Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Francisco Cervelli signs a three-year deal with Pittsburgh

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that the Pirates have signed catcher Francisco Cervelli to a three-year, $31 million contract extension. The deal will pay him $9 million in 2017, $10.5 million in 2018 and $11.5 million in 2019.

Cervelli, 30, was set to be a free agent after the season. He has been excellent since coming over from the Yankees before to the 2015 season, putting up a .291/.373/.384 batting line over 163 games while also providing excellent defense behind the plate particularly with pitch framing. Cervelli has had numerous injury issues in the past and was one the players caught up in the Biogenesis scandal a few years ago. But he has made himself a fixture on the Pirates and played in 130 games last season.

Braves Fire Manager Fredi Gonzalez

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It was only a matter of time. And now his time is up. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have fired Fredi Gonzalez as their manager. Brian Snitker, the club’s Triple-A manager, will step in as the interim skipper.

This was Gonzalez’ sixth season as the Braves manager. In that time he had compiled a 434-413 record. Last year, however, the Braves lost 95 games. This year they’re 9-28 and look to be one of the worst major league clubs in recent memory. Someone was bound to pay for that.

Not that the current state of affairs is of Gonzalez’ doing. The club, despite finishing in first place with 96 wins and possessing a contractually-controlled core of good young players in 2013, embarked on a wholesale rebuild last season, decimating the big league roster and punting winning on the major league level for the foreseeable future. Between that, Gonzalez not being under contract beyond this season, and the club’s clear plan of starting fresh in its new ballpark in 2017, Gonzalez’ fate was sealed before the first pitch of the season was thrown.

All of that said, Gonzalez has been a source of criticism for years, both by virtue of his following a Hall of Fame manager in Bobby Cox and suffering by comparison and because of his many tactical mistakes and multiple late season collapses from teams which were too talented to collapse, particularly in 2011.

This change will not do much to alter the Braves’ fortunes in 2016. That extraordinarily unpalatable cake has already been baked. But it will change the conversation for a time.

Watch the trailer for “Pitch,” the new show about a woman pitcher in the bigs

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In January we mentioned a new show from Fox called “Pitch.” It’s a drama about the first woman major leaguer. Yesterday a trailer for “Pitch” debuted and the plot becomes way more clear.

The main character, a pitcher, plays for the Padres. She made the bigs after what seems like some intense coaching from her father, who taught her to throw a screwball, which people in the trailer refer to as a “trick pitch,” as if Hector Santiago doesn’t exist, but we’ll let that one go.

You can tell that there will be the obvious dramatic tension you’d expect from this kind of thing. Storylines about whether what she’s doing is for herself or to please her dad. Jealousy and acrimony from teammates. Early nerves and a case of the yips. No doubt at least one teammate with a heart of gold who gets the rest of the team in line (I’m guessing the David Ross-esque catcher in the trailer). A LOT of exposition from media members playing themselves. You know the drill.

Hard to say if it’ll be a good show or a bad show. At first I thought that there was one GLARING issue: Petco Park was being shown with throngs of excited fans, and that’s simply fantastical. Then I realized that the Dodgers were the opposition in that game and it was immediately far more realistic. Also: I give Dan Lauria, who plays the Padres’ skipper, a preliminary 24 on my Most Handsome Managers list. He earned at least that much based on “Wonder Years” goodwill.

Beyond that: could be good. I dunno. I’ll give it a chance.