The Mets just issued a press release saying that Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya have been “relieved of their duties.” This follows their morning release about the sun rising and anticipates their evening release about darkness falling. As soon as it came out a dozen fedora-wearing reporters rushed to pay phones to call in their scoop, they were so surprised.
Jon Heyman just tweeted that Minaya is being retained by the Mets to do . . . something. I’ve argued that such a thing wouldn’t be the worst idea on the planet and that the Mets, not wanting to pay Omar to do nothing (he’s under contract next year) may want to keep him around. Looking at it differently, however, there’s just way too much of a chance that his mere presence makes life difficult for his successor at GM. Well, more difficult than it will already be what with having to answer to Jeff Wilpon. I could see that part of things ending poorly.
Manuel, of course, is really gone. I’m having a hard time shedding a tear for him. He played a big part in Willie Randolph getting ousted a couple of years ago, allegedly serving as a conduit of player complaints about Randolph to the front office. Whether or not that was really a problem, he never showed any indication that he could inspire the Mets to do anything special, and he has certainly lost the confidence of the press, the fans talk radio and all of the usual constituencies that make managing in New York unique.
The Mets now embark on their quest to find a general manager who is savvy enough to fix the many things wrong with this team but desperate enough to where he’ll willingly subject himself to Jeff Wilpons’ caprice and the seeming mandate from ownership that you can’t rebuild in New York. I don’t know who fits that description. It may not matter unless ownership, in addition to changing managers and the GM, changes the way they’ve been doing things for the past several years.
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.
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.