July 1st happens to be my wedding anniversary. Sixteenth if you care. In honor of my anniversary, my wife is going to grill me a nice juicy steak this evening.
Really! Unlike your backwards little worlds, in Chez Calcaterra the woman is the master of the grill. Deduct all the man points from me that you want, but just know that while you chauvinists are sweating over a hot grill and demanding that you be in charge of the meat, I’m sitting in a lounge chair and enjoying a tasty beverage. And, truth be told, a much more tasty steak than I could ever grill myself.
July 1st is also notable, however, in that it is Canada Day. I have too many windows open right now to Google it, but I’m pretty sure that Canada Day marks the anniversary of the time a heavily-armed contingent of Canadian freedom fighters drove the British Army into the Bay of Fundy, after which they executed Queen Victoria on the front steps of The Château Frontenac. It’s a nation borne of violence, really, and it’s evident in everything those godless northern heathens do. I should know. My mother’s parents and her entire extended family is Canadian. They’re a people not to be trifled with.
In honor of Canada Day, the Jays played at home this afternoon, and they did it to a packed house, which was nice to see. They also did it in special uniforms in honour of the holiday:
I can’t say I like ’em that much. But I don’t like my mother’s parents or her entire extended family all that much either, so maybe I’m just not meant to understand.
And the Jays lost 7-6 too. Oh, Canada indeed.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.