Jan 01

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

I always wait until the last minute before submitting my Hall of Fame ballot. I like to take my time to study the names, consider the numbers and strain to remember games in which I saw them play. There’s just so much to consider.

Not that any one play, or game, or even season matters. It’s about careers, and to my way of thinking, dominant and clean careers. I have no problem with “compilers,’’ players who amassed their numbers because of lengthy careers. After all, players such as Don Sutton and Carl Yastrzemski had to be pretty good to win 300 games or get 3,000 hits.

CHIPPER: He got my vote. (Braves)

CHIPPER: He got my vote. (Braves)

I do have a problem with those accused of using steroids and didn’t need Joe Morgan’s email to convince me. The essence of sports is for the viewers and opposing players to believe what they are watching and whom they are competing against is true.

That’s not possible when players cheat.

So, if a player fails a drug test, is named on the Mitchell Report, or is accused on the record by a player, coach or manager, I look at that as confirmation of steroid usage. It’s not exactly an admission, but it will have to be enough for me to vote no.

My choices are:

Chipper Jones: More than simply a Met killer, he was an eight-time All-Star and a cornerstone on all those Braves teams that reached the playoffs year after year after year. He had 468 career homers, third behind Hall of Fame switch-hitters Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray.

Jim Thome: What’s not to like about his 612 homers, .402 on-base percentage and .554 slugging percentage, especially when it is done cleanly? He’s a no-brainer to me.

Vladimir Guerrero: I didn’t vote for Guerrero, but only because I voted for Lee Smith, who was in the final year of his eligibility. My thinking was Guerrero would have nine more years on the ballot to make it. But, he was named on 71.7 percent of the ballots, and I think he’ll make it this season.

Mike Mussina: I covered Mussina both with the Orioles and the Yankees, and always regarded him as a money pitcher. He pitched for 18 seasons and won at least 15 games in 11 of them. Mussina won 270 games and could have won 300 if he played another two or three seasons. He had plenty of gas left in his tank as he won 20 games for the only time in his career and pitched 200 innings in the final year of his career. He also had a 1.19 career WHIP and a 3.58 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Trevor Hoffman: I’m of the belief relievers matter and they all don’t have to be as good as Mariano Rivera. I firmly believe it Hoffman were on the Yankees instead of Rivera they would have still won those World Series.

Edgar Martinez: Being a DH shouldn’t disqualify a player from consideration. It’s a valid baseball position and shouldn’t devalue a player’s candidacy. He has a career slash line of .310/.410/.510, one of only 14 players in history to do so, and nine of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Fred McGriff: If he gets in, it will likely be from the Veterans Committee. With 493 homers – seven shy from what used to be an automatic ticket – he should be a shoo-in. There’s never been a hint of impropriety. He’s a testament to doing it the right way.

Omar Vizquel: Defense is also a part of the game, but often overlooked by the new age stats. But, if Ozzie Smith is a Hall of Famer, then so is Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove Award winner. Vizquel was far from an easy out with 2,877 career hits and a .272 batting average with a .336 on-base percentage.

Jan 02

My 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot

griffey piazza

I had intended to publicize my Official Hall of Fame ballot before Christmas, but some health issues prevented me from proceeding as planned. So here it is, without further adieu, the nine players I submitted for the Class of 2016.

1. Ken Griffey Jr. – One of the greatest players of all time and a great ambassador for the game. Staggering offensive numbers despite missing four seasons worth of games due to injuries. If healthy, he would have broken Aaron’s HR mark cleanly.

2. Trevor Hoffman – An amazing 601 saves. Put Hoffman on all those great Yankee teams and they still win all those games. When he entered a game to “Hell’s Bells” it was a spectacle.

3. Mike Piazza – It’s sad that he wasn’t a first ballot guy because some colleagues bought into unfounded rumors and accusations. One of the game’s greatest offensive catchers along with Bench and Berra who almost always delivered in the clutch.

4. Jeff Bagwell – Another no-doubt Hall of Famer who like Piazza has been victimized by suspicion. One of the most dominating first basemen in his era and for a time one of the most feared sluggers in the National League.

5. Lee Smith – He was a personal favorite of mine. I still fail to understand the criticism of people who say he’s a compiler of stats. He was a dominant closer and nearly missed winning three Cy Young awards.

6. Mike Mussina – Very underrated pitcher who won 270 games despite only winning 20 games once – in his final season in 2008. Talk about going out on top. A .638 winning percentage and a career 1.191 WHIP to go with seven Gold Gloves.

7. Edgar Martinez – Some penalize him because he was a DH, but 500+ doubles, 300+ homers, 1,200_ walks, 1,200+ RBI and a career .312/.418/.515 slash should make him a no-brainer for inclusion.

8. Fred McGriff – Just shy of 500 home runs and over 1,500 RBI back when it was still a rare feat. Nine seasons of over 140 OPS+ production and a .917 OPS in postseason play.

9. Tim Raines – One of the best leadoff hitters of all time. The Rock retired with a .385 OBP, 808 stolen bases and 1,571 runs scored.

There you go, I look forward to your comments.

Nov 09

Mets Matters: Alderson To Miss GM Meetings For Medical Procedure

Mets GM Sandy Alderson will undergo a medical procedure this week and will not attend the general manager’s meetings in Florida. The club will be represented in Florida by assistant GMs John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta.

mets-matters logo“He had a medical procedure that was scheduled for after the season ended,’’ Ricco told reporters. “Because of the playoff run, it got pushed back, and kept getting pushed and pushed – obviously for good reason. And so he was going to have it done this week.’’

Ricco would not give specifics about the procedure or whether Alderson’s fainting spell last week was related.

“At some point we’ll have more to say. I don’t want to portray that there’s something extremely urgent about it,’’ Ricco said. “He feels comfortable we’re down here. We’re a pretty veteran group. We’re capable of handling it.’’

Even had Alderson been present the Mets weren’t expected to be anything in Boca Raton, Fla., as the GM Meetings are usually for exploratory purposes, with real activity occurring in early December at the Winter Meetings.

HALL OF FAME BALLOTS MAILED: Hall of Fame ballots were mailed Monday, with Mike Piazza a headliner.

A candidate must appear on 75 percent of the ballots. Piazza appeared on 69.9 percent last year. Every candidate who garnered 69 percent of the vote were eventually elected within two years.

Those players on the new ballot include: Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Luis Castillo, Roger Clemens, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Troy Glaus, Ken Griffey, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Trevor Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Jeff Kent, Mike Lowell, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Mike Sweeney, Alan Trammell, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker and Randy Winn.

In addition to Piazza, those with Mets’ ties include: Castillo, Hampton, Kent, Sheffield and Wagner.

NO SURGERY FOR LAGARES: Ricco said center fielder Juan Lagares will not have to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Lagares’ throwing was definitely an issue last season, but instead of surgery he is expected to be put on a strengthening program.

Jan 06

Hall Of Fame Reaction

Better, but not good enough.

The results have been announced and John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson were voted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. All four were on my ballot, but I voted for six others who didn’t make the cut.

Here’s my ballot and reaction:

Craig Biggio: He should have been voted in last year. I don’t understand people downplaying his over 3,000 hits by calling him a “compiler.’’ You have to be pretty damn good for a long time to get that many hits.

Mike Piazza: I hear the steroid rumors, but a few back pimples shouldn’t be enough to disqualify him. He’s the best hitting catcher the game ever saw. The PED accusations aren’t founded and circumstantial.

Jeff Bagwell: Like Piazza, he’s done in by innuendo and it’s a shame.

Tim Raines: Isn’t he one of the three best leadoff hitters in history along with Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock? He is, and that should be his ticket.

Lee Smith: No love for him, but he’s third on the career list with over 400 saves.

Edgar Martinez: I don’t think he’ll get in and that’s too bad. Designated hitter is an official position and he did it as well as anybody.

Mike Mussina: If he hung around for another two years he would have won 300 games and this probably would have been a moot point. There were others more dominant, but Mussina was consistently good for a long time with 17 straight seasons with double-digit victories, and 11 overall with fifteen or more victories.

Randy Johnson: He was dominating and a no-brainer with over 300 victories and 4,875 strikeouts. Even so, some didn’t vote for him. Now, that’s a joke.

Pedro Martinez: I knew he’d make it with an average season of 17-8 with a 2.93 ERA and 217 innings pitched. Don’t forget three Cy Young Awards.

John Smoltz: I am really glad he got in. He was a joy to watch. He would have won over 300 games if he weren’t busy saving 154.


Jan 06

Why Didn’t The Mets Lobby For Piazza?

As a Hall of Fame voter, I received emails from several teams over the years lobbying for my vote for one of their players. Seattle wrote me about Edgar Martinez and Boston did likewise for Jim Rice.

There were others.

However, I never received a note from the New York Mets regarding Mike Piazza and I don’t know why.

Surely, it reflects positively on the organization if one of their own gets to Cooperstown. Piazza is one of the more popular players in franchise history, so where’s the love?

I can’t believe the organization doesn’t care, because they’ve gone out of their way to include him in team events in the past.

The only thing I can immediately think of is they are afraid of being embarrassed if he gets in and the PED accusations are later proven true. Or, perhaps they don’t want to be connected to a player with any chance of being linked to steroids.

I voted for Piazza and I didn’t need any lobbying from the Mets. The voting figures to be close, but early reports have Piazza falling short. The announcement will come this afternoon.

Could any stumping by the Mets closed the gap? Hopefully not, but maybe the Mets will get another chance next year.