The Arizona Diamondbacks just couldn’t help themselves. They just had to get rid of 25-year-old right fielder Justin Upton this offseason, and they finally found the right deal, which appeared to be any deal when the sent the potential MVP-candidate to Atlanta, with third baseman Chris Johnson, for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill on Thursday afternoon.
Upton, a two-time All-Star who finished 4th in NL MVP voting in 2011, is due $38.5 million between 2013 and 2015 before he reaches free agency. Considering the Diamondbacks thought that Cody Ross was worth $9.5 million per season from 2014 through 2016 (when he’ll turn 35), it seems completely unreasonable that the team felt that Upton wasn’t worth $12.8 million per season over the next three years before he turns 27 and can cash in again. Ross had a fine 2012 season, but is the potential that Upton brings not worth the extra $3.3 million that they would have paid Upton per season, had they not signed Ross to join an already-crowded outfield?
While B.J. Upton has been quite unpredictable when it comes to his consistency, he was still worth a five-year, $75.25 million deal this winter. It just seems unreasonable for the Diamondbacks to have rid themselves of the talented, young slugger, given his 108 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and .832 OPS in his six seasons, Kirk Gibson, the Diamondbacks’ manager, or Kevin Towers, their General Manager, must have had some personal belief that Upton wasn’t going to improve.
Maybe someone in Arizona should read what Keith Law thinks of Upton’s 2012 season:
Upton has some of the best bat speed and the strongest wrists in the game, generating hard contact and easy power, similar to Andrew McCutchen when he’s squaring up the ball consistently. In 2012, Upton’s timing was off for much of the year, and he was popping up a lot of pitches on the inner half that, the year before, he would have driven to the left-center gap or out of the park. Much of this probably was tied to a thumb injury he suffered in the third game of the season but never addressed with time off. Hand injuries of any sort tend to sap power by reducing a hitter’s ability to make hard contact, and that was a major issue for Upton all year.
Martin Prado is a solid major-leaguer, one of the better contact hitters in all of MLB, but he certainly shouldn’t have been a centerpiece to a Justin Upton trade. Randall Delgado, who turns 23 in February, has a solid 3.95 ERA over 127.2 innings and he has the potential to become a solid No.2 or No.3 starter for Arizona. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Diamondbacks will flip Nick Ahmed, with a pitching prospect, to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello. Spruill has back-end starter or long relief in his future, while Drury has struggled to make consistent contact and lacks plate discipline.
The package that the Diamondbacks received from Atlanta was a far cry from the offer that the Seattle Mariners supposedly made (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, and Stephen Pryor), but you can’t blame Arizona since Upton had the ability to veto the trade, and he did.
The Diamondbacks have made some interesting moves this winter, dumping Upton today and Trevor Bauer earlier this winter in their three-way deal with Cincinnati and Cleveland. Were these deals purging of players that weren’t willing to mold to the goals of management at the expense of acquiring equal talent in return? It certainly looks that way on paper.
Upton apparently needed a change of scenery and the Diamondbacks seemed to do whatever it took, even taking a lesser offer, to help make that happen. The team was forced to make the deal when they signed Cody Ross and as the season crept closer, Upton’s value and his potential suitors seemed to be dwindling. Unfortunately, this offer was probably the best that they could do, and it is another example of indecisiveness and a lack of direction for a team that appeared to have built a strong minor league system to match production at the major league level in recent seasons.
I have written here several times (10/11/11, 5/20/11, and 7/30/11) about Domonic Brown and the terrible mishandling of the talented, young outfielder by the Philadelphia Phillies. Still just 25 years old, Brown faces another uphill battle with Phillies’ management signing Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal on Tuesday.
Young adds a right-handed element to the Phillies crowded outfield, as he joins Brown, John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix, Darin Ruf, and Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte as possible corner outfielders. Only Ben Revere seems locked into a job in center, with the other six men fighting for two spots.
While Rotoworld stated that Brown will likely see most of his at-bats in right field, you have to wonder if Ruben Amaro, Jr. is going to actually stick to that. He is the same man who said that Brown needed another full season in Triple-A in 2012, only to give the outfielder another up and down season with just 187 major league at-bats and 220 at-bats for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
While Brown is not Jason Heyward, the two were likened to each other at times coming up through the minor leagues. The major difference: Heyward was given an opportunity in Atlanta after posting a .953 OPS over three levels (as high as Triple-A) in 2009, earning the every day right field job in Atlanta in 2010. In 2009, Brown also went through three levels (as high as Double-A), while posting an .880 OPS. He hasn’t received his opportunity yet
Over the last three seasons, Brown now has 465 at-bats in Triple-A and 433 at-bats in the majors. Considering 500 at-bats is the norm for an everyday player, why has Brown been riding the bench in Philadelphia instead of getting everyday at-bats, and if he isn’t ready, why is he not in Lehigh Valley full-time instead of sharing outfield duties with Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco over the last few years?
The Phillies have played with their talent a bit too much, here, and for a team that has so quickly aged with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard leading the offense, they needed to actually give Brown the job and see what he could do, allowing him to prove that he is a failure instead of miscasting him as one without a full opportunity to prove the theory wrong.
While the Phillies rely on Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee to win them so many games in 2013, it is still questionable as to whether the team is going to rely on Domonic Brown. After signing Delmon Y0ung, it looks like the one-time No.4 prospect in all of baseball will have to prove himself and fight for at-bats among a group of less talented peers.
Brown still has value and for a team that seems to have no interest in building around him or giving him an opportunity, perhaps it is time to deal him for a pitcher that doesn’t cost $30 million per season or a younger position player who isn’t earning nearly three times what they are worth, like Rollins, Utley, and Howard.
Major League Baseball has lost one of its true legends in Stan Musial, a Hall of Famer in every senese and a man who led a great American life. He was the heart and soul of the historic St. Louis Cardinals franchise for generations, and he served his country during World War II. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, Stan’s life embodies baseball’s unparalleled history and why this game is the national pastime.
As remarkable as ‘Stan the Man’ was on the field, he was a true gentleman in life. All of Major League Baseball mourns his passing, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, admirers and all the fans of the Cardinals.
It is amazing, in the age of recognizing immediate achievement over the long-term success of players, how quickly people turn away their focus from Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Albert Pujols, and David Ortiz for the next big thing. How quick were some voters to write-off Miguel Cabrera‘s performance in 2012, a Triple Crown season, because of the tremendous first season that Mike Trout produced.
Greatness in consistency is overlooked so often in baseball. Certainly, while Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa were off belting numerous home runs in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, the names of Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, and other non-juiced power-hitters (show me something that shows that they were), seemed to be forgotten, even in Hall of Fame voting today.
Stan Musial was consistently great, posting a career slash of .331/.417/.559, a career OPS of .976.
Did you think what Mike Trout did in 2012 was special? His .963 OPS was still lower than Musial’s CAREER OPS, which he put together over 22 seasons.
His 162-game average would leave him with 39 doubles, 25 home runs, 104 RBI, and 328 total bases. Using a WAR calculator, Musial’s average season was worth a 6.0 WAR and he would be worth $26.9 million in salary. Musial’s typical season was between All-Star and MVP level, which makes sense, as he appeared in 20 All-Star games and won three NL MVP awards.
Using WAR as a measuring tool for the value of a player may be relatively new, but it helps to put things into perspective over the long-haul. Taking a look at Musial’s career over the history of the game, WAR places “The Man” as the 12th best player of all-time. Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Barry Bonds, Walter Johnson, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Roger Clemens, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, and Rogers Hornsby rank ahead of Musial, with Ted Williams sliding in right behind him. Taking away the two Steroid Era players would put Musial as the 10th best player of all-time.
Musial has 6.96 MVP shares, second only to Bonds and his 9.30. Musial had 6,134 career total bases, second only to Aaron and his 6,856. Looking at most statistics, Musial isn’t first in anything, but he is right there near the top:
- 7 NL Batting Titles
- .331 career batting average, 30th all-time
- .417 on-base percentage, 22nd all-time
- .559 slugging percentage, 19th all-time
- .976 OPS, 13th all-time
- 3,026 games played, 6th all-time
- 1,949 runs scored, 9th all-time
- 3,630 hits, 4th all-time
- 725 doubles, 2nd all-time
- 177 triples, 19th all-time
- 475 home runs, 28th all-time
- 1,951 RBI, 6th all-time
- 2,253 singles, 18th all-time
- 1,599 walks, 13th all-time
- 1,377 extra-base hits, 3rd all-time
Musial wasn’t the career leader in home runs, he doesn’t have the most MVP awards, and he isn’t recognized in the same breath as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams as the greatest hitters of all-time, at least not by many. In fact, my wife, who has become quite the baseball aficionado since succumbing to my strange fanaticism and obsession, didn’t know who Musial was, even after watching Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary.
Stan “The Man” Musial was one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. He served our country, missing the 1945 season (his age-24 season) while serving in the military, returning in 1946 to hit .365 while winning his 2nd MVP award. His career is an example of an elite talent, containing 22 years of tremendous success, with numbers that show remarkable skill with longevity.
Musial was a legend. A treasure to the game of baseball. An example of courage and determination. With his passing, it is necessary for those who didn’t know how special he was to take a second and put it all together.
It is time for baseball fans to take a glimpse out onto the field in the 2013 season and look at those aging players like Jeter, Ortiz, and Rivera, and know just how special they were during their great careers. While it is enticing to get caught up in the hype of the young talent in MLB, these players are gone so soon. Greatness on the diamond creates stories that can be passed down from generation to generation, allowing for all people to recognize the impact that a single player has on the game.
With Musial’s passing, fans need to commemorate the achievements of the legends that are immortalized in Cooperstown, focusing not on comparing Bryce Harper to Stan Musial, but just on how special Musial was.
Last year, the Seattle Mariners finished 75-87, last place in the AL West, a spot that they have held for seven of the last ten years. What are the Mariners doing to build a contender?
The club is loaded with pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer, and James Paxton, and they have collected some fine offensive prospects, like Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, and Brad Miller along the way. With Jesus Montero being added last season and the ascension of Dustin Ackley to the majors, you would think that the Mariners were building for a run in 2015.
However, that can’t be the case after the club has traded for Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, both free agents after the 2013 season. While the club gave up John Jaso to get Morse and Jason Vargas to get Morales, the Mariners left themselves with some question marks.
With Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Blake Beaven penciled into the rotation, the club may have to rely on Hector Noesi, Hultzen, or Paxton in the rotation to start the year. Noesi was 2-12 with a 5.82 ERA for the M’s in 2012, Hultzen was just 1-4 with a 5.92 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts in 2012, and Paxton would be jumping to the majors from Double-A. While Vargas isn’t close to being considered an ace, the Mariners will have a tough time replacing the 217 innings and 3.85 ERA that he provided last year.
After trading Jaso to Oakland, the Mariners only have Jesus Montero at catcher. Montero, who turned 23 in November, caught in just 56 games in 2012, throwing out 17 percent of base runners and posting a -8 Rtot (runs below average that he was worth defensively). While his bat has great potential, Montero is not an everyday catcher at the major league level.
There are two examples of their everyday lineup that I have found:
C: Montero C: Montero
1B: Morse 1B: Smoak
2B: Ackley 2B: Ackley
3B: Seager 3B: Seager
SS: Ryan SS: Ryan
LF: Ibanez LF: Morse
CF: Gutierrez CF: Gutierrez
RF: Saunders RF: Saunders
DH: Morales DH: Morales
Example one is eliminating Justin Smoak from the equation. Smoak has over 1,200 at-bats and has a career slash of .223/.306/.377 line, but he is just 26 years old and he posted a .341/.426/.580 in September, showing a glimpse of what he can do when he is healthy, and he has battled a thumb issue for the last couple of seasons.
Example two eliminates Raul Ibanez from the lineup. Ibanez has had great success in Seattle, having played 10 of his 17 seasons with the Mariners, but at the age of 41, he may just be a situational talent.
The Mariners could really use a catcher. If the club was able to deal Smoak to Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway, the Mariners could then move Montero to DH, Morales to first, and Morse can play left field. The Red Sox only have Mauro Gomez at first base right now, so the deal would make sense for both clubs, as the Sox have David Ross and whatever catcher they don’t trade to roster.
The M’s could also rush Mike Zunino, who was the top college player in last year’s MLB draft. Zunino could take over at catcher, allowing for the same moves with Morales and Morse as above, while the club could keep Smoak around in case of an injury. Zunino had 51 at-bats in Double-A last year, so he could use some more seasoning in the minors, but he could be a better option behind the plate than Montero already.
Regardless of the moves at catcher that the Mariners could make, the additions that the club has made have not been stellar.
Morse has a powerful bat but he has issues making contact, having posted a 223:52 K:BB while hitting 49 home runs over 928 at-bats over the last two seasons. Turning 31 years old in March, Morse has two seasons with a WAR over 1.0 (1.2 in 2010 and 3.1 in 2011), so one has to wonder if his 2011 season (with 31 home runs and a .910 OPS) was his peak.
Ibanez is not a player that a rebuilding team needs. His age and declining skills limit his potential.
Morales rebounded nicely after missing nearly two years due to injury, posting a .787 OPS. In 2009, Morales posted a .924 OPS and he had an .833 OPS in 2010 prior to his celebratory injury. Is the drop in production due to his injury, timing issues due to being away from the game, or pressing to hit at the levels that he did in 2009? Can he reach those numbers when he is playing half of his games in Seattle?
Add in the interest that the Mariners have in Justin Upton and the supposed offer (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush) that they made, and the team seemingly has no long-term or short-term direction. The Mariners pitching, as it stands, is questionable at best. If the team is rebuilding, why would they offer two of their top five prospects instead of cashing in on any of their veterans that have value, even Felix Hernandez?
While John Jaso and Jason Vargas aren’t superstars, you have to wonder if the club would have been better off with the two players still on their roster. While they wouldn’t have made many moves to improve upon their last place finish from 2012, the Mariners wouldn’t have question marks all over the field like they do right now.
The Washington Nationals won 98-games in 2012, winning the NL East and solidifying themselves as, potential, perennial contenders in coming seasons. They got to where they are through fantastic drafts, taking advantage of their miserable seasons to take on generational talents by adding Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper as No. 1 overall picks.
General Manager Mike Rizzo has also gambled on talented players like Anthony Rendon, Matt Purke, and Alex Meyer in more recent drafts, accruing valuable commodities to trade or plug into the major league roster.
Pitching was the name of the game for the Nats in 2012, though, regardless of the arrival of Harper, as Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler, and Strasburg all posted ERAs lower than 3.40, while the bullpen posted a 3.23 ERA, good for 7th in MLB.
Drew Storen returned from an elbow injury in mid-July and solidified the back-end of the bullpen, posting a 2.37 ERA over 37 appearances, while Tyler Clippard was solid as the closer most of the season, saving 32 games.
With such weak options on the left-handed side, the Nationals needed to spend the reported two-years, $28 million on Rafael Soriano…or did they?
Soriano is a great relief pitcher, having closed out 42 games with a 2.26 ERA in 2012 for the New York Yankees; however, the Nationals didn’t need a closer.
Drew Storen closed 43 games in 2011, posting a 2.75 ERA. He has been the “closer of the future” since being drafted 10th overall in the 2009 MLB draft out of Stanford.
I wrote in July of 2011 about the young, cost efficient closers who were coming up through the majors, including Neftali Feliz, Craig Kimbrel, Storen, John Axford, Jordan Walden, and Sergio Santos. With Jim Johnson and his $2.625 million salary in 2012 closing 51 games, Fernando Rodney and his $1.75 million salary in 2012 closing 48 games, Kimbrel and his $580,000 salary in 2012 closing 42 games, and Jason Motte and his $1.95 million salary in 2012 closing 42 games, why would the Nationals spend the money that they did on Soriano instead of signing a free agent like lefties Rich Hill, Will Ohman, or J.C. Romero, or right-handers like LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon, or Juan Carlos Oviedo?
With the lack of solid left-handed free agents, the Nationals have been rumored to be interested in Javier Vazquez, who will be pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic after taking the 2012 season off. By adding Vasquez to the rotation, the Nationals could move Detwiler to the bullpen to become the dominant, left-handed reliever in the group, while still having a great starting five.
Regardless of who the Nationals add or have added this offseason, they may have needed Soriano to solidify a bullpen that has been decimated by free agency, questionable or not.
Mike Trout had, possibly, the greatest season that any rookie could have ever had in 2012. Taking into consideration that Trout didn’t play in his first game with the Los Angeles Angels until April 28 and he only played in 139 games while compiling:
- 129 Runs (1st in MLB)
- 49 Stolen Bases (1st in MLB)
- 10.7 WAR (1st in MLB)
- .326 Batting Average (2nd in the AL)
- .564 Slugging Percentage (3rd in the AL)
- .399 On-Base Percentage (3rd in the AL)
- .963 OPS (2nd in the AL)
- 171 OPS+ (1st in the AL)
- 315 Total Bases (6th in the AL)
One All-Star Game, One Silver Slugger, One Rookie of the Year, and finishing 2nd in the AL MVP voting, if only because Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years, were just icing on the cake for Trout.
When you look at player ratings all over the internet, whether it’s ESPN, CBS Sports, or Sports Illustrated, Mike Trout is right at the top. Is he really a top five player in fantasy baseball? In “real” baseball?
Clearly, it was hard to see many flaws in the 2012 season that Trout completed, but consider this:
- Trout’s BABIP was .383. Considering that the “normal” BABIP is .300, this figure is highly inflated.
- Trout’s strikeout rate was 21.8 percent. When you look at Albert Pujols and his career 9.6 percent career rate, Ryan Braun and his 17.9 percent career rate, Miguel Cabrera and his 17.1 percent career rate, or Josh Hamilton and his 19.7 percent career rate, and you have to wonder if Trout can maintain success if he isn’t getting lucky with where the ball lands (see his inflated BABIP) and he isn’t making contact.
- Can his speed last a full season and can he stay healthy in a full season, based on how everyone has seen him play? Trout managed 22 infield hits in 2012. If you take those away, due to a leg or foot injury, Trout would have hit .286.
It seems very unrealistic to expect that Trout will only improve on his numbers from 2012 going forward. The last Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Fred Lynn, had some struggles in his career. Take a look at his first three seasons:
Lynn was a tremendous talent, returning to glory in 1979, when he posted a .333/.423/.637 line, with 42 doubles, 39 home runs, and 122 RBI for Boston, but prior to that, he regressed significantly from his rookie year production.
Fred Lynn never lived up to the hype that he created in his dynamic rookie season, despite being a very productive player, being eliminated from the Hall of Fame ballot after his second year of eligibility, after receiving just 4.7 percent of the vote in 1997.
Calling Mike Trout the next Fred Lynn is not an insult, as anyone who plays 17 seasons and is a part of nine All-Star games is a fantastic player. The issue is that Mike Trout has unrealistic expectations being placed on him going into the 2013 season. Bill James has Trout going:
.325/.402/.564 with 122 runs, 30 home runs, 87 RBI, and 53 stolen bases, while maintaining an inflated .379 BABIP.
Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano should be expected to maintain their career norms, but fantasy baseball players could be making a huge mistake by taking Trout 1st overall in 2013. While the skills and tools are there for the 21-year-old to continue thriving and become a future Hall of Famer, he will need to repeat his 2012 numbers for several seasons before being labeled the top player in baseball.
Is he the most exciting player in baseball…absolutely. Should everyone subscribe to MLB.TV to have an opportunity to tune in a few times per season…definitely. Are we asking too much for a 21-year-old to become the face of an entire league…without question.
Ian Kennedy has posted some pretty solid numbers over his career, going 46-30 with a 3.76 ERA over 112 games (110 starts). Having been around since 2007, when he came up with the Yankees, it is easy to forget that Kennedy is just 28 years old, with a lot of time left to become a useful pitcher, whether that is in real life or fantasy baseball. The only issue is, which Ian Kennedy is the real Ian Kennedy?
As a New York Yankee farm hand, Kennedy was totally lights-out, going 19-6 with a 1.95 ERA over 46 games (43 starts), posting a 273:77 K:BB in 248.2 innings. In 2007, Kennedy jumped to the majors for three starts in September, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA over three starts and 19 innings. Kennedy wasn’t so good in 2008, going 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA over 10 games (9 starts) before being banished to the minors (all the way to the Gulf Coast League), where he worked on some things and earned a start on August 8, which didn’t go very well. Kennedy would make just one more appearance in the majors with the Yankees before a blood clot, which needed surgery, was found in his throwing shoulder. He was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks, as part of a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers, on December 8, 2009 in a deal involving Curtis Granderson, Max Scherzer, and Edwin Jackson.
Once with Arizona, Kennedy’s career took off. In 2010, Kennedy stayed healthy, starting 32 games and tossing 194 innings while going 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP and posting a 168:70 K:BB. Then, 2011 was the breakthrough…
Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP over 222 innings, posting a 198:55 K:BB. Kennedy finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting (behind Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee), while earning MVP votes, finishing 14th. At the age of 26, Kennedy was poised to take the step to become one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball…
Only in 2012, things weren’t as positive for Kennedy, as he went 15-12 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP, while posting a 187:55 K:BB in 208.1 innings.
While Kennedy’s 2011 season was a great step towards stardom, is he the pitcher that he was then or what he was in 2012…or somewhere in between, such as 2010?
Take a look at some statistics:
Kennedy’s ERA, WHIP, xFIP, HR/9, and LOB% were all at career bests in 2011. In 2012, Kennedy’s BABIP was higher than the league average, which is .300, but is that enough to say that he was unlucky or was he just lucky in earlier years in Arizona?
If 2011 was an aberration, then Ian Kennedy is more likely to post a 3.90 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP over 200 to 220 innings. But…if Kennedy maintains his strikeout rate and his BABIP falls to his career average, .280, could Kennedy return to the 2011 form, or at least post an ERA closer to 3.00 than 4.00 and a WHIP closer to 1.10 rather than 1.20 or 1.30?
At 28, Sabermetrics guru Bill James sees Kennedy as more of the 2011-version, having the right-hander go 13-10 with a 3.49 ERA over 214 innings in his projections. Based on Baseball Reference’s Similarity Scores, Kennedy is most similar to Tommy Hanson, Clay Buchholz, Mark Prior, and Mat Latos. Due to some injury concerns for a few of those players, fans of the Diamondbacks certainly hope that Kennedy can come up with a new group of pitchers to be ranked with, and if he has another season like 2011, he could do that pretty easily.
ESPN.com reported that only Craig Biggio was likely to be voted into Cooperstown when the ballots were official on Wednesday. Like all ESPN information, they used their own voters, all 18 of them, to determine how the other 560-plus voters would feel, using their small sample size to create a great generalization. Biggio missed out in 2013 and there won’t be any players voted in for the 2013 season after the Hall of Fame vote became public at 2 PM on January 9.
I am not a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and I am not sure that I will ever be; however, if I eventually get there, I know that I will fight to make a point with my vote: to vote for players who are worthy for enshrinement based on their accomplishments, not a vendetta. Each member of the BBWAA receives a ballot, on which, they can vote for up to 10 players each year. If I had a 2013 ballot, I would have voted for:
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Craig Biggio
- Mike Piazza
- Jeff Bagwell
- Alan Trammell
- Rafael Palmeiro
- Dale Murphy
- Tim Raines
- Mark McGwire
I don’t feel as though I need to make a case for any of the players above. If you don’t know who they are or what they did, click on the hyperlink to view their statistics at Baseball Reference. I have made cases for both Dale Murphy and Alan Trammell previously, so you can read further there.
Furthermore, I wanted to vent…
How can a player be unworthy of a vote one season and worth one the next? In 2011, Jeff Bagwell received 41.7 percent of the vote. In 2012, Bagwell received 56 percent of the vote with 59.6 percent in 2013. Jeff Bagwell’s accomplishments never changed. The number of voters who turned in ballots may have, but how can a player not receive your vote one season and they get it the next. Understandably, a player like Kenny Lofton or Fred McGriff may miss votes on the current ballot due to the presence of so many quality players on the ballot this year. Is that the reason for a 15 percent increase in Bagwell’s numbers, or is it the “I-refuse-to-vote-for-someone-in-their-first-year-of-eligibility-because-no-one-has-ever-had-100-percent-of-the-vote” mentality?
What if one-third of the voters took that approach? No one would ever get in!
John Fay, of the Cincinnati Enquirer, decided to not turn in a ballot in 2013. Why? Because he didn’t want to “play judge and jury this year.” Unfortunately, every year that a member, or the members, of the BBWAA turn in a ballot, that is what they are doing. Their votes are and have been the deciding factor in who gets enshrined in Cooperstown. Basing this on the rule that “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played,” as Fay has is a total cop-out.
The Hall of Fame is littered with racists and bigots (Ty Cobb), adulterers (Babe Ruth), drunks (Mickey Mantle), and potential drug addicts. The 1960′s and 1970′s were dominated by players who could have used “greenies” or amphetamines to keep themselves up for an entire season. When you don’t test for drugs or steroids, whether they are illegal in the “real world” or not, then you are open to players abusing the system, and character flaws have been overlooked since voting for the Hall of Fame began.
While Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have been tied to steroid use, baseball wasn’t testing for it and the game was recovering from the 1994 strike, basking in the glory of the long-ball to draw fans. As baseballs sailed into the Pacific Ocean beyond right field in San Francisco and out onto the streets of Chicago, Bud Selig was not upset as stadiums were filled with people again. Should the Steroid Era players be put in for their accomplishments AND the contributions that they made in saving the game?
Baseball is a game of statistics. Why is the sport held to a gentleman expectation? While there have been several unwritten rules, there just isn’t room for the greatest players, cheaters or not (hello Gaylord Perry!), to be withheld from being recognized as the greatest players ever due to a moral vendetta, especially when so many players are included who had greater personal flaws.
As the BBWAA completed their vote and it was announced, we sit here with so many players sitting at home for another season, waiting for their opportunity to travel to Cooperstown as an elected member of the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, some of those players will be “good enough” next year. There are so many things wrong with the voting process for baseball’s greatest museum, and the writers proved their point today.
The players are the people who fans want to see. Fans DO NOT care about the writers. Do your job and vote for the greats, otherwise, it is all a sham.
When the Texas Rangers signed Lance Berkman to a one-year, $10 million deal (with a $12 million option for 2014, which vests at $14 million for 550 plate appearances in 2013), they really caused some chaos on their roster.
Berkman will be the primary designated hitter in 2013, at least for as long as his ailing knees will allow him to after he missed 117 games in 2012 due to injuries to both knees and his left calf. The Rangers are making a very questionable decision in this signing.
Texas has been linked to deals with the Arizona Diamondbacks all offseason, as Arizona GM Kevin Towers continues to shop Justin Upton. While Rangers GM Jon Daniels has refused to create a package around top prospect Jurickson Profar, the club may have just blocked their prized possession by signing Berkman.
Daniels announced on January 7 that with the signing of Berkman, the club was going into the 2013 season with Ian Kinsler at second base and Mitch Moreland at first base. Daniels confirmed on December 9 that Kinsler was an option at first base, which would have opened second base for Profar or allowed the club to keep Profar at short and move Elvis Andrus to second.
With Adrian Beltre entrenched at third base for the Rangers, Mike Olt, another top prospect for Texas becomes expendable, even after the club traded Michael Young to Philadelphia. Olt could play some first base, but with Moreland, Kinsler, and Berkman (possibly) capable of handling the position, he’ll probably head to Triple-A Round Rock for the start of the 2013 season…if he isn’t traded.
While the club mentioned Kinsler as an option at first, he could still make sense in left field. With Josh Hamilton signing with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers outfield is suddenly very weak, at least on paper. The top four outfielders are David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Leonys Martin, and Craig Gentry. If Kinsler played left, where his bat could play well still, it would open the door for Profar at second, at least, and the club could still hope that a package featuring Mike Olt could still land the club Upton. Kinsler could handle center, possibly, as an up-the-middle player with solid speed (157 steals in seven seasons), which would allow the club to move Cruz to left.
While Berkman has been a fantastic player over his career, a club with so many options offensively should not have locked up a player for, potentially, two season if “Big Puma” were to actually hit his vesting option. Even a rotation of players would have been a solid use of resources, possibly DHing Nelson Cruz to keep his legs, which have kept him out of 83 games since the start of 2010, fresh.
What would the best-case scenario be for Berkman and the Rangers? With Murphy in left full-time and Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt in Triple-A, all because of Berkman’s inability to play the field at this point of his career, the Rangers are not better. They have de-valued one of the top prospects in baseball by tying Ron Washington‘s hands with a player in the decline of his career.
Jon Daniels has done nothing to help the Rangers this offseason. While we don’t know if it was his call to hope that Josh Hamilton called the Rangers to allow them to match an offer, only to lose out to their division-rival, the fact that the club continues to hold onto Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar instead of upgrading by getting Justin Upton continues to be the driving mistake of the offseason for the club. At least Upton is someone to build around, as he is 25 years old and signed through 2015.
Jon Daniels may have just blocked Jurickson Profar AND Mike Olt for the next two seasons. There is no excuse for that, even for a team that had the money to spend.
Below, you’ll see rankings for the top 10 players at each position for fantasy baseball. You’ll see names to watch for keeper leagues below the list of major league players, consisting of only minor league players (Manny Machado need not apply).
Top 10 Catchers
- Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, 26
- Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians, 26
- Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles, 26
- Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins, 29
- Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals, 30
- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals, 22
- Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks, 29
- Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves, 29
- Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies, 24
- Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, 23
Top 10 First Basemen
- Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, 29
- Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels, 33
- Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers, 28
- Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals, 26
- Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers, 30
- Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays, 30
- Ike Davis, New York Mets, 26
- Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals, 28
- Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, 32
- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, 23
Keepers: Jonathan Singleton, Houston Astros; Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins; Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals; Ryan Wheeler, Arizona Diamondbacks; Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies; Dan Vogelbach, Chicago Cubs;
Top 10 Second Basemen
- Robinson Cano, New York Yankees, 30
- Dustin Pedroia, Boston Reds Sox, 29
- Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers, 30
- Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, 31
- Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays, 31
- Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, 25
- Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks, 31
- Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27
- Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals, 25
- Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers, 30
Keepers: Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers; Jon Schoop, Baltimore Orioles; Kolton Wong, St. Louis Cardinals; Delino DeShields, Houston Astros; Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals; Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins;
Top 10 Third Basemen
- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, 29
- Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, 27
- Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers, 33
- David Wright, New York Mets, 30
- Chase Headley, San Diego Padres, 28
- Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, 28
- Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays, 23
- Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants, 26
- Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers, 34
- Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals, 24
Keepers: Mike Olt, Texas Rangers; Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers; Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies; Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres; Addison Russell, Oakland A’s; Cheslor Cuthbert, Kansas City Royals; Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins; Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers;
Top 10 Shortstops
- Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, 28
- Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs, 23
- Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers, 29
- Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays, 29
- Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers, 24
- Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians, 27
- Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals, 27
- Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels, 29
- Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies, 34
- Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals, 26
Top 10 Left Fielders
- Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers, 29
- Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, 27
- Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels, 31
- Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals, 33
- Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A’s, 27
- Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals, 29
- Michael Morse, Washington Nationals, 31
- Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins, 34
- Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays, 28
- Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers, 31
Top 10 Center Fielders
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, 21
- Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers, 28
- Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26
- Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, 27
- Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox, 29
- Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees, 32
- Michael Bourn, FREE AGENT, 30
- Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays, 26
- Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds, 30
- Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies, 27
Top 10 Right Fielders
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, 23
- Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves, 23
- Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks, 25
- Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds, 25
- Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays, 32
- Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, 20
- Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox, 32
- Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers, 30
- Josh Reddick, Oakland A’s, 26
- Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals, 35
Outfield Keepers: Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals; Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays; Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds; Bubba Starling, Kansas City Royals; Jake Marisnick, Miami Marlins; Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins; Michael Choice, Oakland A’s; Tyler Austin, New York Yankees; Mason Williams, New York Yankees; George Springer, Houston Astros; Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks; Jorge Solar, Chicago Cubs; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers; Albert Almora, Chicago Cubs; Rymer Liriano, San Diego Padres; Trayce Thompson, Chicago White Sox; Courtney Hawkins, Chicago White Sox;
Top 10 Starting Pitchers
- Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers, 30
- Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, 26
- David Price, Tampa Bay Rays, 27
- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, 25
- Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants, 28
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals, 24
- Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, 23
- Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies, 29
- Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers, 29
- Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies, 34
Keepers: Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles; Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians; Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates; Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates; Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners; Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks; Danny Hultzen, Seattle Mariners; Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals; Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals; Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves; Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins;
Top 10 Relief Pitchers
- Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves, 24
- Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals, 30
- Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies, 32
- Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox, 24
- Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles, 29
- Drew Storen, Washington Nationals, 25
- Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers, 38
- J.J. Putz, New York Mets, 36
- Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees, 43
- Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox, 31