jeff francoeur royals presser

Jeff Francoeur already has Kansas City media under his spell

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It’s been less than a week since Jeff Francoeur signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Royals, but he predictably already has local media members in Kansas City writing the same type of overly glowing prose and outright fluff about him that became commonplace in Atlanta and New York.

Yesterday the Royals held a press conference to introduce Francoeur, after which Terez Paylor wrote the following introduction to an article in the Kansas City Star:

With a smile on his face and a brand-new No. 21 home jersey on his back, the newest Kansas City Royal plopped into a chair next to general manager Dayton Moore and proceeded to field questions from reporters Monday. Five minutes in–and several laughs later–one thing about Jeff Francoeur became perfectly clear: He does not lack personality, enthusiasm or (most important) hope about the future.

Seriously. Here’s a little more from the same article:

These are the positive things that players typically say during introductory news conferences, especially when it’s the offseason and it’s the Royals. But as Francoeur talked on this day, it’s hard not to believe him or Moore when they insist that better times are ahead.

Seriously. When it comes to people to trust “when they insist that better times are ahead” Dayton Moore and Jeff Francoeur would be pretty close to the bottom of my list, since one is a mistake-prone general manager of a consistently horrendous team and the other is an exceptionally overrated player who has the lowest OPS in baseball among all corner outfielders during the past three seasons. But hey, that’s just me.

Paylor goes on to make passing mention of Francoeur’s terrible on-base percentage, but mostly just brushes it aside because, after all, he “was once considered to be one of the best prospects in baseball.” As if that’s at all relevant for a 27-year-old with more than 3,400 plate appearances under his belt.

Francoeur is far from the worst player in baseball–although he ranks up there when teams insist on playing him every day–but the real source of the mockery he receives from folks like me is that the media members covering him on a daily basis can’t seem to avoid getting caught up in his sparkling personality and ability to give them good quotes. He’s a career .268/.310/.425 hitter who managed only a modest one-year deal to sign with his fourth team in seven years, yet the focus always seems to be on anything but his performance.

That must be one hell of a smile.

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.