Dec 27

My Hall Of Fame Ballot And Reasoning

As I do every time this year, I mail in my Hall of Fame ballot. To grow up loving baseball and to vote for the Hall of Fame is a tremendous thrill. It is also a responsibility I take greatly, which is why I don’t understand the rationale of some of colleagues who use their vote as a political statement. If you don’t want to vote, then surrender your vote.

I can comprehend checking off two or three names if that’s all you believe are worthy and not the ten maximum. If you want to vote in a steroid user that’s your prerogative.

But, what I will never get is them believing, is because of the flux of steroid users that there are more than ten qualified candidates and therefore not submitting any ballot.

Just vote for your top ten and move on. Because candidates stay on the ballot based on the percentage of votes, there’s a chance worthy players will be left off. That’s blatantly unfair and penalizes deserving players.

How can you cover Major League Baseball for at least ten straight years – the requirement to vote – and you’re not able come up with a top ten? Just makes no sense.

I take pride in my vote, do a lot of research and talk to players, managers, coaches and general managers to gain input. And, it’s still hard. Here are my top ten and why:

Craig Biggio: He should have been voted in last year. Over three thousand hits. Aren’t you paying attention?

Mike Piazza: I hear the steroid rumors, but that’s all they are. Innuendo and some back acne aren’t reason enough to bar him.

Jeff Bagwell: Like Piazza, he’s not linked to steroids in any official capacity. Writers should be more responsible than to buy into rumors.

Tim Raines: Arguably one of the three best leadoff hitters in history along with Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.

Lee Smith: There’s a bias against him, but he’s third on the career list with over 400 saves.

Edgar Martinez: There’s a bias against him, also, because he’s a designated hitter. But, that’s an official position, and he was as good as anybody at it.

Mike Mussina: He could have pitched another two years and won 300 games, which is automatic entry. Seventeen straight seasons with double-digit victories, and 11 overall with fifteen or more, often pitching with inferior teams against the American League East.

Randy Johnson: A ten-time All-Star and five-time Cy Young Award winner with over 300 victories and 4,875 strikeouts. He’s a slam dunk. He also threw over 200 innings in 14 seasons.

Pedro Martinez: He was an eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner. His average season was 17-8 with a 2.93 ERA and 217 innings pitched.

John Smoltz: He won 213 games, but likely would have won over 300 if he didn’t miss the 2000 season with an injury and returned as a closer where in saved 154 games.

I did not vote for any of the players who were directly linked to steroids, either by direct testimony from other players or were mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Until the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball put a notation on their plaques they played in the steroid era and their records come with an asterisk, that will be my stand.

Dec 19

Report Has Selig Getting $6 Million Annually

An ESPN report, although not confirmed by Major League Baseball, has departing commissioner Bud Selig receiving an annual $6 million salary.

SELIG: Nice parting gift.

SELIG: Nice parting gift.

While I have no problem with MLB spending as it chooses, I find it hypocritical as the driving force of Selig’s tenure was to cut player salaries. From free agency to arbitration, Selig – always an owner at heart – acted like he had to pay each contract.

Don’t forget, Selig’s legacy includes forcing the 1994 work stoppage that lead to the killing of the World Series that year. Selig’s hardball stance called for a salary cap and revenue sharing.

The stoppage lasted through the following spring, which featured replacement players.

The damage from this labor conflict lead to bleeding losses by MLB, which it tried to fix with fabricated home run races and the steroid era. Yes, friends, that’s courtesy of Selig and the owners.

Unquestionably, MLB is enjoying its most lucrative era in history and Selig merits some praise in this windfall.

Again, its MLB’s money and it can do with it what it chooses. But, let’s not overlook the hypocrisy in Selig’s tenure. That’s also part of his legacy.

Nov 29

Initial Look At Hot Stove Season

There’s been some interesting moves this offseason, but so far Toronto and Boston have made the most noise.

I’m thinking the Mets signing Michael Cuddyer, Oakland picking up Ike Davis, Cleveland getting Shaun Marcum and Arizona signing Nick Evans won’t exactly register on the baseball Richter Scale.

SANDOVAL: Big signing by Sox. (AP)

SANDOVAL: Big signing by Sox. (AP)

However, earlier this week, Boston signed free agents Hanley Ramirez – who will move to the outfield – and third baseman Pablo Sandoval. And, today the Blue Jays acquired All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson from Oakland in what is a typical move for them – trading a star to avoid paying him the big bucks.

Donaldson elevates the Blue Jays in the AL East, as Sandoval does for the Red Sox. With the Boston and San Francisco offers comparable, just why would Sandoval leave?

What hasn’t been mentioned – and Sandoval didn’t say in his Fenway press conference – was the Giants’ plans for All-Star catcher Buster Posey. Unquestionably their best player, the Giants figure to preserve Posey by moving him from behind the plate.

But, where?

He really can’t play left field, and Brandon Belt isn’t moving off first. That leaves third base, and in a couple of years Sandoval may not have a position. So, it’s a no-brainer for Sandoval to look elsewhere, and resting as a DH and peppering line drives off that wall, he could become a .300 hitter, something he hasn’t been since 2011.

Ramirez, at 31, could be considered a gamble. For one thing, he has a recent injury history and for not exactly busting it while with the Marlins. Ramirez, once an All-Star shortstop, didn’t take to third base after the Marlins signed Jose Reyes and will play left field in Boston in the shadow of the Green Monster, which is not an easy thing to do.

The Red Sox, who were burned by the Carl Crawford signing and acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, were rescued when they dumped them on the Dodgers. They responded by winning the World Series in 2013, but are back to their free-spending ways.

We will see if they are as successful this time. However, they don’t have Cuddyer.

Oct 30

Free Agency Frenzy About To Begin; Mets Expected To Sit

The foul pop-up wasn’t even caught by Pablo Sandoval, when the question was already being asked: Will the Giants keep their free-agent third baseman?

Sandoval is one of several dozen players who became eligible for free-agency this morning, a list that includes Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields, Nelson Cruz, Hanley Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jonny Gomes. None of whom will likely play in Flushing this summer.

Of course, there is always Chris Young.

Michael Cuddyer has been linked to the Mets, but his asking price might be too steep to plug him into left field. He made $10.5 million last season, and I don’t see the Mets going that high. Especially since the Mets aren’t expected to add more than $10 million in payroll over the winter.

Here’s the list of free agents:

Catchers

John Buck, Angels
Ryan Doumit, Red Sox
Gerald Laird, Braves
Russell Martin, Pirates
Wil Nieves, Phillies
A.J. Pierzynski, Cardinals

Humberto Quintero, Mariners
David Ross, Red Sox
Geovany Soto, Athletics

First Basemen

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Corey Hart, Mariners
Lyle Overbay, Brewers

Mark Reynolds, Brewers

Second Basemen

Mark Ellis, Cardinals
Rafael Furcal, Marlins
Kelly Johnson, Orioles
Ramon Santiago, Reds

Shortstops

Clint Barmes, Pirates
Asdrubal Cabrera, Nationals
Stephen Drew, Yankees

Jed Lowrie, Athletics

John McDonald, Angels
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers

Third Basemen

Alberto Callaspo, Athletics

Jack Hannahan, Reds
Chase Headley, Yankees
Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Outfielders

Norichika Aoki, Royals
Emilio Bonifacio, Braves
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays
Endy Chavez, Mariners
Nelson Cruz,Orioles
Chris Denorfia, Mariners
Jonny Gomes, Athletics
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Scott Hairston, Nationals
Torii Hunter, Tigers
Reed Johnson, Marlins
Ryan Ludwick, Reds
Mike Morse, Giants
Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
Nate Schierholtz, Nationals
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
Josh Willingham, Royals
Chris Young, Yankees
Delmon Young, Orioles

Designated Hitters

Jason Giambi, Indians
Raul Ibanez, Royals
Victor Martinez, Tigers
Kendrys Morales, Mariners

Starting Pitchers

Scott Baker, Rangers
Chris Capuano, Yankees
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
Kevin Correia, Dodgers
Gavin Floyd, Braves
Jason Hammel, Athletics
Aaron Harang, Braves
Roberto Hernandez, Dodgers
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
Jon Lester, Athletics
Colby Lewis, Rangers
Francisco Liriano, Pirates
Paul Maholm, Dodgers
Justin Masterson, Cardinals
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mets
Brandon McCarthy, Yankees
Jake Peavy, Giants
Ervin Santana, Braves
Johan Santana, Orioles
Joe Saunders, Orioles
Max Scherzer, Tigers
James Shields, Royals
Carlos Villanueva, Cubs
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
Edinson Volquez, Pirates
Chris Young, Mariners

Right-handed relievers

Matt Albers, Astros
Burke Badenhop, Red Sox
Matt Belisle, Rockies
Jared Burton, Twins

Joba Chamberlain, Tigers
Jesse Crain, Astros
Jason Frasor, Royals
Luke Gregerson, Athletics
Kevin Gregg, Marlins
Jason Grilli, Angels
Joel Hanrahan, Tigers
Luke Hochevar, Royals
Casey Janssen, Blue Jays
Jim Johnson, Tigers
Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Nick Masset, Rockies
Jason Motte, Cardinals
Pat Neshek, Cardinals
Chris Perez, Dodgers
David Robertson, Yankees
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
Sergio Romo, Giants
Tim Stauffer, Padres
Koji Uehara, Red Sox
Jose Veras, Astros
Jamey Wright, Dodgers

Left-handed relievers

Joe Beimel, Mariners
Phil Coke, Tigers
Neal Cotts, Rangers
Scott Downs, Royals
Zach Duke, Brewers
Tom Gorzelanny, Brewers
Rich Hill, Yankees
Andrew Miller, Orioles
Franklin Morales, Rockies
Joe Thatcher, Angels

Oct 29

Who Really Cares About The Ratings?

Word is the ratings for this World Series have been among the lowest ever. Probably because San Francisco and Kansas City aren’t marquee franchises.

Funny, but hasn’t Major League Baseball’s biggest argument for revenue sharing was to give the “small market’’ teams a chance at being competitive?

The Bay Area is a substantial market, but the Giants aren’t the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Red Sox, the so called glamour teams.

All along, MLB has been clamoring for competitive balance and when they get it, the gripe is nobody is watching.

Major League Baseball isn’t happy about this pairing, and FOX Sports isn’t happy. And, the fans of tomorrow and the elderly fans aren’t happy because the games are on too late.

Hopefully, somebody is enjoying this Series. Ratings? I don’t care about ratings. All I know is I am watching.