Did the Yankees rig the fifth starter's race?

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That’s what Joel Sherman of the Post says. Except, contrary to what I thought when I read his headline, he doesn’t think it was Joba Chamberlain who got short shrift, it was Sergio Mitre. Sherman suggests that Mitre’s superior spring training stats would have won him the fifth starter’s job over Hughes had things been on the up-and-up. Which assumes that you chose your starting pitchers based on spring training stats alone as opposed to the long term well-being of the team, which Hughes — and Chamberlain — represents far more than Sergio Mitre does.  If Cashman had made his choice of fifth starter based on spring training stats alone he’d be doing the organization a massive disservice.

Sherman likewise calls the centerfield competition between Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner “rigged.”  Which is likewise silly because it’s not at all clear that there ever was a proper competition. The Yankees wanted to make sure Granderson could still handle center, sure, but I don’t recall anyone connected with the team declaring it an open competition.  Gardner had the same chance of starting in center this year that my backup propane tank had in grilling my steaks last night: they could be deployed if necessary, but as long as the primary option was up to the job it wasn’t gonna happen.

Gardner is like my propane tank in another way too: both I and the Yankees could do better. Next spring I’m going with a proper charcoal grill. Next spring the Yankees are going with Carl Crawford. I think we’ll both be happier because of it.

Must-Click Link: The Turbulent Final Year of Yordano Ventura’s Life

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals reacts in the sixth inning while taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in game six of the 2015 MLB American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 23, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.

It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.

Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.