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Carl Crawford = Roberto Clemente, and more of the latest buzz from Rosenthal

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Ken Rosenthal has a new column up.  Nothing outrageously juicy in it, but several thought-provoking items:

  • Carl Crawford’s career to this point looks a lot like Roberto Clemente’s. A flawed comparison, no question, but an interesting one anyway. If the second half of Crawford’s career follows Clemente’s pattern anyone who signs him will be happy. Well, assuming it ends differently.
  • Understatement of the century, about the Marlins, based on a potential Dan Uggla trade: “a post-Uggla lineup that included Emilio Bonifacio at second and Chris Coghlan in center field would raise significant questions.”  Among those questions are “why would I ever, ever want to watch a Marlins game?”
  • Regarding Victor Martinez’s free agent prospects: “No doubt, he’s an outstanding hitter and teammate, but his numbers, if he were a full-time first baseman, would rank him only slightly ahead of say, free agent Adam LaRoche.”  This is an overlooked point. Everyone loves Martinez’s flexibility — and it is valuable — but he’s not a good enough defensive catcher to stick back there every day, nor is he good enough a hitter to carry first base full time for a contender. He’s a great player to have, no question, but no team should pay him like a front line superstar. Nothing against him, but if he’s your best, you’re not going anywhere.
  • Ken Macha could be the Mets’ bench coach if Terry Collins gets the job, thanks to both his personal connection with Collins — they were minor league teammates — and Macha’s familiarity with the NL.  My view of bench coaches, as far as it goes, is that they should be managerial b.s. detectors. Old guys that aren’t hot prospects for another job elsewhere, but who have been around the block a bit and can tell the manager “Dude. Seriously. You don’t want to do that,” without fear of alienating anyone or hurting their career.  Macha can probably be that guy.

Many more nuggets in there.  Winter stinks, but Rosenthal’s hot stove stuff is always a good way to kill some time.

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.