George Steinbrenner AP

Great Moments in “If the Boss were alive”

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Andrew Sullivan often mentions the fact that when he was a reporter at the New Republic his editor, Michael Kinsley, would say that he wished he had a single key on his computer that he could press before even reading an article that would delete all semicolons and replace them with a period and automatically capitalize the next word. Why? Because, Kinsley thought, semicolons were useless crutches which enabled bloated, aimless prose and served to prevent the writer from actually saying something useful, clear and succinct.

If I ever seriously mess up in life and find myself editing some Yankees columnist, I’d want a key that automatically deletes any variation of “If George Steinbrenner were alive” and replace it with the words “[columnist] is ill today. He will return next week.”

The latest abuser of this shopworn cliche of Yankees analysis: Bill Madden:

If George Steinbrenner were alive, you know there would be some kind of shakeup. Heads would roll somewhere. Changes — if nothing else for the sake of changes — would be in the offing.

That’s the difference between a regular columnist and a Spink Award-winning columnist like Madden. The Spink Award guy has the guts and job security to add the “heads would roll” cliche to the “if the Boss were still alive” cliche. He throws it all out there.

In other news, Steinbrenner is still dead. And even when he was alive, he had spent the last 15 years or so running a Yankees team with managerial and executive stability nearly unrivaled in all of baseball. Why? Because he changed and matured and realized that he couldn’t do things like he did back in 1982 and be successful anymore.

If only New York columnists could do that.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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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.

Michael Bourn to miss four weeks with a broken finger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 6:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles looks out of the dugout as he waits to get on deck to bat during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 6, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.

The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.

Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.