We see a lot of beer and champagne celebrations after teams clinch, well, everything. When I’m feeling particularly grumpy and humorless I tend to think that maybe teams should save such celebrations until they win the pennant at the very least because, really, these things are getting a bit rote and scripted and isn’t one celebration enough?
When I’m not feeling grumpy, however — and that’s most of the time — I realize that these are grown men who can and should be able to do whatever the hell they want. And in no instance is my objection to them going to be some sort of puritanical “this is all too much alcohol and debauchery” thing. Unlike Buzz Killington here:
The stunning excess exhibited in these celebrations is perhaps the biggest problem of all. This isn’t a matter of just popping a cork or two or 10; this is an all-out, binged-up, beer and champagne blast. It would be one thing if it were being done in private, but it’s not. It’s there for all of us to see, and it will repeat itself over and over again in the coming weeks.
That was actually Christine Brennan of USA Today, who could not be reached for comment because she was off thinking of the children someplace. Mostly Bryce Harper, who she mentions a lot in this story even though it seemed like the Nationals and Harper took great pains to not have the underage kid drink. Fair enough, though. You don’t want scenes of teenagers boozing it up.
Beyond that, however, I’d personally rather see these team-sanctioned booze blasts than to have them curtailed, which encourages the players to go out on the town to party. Because if it’s official, you have to imagine that the team is making sure the players all have sober rides home. And as far as I can recall, we’ve never had a DUI incident after one of these clinching blow-outs. Do it off-site and you’re inviting chaos.
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.