Just when I didn't think the Cubs could get more foolish…

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There are nine active pitchers with at least 100 victories and a win-loss percentage better than .600:
1. Johan Santana
2. Roy Halladay
3. Roy Oswalt
4. Tim Hudson
5. Andy Pettitte
6. CC Sabathia
7. Chris Carpenter
8. Josh Beckett
9. Carlos Zambrano
This is just a guess, but I don’t think the teams that control any of the first eight are weighing conversions to relief.
Ever since he landed his big contract, we’ve been told Carlos Zambrano isn’t a winner.
The Cubs, though, have played .518 ball during Zambrano’s seven seasons as a full-time starting pitcher. Zambrano, over that stretch, has a 100-58 record, good for a .632 winning percentage. Subtracting Zambrano’s 158 decisions from the Cubs’ mark leaves the team, remarkably enough, 487-487.
Sticking Zambrano in the bullpen is really the most boneheaded move the Cubs could have made. Sticking him in left field would have made as much sense. Zambrano, after all, has 16 homers in 314 at-bats since the beginning of 2006. Alfonso Soriano has eight homers in his past 314 at-bats.
Zambrano’s stuff hasn’t gone anywhere. He got lit up on Opening Day, but then, he usually gets lit up on Opening Day. The Cubs knew that and started him anyway. Zambrano has a history of tensing up in big situations, making him a possible timebomb in a late-inning role. Maybe he’ll be great. Maybe he’ll be the terrific seventh- and eighth-inning guy the Cubs need.
But Zambrano was pretty much a lock to be an above average starter this year. Ryan Dempster is the only other one of those the Cubs have. Ted Lilly’s health remains in doubt. It’s possible I’ve underestimated Randy Wells, but I don’t like his middling fastball and strikeout rate. Carlos Silva is due for an eight-run first inning anytime now, and while I like Tom Gorzelanny, he’s not someone who can be counted on.
So, no, I don’t think it’s too early to write off the Cubs for 2010. Zambrano’s shift will probably prove temporary, but this is a team in disarray. The NL Central won’t be up for grabs unless the Cardinals hit a mess of injuries, and I doubt the Cubs will prove better than then second place teams from the NL East or West.

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.