The Cubs' Carlos Silva is good? The White Sox's Jake Peavy is bad? This has got to be an April Fools' prank

Leave a comment

silva-carlos-100401.jpgThere is something odd going on with the Chicago sports scene.

No, Jay Cutler has not acquired the, umm, intestinal fortitude necessary to play quarterback. That would be too unbelievable to entertain even on April Fools’ Day. But what is happening is so puzzling it makes you rethink everything you know about baseball. Yes, as shocking as it seems, Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva appears to actually be good.

Before you rush to your calendar to see if it’s already 2012, consider that it is quite likely that Silva will not continue to be good for long. As he heads north to Wrigley Field and the games begin to count in the standings, there is a fair chance the Earth will return to its normal axis and Silva will go back to allowing nearly two base-runners per inning. Many of these base-runners will dance around the bases to score runs. This will also cause Cubs fans to logically heap blame on a goat, and possibly, Milton Bradley.

But for now, Milton Bradley and goats everywhere can rest easy, for after compiling a 1.40 ERA in his last five spring training starts, Carlos Silva is good. In fact, he tells the Chicago Tribune that he always believed he was good.

“I’m not going to say I’m surprised, because that’s what I’m working for,” Silva said. “I’ve been taking this spring very, very seriously.”

It’s nice that Silva is taking his job so seriously this spring. And I’m sure the Seattle Mariners are thrilled to hear it, because the non-serious, always-clowning-around Silva went 5-18 for them – in a pitcher’s park.

In related Chicago bizarreness, White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy continues to struggle, striking out seven but allowing three runs in four innings against a minor league team. He entered the day 2-1 with a 6.55 ERA in Cactus League play.

The reaction to Peavy’s spring results has manager Ozzie Guillen predictably testy:

“A lot of people are talking (bleep) on TV and radio (about Peavy),” Guillen said. “All of a sudden, when you have a microphone in your hands you think you know (a lot) about baseball.”

I hear you, Ozzie. And if Carlos Silva is going to be good, and Jake Peavy bad, I don’t know what to think of baseball anymore.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Getty Images
15 Comments

UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.

Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.