This is really a pretty amazing story, though it’s one that probably won’t have a happy ending.
According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Twins and infielder Jamey Carroll have agreed to terms on a two-year, $7 million contract.
That in itself doesn’t seem like a particularly bad move. However, according to both Rosenthal and Crasnick, the Twins are signing Carroll to serve as an everyday shortstop.
It’ll be the first time in his entire career that Carroll has been anointed an everyday shortstop. He’s never really been an everyday anything. His most career starts at one position in any year was 102 games at second base with the Rockies in 2006. Next after that was 66 games at second base with the Indians in 2008.
And Carroll is turning 38 in February!
Since 1901, there have been a total of 26 seasons in which a shortstop 38 or older has played in at least 100 games. The majority of them were by future Hall of Famers. Five of them were Honus Wagner seasons. Three were Luis Aparicio seasons. The last three were Omar Vizquel seasons. There certainly isn’t a Carroll in the bunch.
So, this is quite an experiment the Twins are undertaking. In their defense, Carroll, who rarely played shortstop prior to 2010, has started 118 games at the position the last two years without embarrassing himself in the least. According to the numbers, he’s been only a bit below average.
But the Twins are betting against history in a big way here. 38-year-olds aren’t typically legitimate shortstops, and Carroll wasn’t very rangey even in his youth. It might be best for the team if Trevor Plouffe solves his errant ways and becomes a legitimate shortstop, allowing Carroll to slide over to second base and start over Tsuyoshi Nishioka there. Carroll might well be pretty decent as a starter at second these next two seasons. At shortstop, he has some long odds to defy.
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.
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.