them
sound like bad guys when they were rejected.

A GM in Huntington’s position sometimes has to make unpopular moves,
such as parting with popular players like Sanchez and Wilson. He should
have the guts to simply do so, however, rather than make a big phony
show of wanting to keep them in an effort to win the P.R. game.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.