Jan 03

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

The New York Times recently published a story claiming baseball writers softened their stance against voting for players connected with PEDs. Well, they didn’t contact me about my ballot that does not include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa or Ivan Rodriguez, all of whom have been connected to steroids.

MUSSINA: Got my vote.(Getty)

MUSSINA: Got my vote.(Getty)

I always considered it a privilege to be a Hall of Fame voter; one I take very seriously. I always believed taking steroids was cheating.

The fundamental misconception of steroids is it enables a hitter to crush a ball 500 feet or adding a couple of feet to a fastball. That’s not it. Steroids enable a player continuing to work out when exhausted. The issue isn’t added strength but increased bat speed that generates to power. For pitchers, it heightens stamina allowing him to work longer into games.

And, for all users, there’s an increase in the confidence of better production.

There have been some reporters whose litmus test to detect cheaters was the back-acne test. Every voter has their own criteria, and I have three: 1) the player had to have failed a drug test and subsequently failed in the appeal process; 2) he had to have been mentioned in the Mitchell Report or any other MLB sanctioned investigation or report; and 3) he had to have been outed, on the record, by a player, coach or baseball official.

If the Hall of Fame changes its protocols and puts on the plaque a player used PEDs – after an admission by the athlete – then I will reconsider and vote for a user.

The following were on my ballot:

Mike Mussina:  Won 20 games for the only time in his 18-year career in his final season. Of course, he could have hung on to win 300. Won at least 15 games in 11 seasons. Won 270 games, falling 30 short of what traditionally has been automatic entry. His .638 winning percentage is sixth best among those who won 250 games. Received Cy Young Award votes nine times.

Jeff Bagwell: There have been rumors, but nothing substantiated. He garnered 71.6 percent of the vote last year – missing out by 15 votes – and every player who received at least 65 percent of the vote got in. Bagwell hit over 30 homers in nine of his 15-year career with Houston. He averaged over 100 runs scored and 100 RBI per season during his career.

Tim Raines: Is on the ballot for the final time before going to the veteran’s committee. He’s arguably one of history’s greatest leadoff hitters, joining Pete Rose, Lou Brock and Rickey Henderson. He was a lifetime .294 hitter with a .385 on-base percentage and stole 808 bases in 954 attempts (the best percentage in history at 84.7 percent).

Trevor Hoffman: A seven-time All-Star finished with 601 saves in his 18-year career. His career hits-per-innings ratio of 6.9 leads all relievers. Recorded at least 30 saves in 14 of 15 seasons and had over 40 nine times.

Lee Smith:  What is wrong with being a compiler? You have to pretty good to hang around for 18 seasons and have 13 straight years of 20-plus saves, 10 of 30-plus saves and three of 40 or more. He ranks 12th all-time in games pitched with 1,022. He ranks third all-time with 478 saves.

Edgar Martinez: Designated hitter is an official position, so why should he be penalized for playing the majority of his games there? MLB named its award for best DH in his honor. Martinez hit at least .300 in ten seasons and is one of nine players to hit 300 homers, 500 doubles, a career average over .300, a career on-base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage over .500.

Fred McGriff: This one I call a testament for hitting clean. It used to be 500 homers was automatic entry into the Hall of Fame; McGriff hit 493 in 19 seasons. He hit over 30 homers ten times and drove in at least 100 runs eight times. No whispers about him doing it the right way.

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.

Jan 08

Numbers Could Favor Piazza Next Year

Timing plays an important factor when it comes to being voted into the Hall of Fame. It was that way for Gary Carter and figures to be that way for Mike Piazza.

Piazza fell short this time, garnering 69.9 percent of the votes. It is possible he could pick up the six percentage points needed to reach 75 percent next year in what could be a thin class with Ken Griffey Jr., and Trevor Hoffman as the marquee names in their first year of eligibility.

Piazza is being painted with a broad brush linking him to the PED camp of Roger Clemens (37.5 percent) and Barry Bonds (36.8 percent). Not fair, but that’s the way it is.

Apparently, the 30 percentage points separating him from Clemens and Bonds indicate a large number of voters aren’t buying the circumstantial evidence. Piazza had 384 votes, compared to 206 for Clemens and 202 for Bonds. That’s almost double, and there certainly are enough voters currently on the fence, not to mention first-time voters next year, that might fall into Piazza’s camp.

There’s not a mathematical formula for induction, but rather a subjective analysis that includes a player’s statistics, plus the writers’ perception on a player’s character and contributions to his team and the sport.

An argument can be made as the best-hitting catcher in history Piazza should already be in. Then again, it could be a lot worse and his numbers could be down to that of Clemens and Bonds.

All in all, things are looking promising.

LATER TODAY: Mets figure to be done for the winter.

Dec 08

Mets’ Winter Meetings shopping list.

MINAYA: Will he hit one out of the park this week?

MINAYA: Will he hit one out of the park this week?

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings officially start today, but Mets GM was out last night meeting with Francisco Rodriguez’s agent. Over the next four days, Minaya is likely to have a face-to-face with Rodriguez, and other closers Brian Fuentes and Trevor Hoffman.

“I expect to leave with players,’’ Minaya said last night. “I think there’s a chance that hopefully we can get something done here.’’
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the Mets’ needs and options:

BULLPEN

The situation: The Mets blew 29 save opportunities last season, seven of them in the ninth inning. A closer is desperately needed, but so is the bridge to that closer. Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Smith and Brian Stokes are under contract for next year, so it’s not likely there will be an overhaul.

Options:
They’ve targeted Rodriguez as their first choice, but would be willing to go elsewhere if the price is right. There’s a lot to like about Rodriguez, but there are concerns with his diminished velocity and violent delivery that could make him vulnerable to injury. Fuentes would be less expensive, and Hoffman would command fewer years. Hoffman could be had for a year plus an option, and by that time the Mets might know more about Bobby Parnell and Ed Kunz. The Mets like Kerry Wood, but his injury history makes him a risk. The Mets also like Colorado’s Huston Street, but are waiting for the price to drop.

STARTING PITCHING
The situation: The Mets are three deep with Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine, but the latter is coming off surgery. That leaves two holes if they don’t bring back Oliver Perez. Jon Niese will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Options: The Mets aren’t players for CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and had targeted Scott Boras client Derek Lowe. However, his asking price is a reported $18 million, and they’ll have to compete with Boston and the Yankees. The Mets might end up overpaying for Perez, go with Niese in the fifth spot, and there’s always the chance of bringing back Pedro Martinez for a year. Brad Penny and innings-eater Livan Hernandez are also in the market.

OUTFIELD
The situation: The Mets envision a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis in left field. Their needs for pitching and the asking price would seem to preclude them from Manny Ramirez, whom they sought several years ago.

Options: Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell are out there, but the Mets don’t seem enamored with them. And, the Mets figure to hold consistent to spend on pitching before adding a bat to the line-up, that although inconsistent, still was second in the National League in scoring.

INFIELD
The situation: David Wright and Jose Reyes aren’t going anywhere, and neither will Carlos Delgado, who has a no-trade clause. Dealing Delgado merely creates another hole. The Mets would love to rid themselves of Luis Castillo’s contract.

Options: The same reason the Mets want to deal Castillo is why they won’t. An aging, injury-prone and non-productive player aren’t on many teams’ wish lists, so the Mets will retain the status quo.

CATCHER
The situation: The Mets would like to upgrade if they could from Brian Schneider, but it’s not regarded as a necessity.

Options: With other priorities, they won’t likely do anything here.

Nov 12

Available free agent relievers ….

The following relievers will be available this winter in the free-agent market. Joe Beimel and Juan Cruz are intriguing, but are they worth throwing piles of money at? I’m not so sure.

Unquestionably, the Mets’ bullpen was horrible last season, but GM Omar Minaya’s analysis is wide ranging. Were the individuals simply bad and past their prime, or just had a bad season? To what degree were injuries a factor (Aaron Heilman)? How much did throwing out of their roles determine the results?

The Mets will add a body or two from this list, but I don’t see a major overhaul. If they don’t deal Heilman, and I’m starting to lean in the direction of them keeping him, the set-up relievers might not change that much.

I can see Heilman, Schoeneweis, Ayala, Feliciano and Smith coming back. I can also see Parnell or Kunz getting a shot. Then there’s the closer they’ll add, and the more I think of it, the more I can visualize it being Trevor Hoffman.

Here’s the list of available free-agent relievers:

Jeremy Affeldt CIN
Luis Ayala NYM
Joe Beimel LAD
Joe Borowski CLE
Juan Cruz ARZ

Brendan Donnelly BOS
Alan Embree * OAK
Scott Eyre CHC
Kyle Farnsworth DET
Casey Fossum DET

Brian Fuentes COL
Aaron Fultz CLE
Tom Gordon * PHI
LaTroy Hawkins HOU
Mark Hendrickson LAD

Trevor Hoffman SD
Bobby Howry CHC
Jason Isringhausen STL
Steve Kline SF
Brandon Lyon ARZ

Damaso Marte * NYY
Tom Martin COL
Julio Mateo PHI
Guillermo Mota MIL
Will Ohman CHC

Darren Oliver LAA
John Parrish SEA
Chris Reitsma SEA
Dennys Reyes MIN
Juan Rincon CLE

Francisco Rodriguez LAA
Brian Shouse MIL
Rafael Soriano ATL
Jorge Sosa NYM
Mike Stanton * CIN

Salomon Torres * MIL
Derrick Turnbow MIL
Oscar Villarreal ATL
David Weathers CIN
Dave Williams NYM

Matt Wise NYM
Kerry Wood CHC