Pudge is not the guy you want developing your young pitchers

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Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus is the first person I’ve seen defend the Pudge Rodriguez deal:

But it many ways, this deal isn’t about Pudge at all. If you are the
Nationals, who is the most important player on your roster? It’s
Stephen Strasburg, and it’s by a country mile. Could there really be
anything better for Strasburg’s development than giving him a veteran
catcher who understands the game as well as anyone around?

The
only problem with that is that Pudge has no real history of helping to
develop young pitchers.  I was talking to some reporters who have
covered Rodriguez in the past yesterday — guys who followed him in
Texas, Florida and Detroit. Reporters who have very high opinions of
Pudge in general and who have never slammed him in print as far as I
can tell. To a man they say that Pudge is neutral if not detrimental to
a young pitcher’s development.

The story is that he rarely if
ever takes part in the pitcher/catcher meetings before games during
which game plans and opposing hitters are discussed. He mostly just
kind of sits there and lets the backup catchers take the lead. He also
is said to care so much about his caught stealing percentages that
he’ll call fastballs when they’re not warranted by the count so he has
a better chance of killing the runner.  I suppose killing runners is
valuable and no one’s better at it than Pudge, but the runner can’t
score if you get the hitter out, right?

Granted: this is
hearsay. But it’s hearsay from people who have covered the guy in the
past and from people who don’t seem to have any axes to grind. The
story they tell:  Pudge Rodriguez: great catcher; was once a great
hitter; nice enough guy; not the best mentor for young pitchers.  If
you’re gonna defend the Nats signing him for two years and $6 million,
you’re going to have to do better than that.

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)
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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)
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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.