Michael Young dugout

What we talk about when we talk about Michael Young

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Barring him hitting the World Series-winning home run or something, this is the last thing I’m writing about Michael Young for a while. And really, I’m not even writing anything about Young himself here.

I’m mostly just quoting Gregg Doyel, because even though I believe that he and I are on different sides of the dividing line he describes when it comes to Michael Young, he’s pretty much right on the money in describing the existence of the dividing line:

Young’s role, for lack of a better word, in the evolution of the game’s coverage. His place in the conversation between the two camps of baseball media: old vs. new, mainstream vs. sabermetrics. Michael Young isn’t just straddling the fault line. He is the fault line … So Young is that guy, an offensive version of the Felix Hernandez vs. CC Sabathia debate for the 2010 Cy Young. And writers on both sides are waging their own war, on Twitter and in blog posts. It’s a little unseemly, to be honest, the way both sides are using Michael Young the way an angry divorcing couple uses their only child to get at each other.

I don’t agree that there’s spite here — I feel what I feel about Michael Young and the world in which he inhabits rather genuinely and — even if you choose to disbelieve me — without malice towards him personally.  And I believe those who rave about Young approach it the same way. They’re not trying to simply make a political point nor are they showing him disingenuous love.

But I do agree that this stuff is way less about Young himself than it is about competing philosophies, both about how to value a player and how to decide what we think of players off the field, their intangibles, etc. Young is a proxy. He’s a Rorschach test. While no one thinks he isn’t a good player, he does things well that a certain sort of person values more highly than another sort of person.  Same goes for some of the sabermetric darlings of the past.  Dwight Evans should be in the Hall of Fame but isn’t and Jim Rice is but shouldn’t be precisely because of that appreciation deficit.

I think there will always be players that live on those battle lines. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Life is boring when everyone agrees on stuff like this.

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.