It's time for the Red Sox to cut ties with David Ortiz

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David Ortiz strikeout.jpgAlready platooning with Mike Lowell because he can’t hit lefties, Big Papi is now seemingly unable to hit righties too.  His line last night was ugly:  0-for-4, with two strikeouts and two double plays. As I mentioned in this morning’s recaps, the second double play came with the game tied 1-1, the based juiced and no one out.  See the fail of it all here.

Ortiz now sits at .149/.240/.358.  And actually, he’s hitting worse against the righties than he is the lefties (.614 vs. 694 OPS, respectively).  He’s been atrocious with runners in scoring position (.356 OPS).  He has brought absolutely nothing to the table this season sans a butt in a roster slot that Mike Lowell’s excellent hitting — .317/.391/.512, including a pinch-hit RBI double soon after Papi’s DP — is making increasingly redundant.

At least his teammates have his back. Here’s Dustin Pedroia:

“David’s fine. He’s one of our teammates. It could’ve
been me that hit into a double play. It happens to everybody, man. He’s
had 60 at-bats. A couple of years ago, I was hitting .170 and everyone
was ready to kill me too. What happened? Laser show so relax. I’m tired
of looking at the NESN poll, ‘Why is David struggling?’ David’s fine.
He’s one of our teammates. We believe in him. He came out of it last
year, he’s going to come out of it this year.”

Pedroia is probably referring to 2007, when he was in the .170s at about this point of the season. Of course he was also 23 years-old at the time, was making the league minimum, was not expected to carry much of the Red Sox’ offensive load, had defensive value and turned it around to earn Rookie of the Year honors.  Not exactly the same situation.

Pedroia is right about the fact that Ortiz did come out of it last year.  But is that something the Red Sox can count on again this year? And even if it is, is it something for which they can afford to wait?

If I’m Theo Epstein I thank David Ortiz for his service but send him off on an ice floe or a burning viking ship or whatever it is you do with old DHs who can’t cut it anymore. Harsh? Maybe. But the AL East is pretty harsh too, and the Red Sox stand 6.5 games behind a couple of teams who show no signs of slowing down.

Something has to be done.  David Ortiz has got to go.

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.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.