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Jeff Francoeur explains why he gave Charlie Samuels $50,000

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As reported this morning, former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was arrested today, accused of gambling with mobbed-up bookies, stealing Mets’ equipment and memorabilia and committing fraud.  You know, typical New York stuff.

You may recall that last fall when this all hit the news Jeff Francoeur’s name popped up by virtue of him writing $50,000 in checks to Samuels. No one ever suggested that Francoeur did anything wrong — and really, how could they? Look at that face! — but it did raise eyebrows.

Francoeur is in New York today facing the Yankees, and explained it to Roger Rubin of the Daily News.

For starters, $15,000 of that was the end-of-year bonus given by Francoeur to Samuels, and intended to be distributed to the various cooks, massage therapists, clubhouse attendants and the like.  Which, while that seems like a lot, is a standard kind of thing. At least in form. I really don’t know if that’s a lot of money for end of year tips, but I bet it’s within the normal range for veterans.

As for the other $35,000, well, we’ll let Francoeur explain it:

“I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car … I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car.

That explains it all. Maybe someday they’ll get banks in New York City. But until that day, clubhouse managers who make $80K a year and who happen to have $35K in cash laying around are really the only option available for guys who want to by their parents a car.

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.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.