Yesterday reader Jack Marshall said what I thought slamming ESPN’s focus on the Manny Ramirez storyline to exclusion of, you know, the baseball game being played between the Dodgers and Red Sox on Sunday night. Last night, in an interview with WEEI’s Sam Dykstra, Peter Gammons agreed.
When asked whether it doesn’t make sense that there is still a pretty strong Manny Ramirez fascination in Boston, he said “I guess so” but added “I’m not celebrity-driven. I tend to be baseball-driven so it
really didn’t fascinate me at all.” Gammons took a more direct swipe at the Worldwide leader, debunking the notion that David Ortiz misses having Manny Ramirez in the lineup, saying “that whole story is a fable that people on ESPN like to tell.”
He then went on to list all of the reasons why fixating on Manny Ramirez makes little sense, including the fact that he’s just not a special player anymore. Indeed, Gammons said that if you take away the post-trade, pre-suspension time with the Dodgers, he’s basically been Billy Butler for the past four years. An interesting guy on some level, and likely a Hall of Famer, but not worthy of the hype in 2010.
I couldn’t be in greater agreement with Gammons on this point. The biggest problem with nationally televised baseball these days is the obsession with cramming dramatic narratives and storylines into the proceedings, likely on the assumption that a sporting event in and of itself is not enough to hold the fan’s interest.
Make a note of the guy’s tenure in Boston during his first at bat. Put up a little factoid graphic if you must. But then let it freakin’ go.
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.
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.