Putting Together My Hall of Fame Ballot

With the flurry of the Winter Meetings feeling like a distant memory, many baseball writers have shifted their attention away from the hot stove league (albeit temporarily) to writing articles about the upcoming Hall of Fame vote.  As with nearly every election, there always seems to be a bit of controversy surrounding certain candidates.  Several BBWAA members will steadfastly throw their support behind a specific candidate, while the sabermetric community will write numerous articles providing myriad reasons why said candidate should not be elected and vice-versa.

While this back and forth exchange of rhetoric can sometimes be a little overwhelming, the overall net gain is positive.  Even though their performance doesn’t change during their period of eligibility, the candidates are re-examined and re-evaluated; minds are changed; and cases become more clear.  In a way, it’s somewhat of a learning process.  Mistakes are certainly made along the way with certain players getting elected that probably shouldn’t have (Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez), and others have been criminally left out in the cold despite carrying credentials that are more than adequate (Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, Dick Allen).  For the most part tough, the electorate has done a good job in selecting their inductees; albeit occasionally tardy with some.

To kick off the Hall of Fame season, I thought I’d share my theoretical Hall of Fame ballot.  I will follow the BBWAA’s criteria to the letter with the exception of the character clause.  I’ll be ignoring that one entirely.  With the number of unsavory characters already in the Hall of Fame, it seems incredibly silly to invoke it now for the purposes of passing moral judgment on known and especially suspected (but not proven) steroid users.  Since I can’t state with any certainty the degree to which steroids enhanced a player’s production, it’s difficult to penalize them accordingly.  Furthermore, there isn’t a great way to determine who did and did not do steroids without test results.  As a result, I won’t be making any assumptions.

After much consideration, I’ve decided on “voting” for six candidates from the current pool of 27 eligible players.  No one of the incoming class was selected from my ballot.

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Report: Kuroda close to signing with someone

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a mystery team!

…I heard Monday morning that Kuroda was close to agreeing to a new contract and it wouldn’t be with the Dodgers. The Seattle Mariners said it wasn’t them, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, among others, answered similarly: “Not us.”

Not surprising, I’m sure the Yankees don’t think very highly of Kuroda‘s abilities as a pitcher anyway. It’s not as though they’ve made multiple efforts to acquire him in the last 18 months or anything like that. They’re still claiming no interest in Roy Oswalt either, even as Oswalt has indicated he’s willing to sign a one-year contract.

Seriously though, we can argue ’til the end of the Earth over the merits of Yu Darvish or C.J. Wilson at the price those two commanded, but if the Yankees honestly aren’t even in the mix for Kuroda or Oswalt for only one year, it’s basically indefensible if they aren’t willing to trade any of their prospects for someone better either. Or, at least, it’s indefensible given the extent to which Brian Cashman has sworn up and down since the end of the season that he was working hard to improve the team’s starting rotation. Continue reading Report: Kuroda close to signing with someone

With the Darvish drama over, what’s next for the Yankees?

Despite the hopes of many Yankee fans, there was no surprise huge bid for Yu Darvish from the Yankee brass.  Instead, to the devastation of the Blue Jay faithful (and the cult of personality surrounding GM Alex Anthopoulos) the 25 year-old ace will be swaggering on down to Texas, assuming the Rangers can meet the demands of Darvish and agent Arn Tellem.  It is likely that the Yankees knew that they would not be the favorites to land Darvish when they submitted a lower bid, but there is no doubt that they (and other teams) were waiting for the Darvish Continue reading With the Darvish drama over, what’s next for the Yankees?

How The Cuddyer/Willingham Contracts Help Nick Swisher (And Potentially Hurt The Yankees)

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) Nick Swisher will head into the 2012 season on the last year of his current contract, one that has been incredibly friendly to the Yankees considering the production they have gotten since fleecing Kenny Williams trading for Swish prior to the 2009 season.  In typical Yankee fashion, they have not  discussed a new contract for Swish, instead choosing to pick up his 2011 option and then see where they are after the season.  That could end up working out well for Swish if he has a big year in 2012, Continue reading How The Cuddyer/Willingham Contracts Help Nick Swisher (And Potentially Hurt The Yankees)

The fine line of PED hysteria

I have to say, I was pretty shocked to see a mainstream baseball writer actually write this paragraph, in response to Victor Conte’s comments on the Ryan Braun situation yesterday:

It might be unpopular to say, but if these drugs really aid “tissue repair” and what not, it should be considered good for the game, not bad. One day, the stigma of PEDs will lessen and we’ll be encouraging our professional athletes — not punishing them — for trying to heal faster.

Not that I’ve never seen the sentiment, it’s pretty common in some circles, but the mainstream sports media is almost universally populated by PED hysterics who substitute attempts at ever increased moral scolding for nuance whenever the subject comes up. And suffice it to say, I agree with Brown completely.

Now, I’m not the expert on PED science that Larry is, so I don’t know if there are, in fact, good reasons to take collective action against these substances, or if it’s simply an issue of them being lumped in to the “they PEDS, PEDS bad” category, but my baseline of thought here is that we ought to err on the side of permissiveness where substances designed to help the body heal are concerned. Some people might argue that this is “unnatual,” and indeed it is! But there are a lot of things central to modern medicine that are unnatural.

More to the point, if there’s one thing we don’t do well in sports today, it’s differentiating between “legitimate” sports medicine and the use of substances that constitutes “cheating.” Put simply, if you think testosterone creams and the like designed to help athletes heal faster between contests should be banned, what’s the argument in favor of something like Tommy John surgery or Lasik eye surgery?

Not that this has anything to do with Braun in the short term if he did in fact use a banned substance in an attempt to break baseball’s rules, but it’s something worth keeping in the back of your mind for when that saner day arrives. Continue reading The fine line of PED hysteria

We shall not suffer (some) people who engage in (certain types of) cheating!

John Harper wants you to know that he will not support Barry Bonds’ case for the Hall of Fame, or presumably that of other known steroid users, because they are bad bad people!

But in saying here that I won’t vote for Bonds when he becomes Hall-eligible next year, let me respond to the other side of the debate with a question: Should the Hall of Fame merely be a museum of sorts that reflects the history of baseball, for better or for worse?

In that case, there’s no question that Bonds belongs. I just think the Hall should stand for more than that.

It should be an honor and a privilege to be voted into a place that represents and symbolizes baseball’s very best, and if you think of in that context, how can you vote for someone who so blatantly and arrogantly cheated the game?

I’m always sort of miffed at the really bizarre way sports writers apply the Hall’s character clause to steroid use while not seeming to even consider it for offenses that would seem to be far more serious to people with normally functioning moral compasses. Ty Cobb was a lout who brawled with fans in the stands, was a virulent racist, fought umpires, and was generally an all around horrible person. No one cares. Similarly, players of that day often sharpened their metal spikes in a deliberate attempt to cause serious physical harm to middle infielders who had the nerve to attempt to turn a double play. That’s downright monstrous, when you think about it, but nothing compared to the moral horror of injecting yourself with synthetic testosterone, apparently. If all we knew of Roger Clemens’ foibles was that he had once engaged in an affair with a 15 year old country singer, I suspect he would still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and may even challenge Tom Seaver’s record for appearing on the most ballots when elected. Throw in some steroid usage, however, and he’s history’s (second) greatest monster.

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Yanks play it smart on Darvish

It’s often said in free agency that the winner isn’t the team that lands the star player, rather the 29 teams that didn’t. It’s the nature of the system, since the top bid is typically the one that goes beyond what every other GM thinks is prudent. It’s often difficult to see this in real time amidst the hype and speculation of the free agent chase while he’s on the market, and the national media attention and celebratory press conference by the team with the winning bid. Yet we all know how few of these mega-deals work out. Once you Continue reading Yanks play it smart on Darvish

Rangers win Darvish rights with record bid

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to break the news on Twitter, but the results of the Yu Darvish bidding finally came in after hours of waiting Monday night, and the Texas Rangers have won the rights to the Japanese right-hander with a bid of $51.75 million, the largest bid ever made in the posting process. Make of that what you will. There’s no word on how much the other teams bid yet, so there’s not much to say, other than that the Rangers bid really makes a farce out of MLB’s effort to reign in player salaries by making it clear just how much cash the teams have available to spend when they want a player. Continue reading Rangers win Darvish rights with record bid

Conte on Braun: “A giant loophole”

Sorry to dive into this morass a bit, but thought this was interesting:

Were you surprised that Ryan Braun tested positive?:

“No, I was not surprised. In fact, three weeks before that, I was in Vietnam and I was interviewed by somebody from the New York Daily News. It was when the growth hormone testing was being introduced. And I don’t think growth hormone is effective as a performance enhancer. At that time, I basically said that what they’re doing is using fast-acting testosterone — creams, gels, orals, patches — and they clear so quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours. … They could conceivably, after a game, use testosterone to help with tissue repair and healing and recovery and by the time they’d show up at the park the next day, their PE ratio would be normal. I always knew there was this giant loophole that you could drive a Mack truck through.”

Do you think there will be another player implicated in this after Braun’s situation is over?:

“This is a wake-up call. … I’ve been pitching this before this Ryan Braun case broke … I said here’s the loophole: They’re using fast-acting testosterone; they’re not using anabolic steroids. … You need to use carbon isotope ratio testing and you will bust lots of people. I said a significant number of players would test positive. … Three weeks later, here’s a positive.”

Anyone else feeling like this is going to end well for Ryan Braun? Me either. Continue reading Conte on Braun: “A giant loophole”