They teach you when you’re a young litigator that when you’ve got the law on your side argue the law, when you’ve got the facts on your side argue the facts and when you’ve got neither the law nor the facts on your side, bang your fist on the table.
So it is in baseball: when you’ve got a talented roster play up its talent, when you’ve got an experienced roster play up its experience and when you’ve got neither talent nor experience talk up the “clubhouse culture.” Example: the Miami Marlins:
Marlins baseball operations president Larry Beinfest spoke to reporters today and was asked about improving the clubhouse culture. He wouldn’t name specific players who contributed to the sour mix last year. But the goings-on with players like Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell are well-documented … Whether some individuals we thought were more part of a poor clubhouse, I’m not going to go into any of that other than we have made significant changes. We have done our homework on prospects, the makeup of the player has been important.
That’s great and all, but the poor clubhouse culture from before, to the extent you can lay it at the feet of guys like Ramirez and Bell, is really the doing of Jeff Loria. Loria fired Fredi Gonzalez when he dared call Ramirez out on his loafing and bad attitude, emboldening him even more. Then he signed Bell and gave him a huge contract against the advice of his baseball people. He then fired the manager who tried to take a hard line with Bell when Bell didn’t like that he was no longer the closer.
So, good luck with the team chemistry, Miami. It should last until Loria decides, once again, to meddle with his team too much and undermine his manager and executives.
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.
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.