Tony La Russa hates the Home Run Derby

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Tony La Russa is happy that his star slugger has decided to skip this year’s Home Run Derby and minces no words when it comes to criticizing the event itself:

“I’m just irritated by how much attention the (Derby) gets. It’s like a big show, and the game is an afterthought,
which is totally ESPN.”

My love-hate relationship with La Russa continues.  I’m in total agreement with him on this kind of stuff, yet I hate his managerial style. I admire his activism on behalf of animals yet I disagree with his position on the Arizona immigration law. I respect his considerable accomplishments as a manager yet I find his personal style, personal habits and selective myopia to be profoundly troubling.

Maybe on balance, though, I have to say I like the guy. Not because of what he says and does, really, but because whether I agree with him or not he plays less of that p.r. game than anyone else.

What other managers are going to call out ESPN like that? What other managers are going to speak their mind like La Russa does, even if his mind is often totally whack? Ozzie Guillen does. Bobby Cox will on some very narrow topics. Charlie Manuel does in my mind. Not too many others will. Obviously that’s a function of job security — La Russa has the closest thing to a job for life as any manager — but it probably has to do with temperament too.  I don’t necessarily care for La Russa, but I’m glad he’s around.

No point to this, really. Twitter has been down for almost two hours now, and I don’t have anyone else with whom to share my lame musings, so you all get it.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.