My brother used to like to go through old junkyards, because he was convinced that if he looked under the seats of an old rusted out junker he’d find a 1952 Mickey Mantle card or something. I used to tell him he was crazy, and maybe he was. But he was adamant that if you looked hard enough through junk, you’d eventually find treasure. I don’t know if he ever will, but you have to admire his optimism.
And maybe it’s warranted optimism. Because a lot of baseball memorabilia, knickknacks, oddities and collectibles have basically vanished. Today at Fox’s JABO, Erik Malinowski writes about several of them that have simply vanished. Things like The homer run ball Bill Mazerowski hit in the 1960s World Series. Joe Jackson’s admission in the Black Sox scandal. Even a giant statue of Babe Ruth:
It is these little moments, the moments that go beyond sheer happenstance and more toward outright serendipity, that make the history of baseball so richly compelling. And when you stop and consider that there is a whole other layer of lost knowledge that doesn’t make it into most of the mainstream books, that’s when you realize that any time you open a dusty trunk and rummage through a backwoods yard sale, there’s always that one-in-a-million chance you’ll stumble upon something greater.
Maybe the Ruth statue wouldn’t fit in a dusty trunk or under the seats of a car in a junkyard, but the idea still holds. Good read.
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.