Derek Jeter

Wrong hole, Buster!

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ESPN’s Buster Olney just proposed the following on Twitter:

Idea in Monday column:Ask players in March if they will attend ASG if asked and participate if not on DL. If they decline,no name on ballot.

Obviously, this is in response to the fact that 16 players have been replaced since the All-Star Game rosters were officially announced a week ago.

But it’s such a ridiculous idea that does no one any good.

Of the 16 players replaced:

– Nine were pitchers, who aren’t listed on the ballot anyway (and six of those were scratched only because they pitched Sunday, with another getting scratched because he is on the DL).

– Six were position players nursing legitimate injuries that left them unable to play this weekend.

There were only two players actually chosen for the All-Star Game who opted out despite being able to play: Derek Jeter, who is a week removed from a DL stint caused by a strained calf, and Mariano Rivera, who was unavailable for two days last week because of a triceps strain.

In addition, there’s Aramis Ramirez, who almost certainly would have taken part in the All-Star Game if asked initially, but declined when offered a last-minute invite because he had already planned his vacation.  Technically, he was never on the team anyway.

Look, I think it’s as ridiculous as anyone that there are going to be 84 players able to call themselves All-Stars this year.  But it’s not a case of players choosing not to participate; it’s a function of MLB’s decision to bloat the rosters in a completely ridiculous fashion.

And, really, does Olney expect Jeter, one of the game’s most media-conscious players, to decide in March to rule himself out for the All-Star Game? Seriously?

Take this one back to the drawing board, buddy.

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.