Clearly the Cardinals are not pleased with their center field situation, cycling through Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, and now Randal Grichuk while getting terrible combined production from the position. So why haven’t they called up top prospect Oscar Taveras, who in addition to thriving at Triple-A right now also has quite a bit of center field experience in the minors?
General manager John Mozeliak explained to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
We’d still like him to play a lot more center field, but there’s no doubt he’s playing well. I know a lot’s being made out of Oscar … coming to St. Louis, but right now I don’t even think it’s a logical thing to do.
There are a lot of question marks going on in the outfield to begin with, and I think that would muddy it up. He needs to do what he’s doing and that obviously will make it a very difficult decision at some point. But when you look at some of the guys we have here playing center field, a couple of them are pretty good players.
So it could be partly that the Cardinals aren’t ready to give up on Jay or Bourjos, the latter of whom was just acquired from the Angels for David Freese this offseason. And it’s also possible that they have questions about whether Taveras is still capable of being an asset defensively in center field following ankle problems. He’s only played four games in center field at Triple-A, so the Cardinals don’t appear to be grooming him to take over anytime soon.
Combine those factors and keeping Taveras in the minors a bit more makes some sense, but at some point it’ll be tough to keep down a 22-year-old stud prospect hitting .312 with power at age 22.
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.