Monday, December 11, 2006


I vowed this year not to go on and on about every last free agent signing or trade because this isn't a news site and we're not about that sort of stuff. We have forums for that sort of thing anyway but, as always, the off-season Yankee machine rumbles on and its always worth a laugh.

It seems like every year Yankee fans are convinced their team will pick up every big name free agent and make deals to bring all the best players to New York (I'm surprised I haven't heard a Giambi for Santana rumour yet such is the extent of the hyperbole). So far they were convinced they would get Matsuzaka and they lost out (to Boston no less in a ridiculous move), soon they'll be convinced Roger Clemens is coming back to town and they might even think that Josh Phelps will finally start slugging 40 HR after arriving in the Rule 5. However, they have made one genuinely great signing and no one really made much noise about it before it happened.

Signing Andy Pettitte is probably the best free agent pick up they could have really made when all this off-season shake up began. Not only is he a known commodity (unlike over priced Japanese enigmas), he has also shown he can do it in the meat grinder that is New York and do it in the big games. Of course he's also a lefty starter and they tend to revel in Yankee Stadium and New York needed genuine quality starters (as opposed to a dearth of average to good pitching from rotation to the pen...except Mo of course). How many other members of this years free agent class tick that many boxes?

Of course now they've made the sensible signing the rumour mill will likely switch back to cloud cuckoo land and who knows, they may very well make a move for Barry Zito and save Texas from making a huge mistake (fly balls may lan in Oakland but they don't in Arlington) and revert back to the same plan that has kept them from post-season success in recent years. Who knows? The Yankee rumour mill ploughs on.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

2007 Hall of Fame Ballot

I know these were announced a while back now but I've been busy, OK?

Here's my basic run-down of the folk on the ballot and my opinions on whether they'll make it now or in the future.

Tony Gwynn
Who's the greatest hitter of all time, Cobb or Gwynn? Or, to put it another way, who else in the history of the game can seriously be compared to Cobb as a hitter?

Quite frankly I see Gwynn as the greatest player of my lifetime and only a fixation with the long ball stops people agreeing with me. Only Cobb is in his league when it comes to consecutive batting crowns and batting titles full stop. His .338 career average is 20th all time and only Ruth, Williams and Gehrig can top it in the live ball era.

A perrenial Gold Glover, All Star, Silver Slugger and MVP candidate and could have had a .400 season if not for the strike. On top of that he scored runs, drove them in and stole bases and was a worthy Roberto Clemente Award winner (one of the great characters any sport has ever had).

If I could vote for these things I'd vote for Gwynn at least five times on the one ballot. He's definately in and deserves to test Tom Seavers' record for percentage of votes cast.

Cal Ripken
Personally I think he was always over-rated due to the streak (which should have ended way before he went past Gehrig) but you can't deny he had a great career.

A two time MVP who changed people perceptions of what to expect from a shortstop (some would say revolutionise but I wouldn't). The new wave of offence first shortstops with just enough D to get by were all inspired by this guy.

His popularity with the press will see he gets a huge number of votes.

Mark McGwire
The numbers say he should be a lock. The effect he had on the game after the strike says he should be a 90% vote getter as few players could be considered to have had as huge an impact as McGwire, but the steroids issue will cloud the perspectives of many people and its not even certain if he'll get enough votes to get on next years ballot (he likely will).

Personally, I feel he deserves to be in as no matter what substances he took, he still had a massively positive impact on baseball at a very rough time and you can always argue that the stuff he was taking wasn't strictly speaking illegal back then.

I doubt he'll get in this time round, and he might have to wait a few years but by hook or by crook he'll get in, even if it takes the veterans commitee to do it.

Harold Baines
Now here's a tricky one, Harold Baines is #1 in most of the stat categories for DH's and has had a very good career but is it a HoF career?

His career average of .289 took a massive hit in his later years as he became an old man trying to hang with the kids. In his prime he was a true professional hitter who would hit .300 with discipline and power and got himself the odd vote on MVP ballots.

So will he get in? I doubt it this time. It'll even be tough for him to be voted in during the coming years but I'd like to think he'll get in one day as maybe a pioneer of the full time DH. He's one of those guys who you feel deserves something for his career but you're not quite sure what.

Jose Canseco
This guy will never make it. You can say McGwire cheated but Canseco cheated and really tried to take the game down with him.

As entertaining as it was to watch him patrol the outfield and as outstanding a feat it was to become the first 40/40 player, the guy was a scumbag.

Bret Saberhagen and Paul O'Neill
I would love these guys to get in as both had great careers whose contributions outweighed their numbers but as beloved as these two were, can we really say they were HoF'ers?

These two will be immortalised by enough fans memories that the Hall of Fame doesn't really need to.

Devon White, Tony Fernandez, Jay Buhner
All three of these guys would make a Spurious Hall of Fame (I'll have to think about putting that together).

I remember I was incredibly annoyed when Devo left the Jays (although not as annoyed as when Alomar left soon after). He was a phenomenal outfielder who was only robbed of starting a World Series triple play by a napping umpire who blew the call. He had a a bit of power, a bit more speed and was just a very cool player.

Tony Fernandez was the best turf shortstop not called Ozzie Smith and still had time to be a great situational hitter and a key component of some great teams.

Who else remembers Jay Buhner day at The Kingdome? Men, women and children all going to the ballpark with shaven heads and goatees (some more convincing than others). Few players have ever been as loved by the fans as he was and it was very sad the way his career ended so abruptly.

Buhner was a key component on one of the very best offensive line-ups ever assembled.

Eric Davis and Bobby Witt
Both these guys looked like potential HoF'ers early on in their careers but were side tracked by injuries. I doubt either will stay on the ballot long.

Bobby Bonilla, Dante Bichette, Wally Joyner, Scott Brosius
Brosius will keep his legacy thanks to some clutch performances in the World Series for one of the great teams in history but these guys will likely not get much attention...unless you count Bonilla's bowling average which is allegedly very good.

...returning once again to the ballot

Don Mattingly
Face it people, he's just not good enough. You don't get in for being a great defensive first baseman.

Andre Dawson
Hurt himself by playing too long and ending his career with some duff years but for the majority of his career he was a true five tool player who was always amongst the leaders in every stat that counts. In my mind he should have been in the HoF years ago.

Jack Morris
He should be putting in maybe the greatest performance by any pitcher ever in one of the greatest games ever (if you don't know what game I'm referring to then shame on you). For the rest of his career he was the ace of some great teams and was generally up there with everyone in most catergories for most of his career and 254 career wins is good enough for him to be a marginal guy who just gets in.

Bert Blyleven
Truly baffling why this guy isn't in. I can sort of understand Morris and Dawson not having been voted in but a guy with 287 wins and 3701 K's (5th all time)? It beggars belief. Just vote him in and lets be done with it, he makes the voters look stupid.

Orel Hershiser
I thought this guy would be easy to make a case for but I've just looked at his numbers and 204 wins isn't that impressive. Of course, in his prime with the Dodgers he was as good as it got and his consecutive scoreless innings streak was amazing but it's tough looking at his whole career to say he had the longevity to be in the Hall. He certainly had the class but is that enough?

Albert Belle
Albert might have been one of the biggest tossers ever to take the field but he was an outstanding player. For a career he average 40 HR every 162 games and 381 career longballs and 1239 RBI is exceptional for a 12 year career.

1995 might have seen Belle put together one of the truly great seasons any individual has ever had. In a strike shortened season of 143 games, he still hit 50 homeruns and had 52 doubles to go with it. Add to that 121 runs, 126 RBI and a .317 average. If he had even the slightest amount of pleasantness in him people would be considering him.

Jim Rice, Rich Gossage, Lee Smith, Tommy John, Steve Garvey, Alan Trammell, Dave Parker, Dave Concepcion, Dale Murphy
I could go into greater detail but I've been writing too long now. Suffice to say these guys aren't getting in. They are just not quite good enough. You could make a case for Gossage and Smith if people are going to cut closers a little slack but I don't think either will really stand up against the new generation of full time closers that have emerged since Eckersley's days.