MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince unloads on CC Sabathia

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Anthony Castrovince is one of MLB.com’s best. He’s a good reporter and, unlike some of the other people over there, he doesn’t give off the impression that he’s overly cozy with the team he covers, the Cleveland Indians. He’s a straight shooter, as likely to see things from the player’s perspective as he is the team’s perspective when those two perspectives are at odds. And even if he’s arguing one side of things, he’s always been fair in my experience.

As a result, if Castrovince is going after someone — I mean really going after someone — you can bet that something really, really got under his skin. In this case it’s CC Sabathia, who said yesterday, in response to a question about the Indians losing him, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in the space of a year or so, that “that wasn’t our fault. They traded us. That’s on them.”

Read Castovince’s laser-guided missile assault at CC Sabathia in full for all of its glory. In the meantime, here’s a taste:

Essentially, Sabathia got lucky. Because 50 years from now, Indians
fans won’t remember him as the guy who walked away from the Tribe for
the big payday elsewhere. He won’t go down with the likes of Albert
Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Rather, he’ll be remembered as the
Cy Young winner the Indians stupidly dealt in his prime.

Nevermind, of course, that the Indians were forced to deal Sabathia
because he was going to walk away three months later and because he and
his teammates crumbled upon the weight of expectations in 2008.
Nevermind that the primary reason that ’07 team — a “good team” in its
own right, having won 96 games in the regular season — didn’t ascend to
the World Series like it should have was because Sabathia was
outpitched in Games 1 and 5.

If Sabathia were being honest with himself and honest with the fans, he
would have said, “This is a business, and it’s difficult for a team in a
smaller market like Cleveland to afford to keep its core intact. That’s
why it’s a shame we weren’t able to take advantage of the special
opportunity we had in ’07. And as the ace of that pitching staff, I take
the brunt of the blame.”

You may disagree with parts of it, but I think Castrovince got it mostly right. The key here is that Castrovince does not — like so many other scribes who criticize big money players — expect some sort of loyalty from Sabathia. He didn’t expect CC to say with the Indians because such a thing made no economic or logical sense for anyone. All he expects is honesty from guys in Sabathia’s position. For them to say “hey, baseball economics are what they are, and that leads to things like Lee, Martinez and I getting traded,” rather than to disingenuously blame the team.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and I think that Castrovince nailed it.

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.