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Some HBT commenting housekeeping

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Just two weeks ago I wrote a personal blog post about how, for all of the insanity, ugliness and poor taste of comments sections, they serve a useful purpose. Several useful purposes, actually.

There is a bit of community here among many of you, and I’m glad we can serve as a forum for that. As my landing on an unfortunate Buzzfeed list this morning shows — a lot of my own mistakes are caught by you guys and I’m glad when you point them out. You also challenge my thinking on any number of topics and I welcome that. This is HardballTalk, not Hardball Soliloquy. Interaction is important and it will continue. Comments aren’t going anywhere as long as it’s up to me.

But I gotta tell ya, a lot of you have been real jackasses lately. The crossing of racist, sexist and homophobic lines has increased lately. As has the violation of the more amorphous yet still important standard of simply not being obnoxious to one another. It’s entirely possible to disagree with someone else here without being a jerk. It’s a shame how many of you seem to have forgotten that.

As a result of this, we have carried out a few bannings over the past few days. A couple of them relatively regular commenters. There was no warning or notice to them as this is not a democracy and we can ban whoever we like. We just reached a tipping point with them. We will continue to keep an itchy ban finger for the time being because some people are making it unpleasant for the vast majority of people here who just want to talk about baseball and we won’t tolerate it.

That aside, our commenting rules are and will remain pretty permissive. We don’t shoot down comments or ban commenters simply for disagreeing with us. Or for being idiots. Or for using bad language. Or for being insensitive or controversial. It’s actually good when people argue or disagree about things or when others are taken out of their comfort zone. That’s when you learn things. And no one has the right to go through life without having their sensibilities offended from time to time. The last thing we want is for some phony level politeness, some hyper-orthodoxy or some brand of groupthink to rule the comments. Mix it up, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

But really people, clean it up a bit. Be civil to one another. Understand that what may wash in a thread under one of my posts may not wash for the other HBT writers and know that, if you act like a jackass, you’re going to lose your commenting privileges. As always, we won’t tolerate the following:

  • Racism;
  • Misogyny;
  • Homophobia or gay bashing;
  • Antisemitism;
  • Excessive personal attacks on other commenters.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about controversial topics. Or argue with people. But be adults about it.

Thanks.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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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 White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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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.