After various rumors that he might sign with some sufficiently desperate team failed to pan out, it seems increasingly likely that Barry Bonds has played his last major league game. If so, then Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa will all be appearing on your Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2013. Raphael Palmiero will show up the year before (correction — in 2011).
Are any of these guys going to get in? Should they? Sosa and Palmiero are strongly if not overwhelmingly qualified according to the traditional voting criteria. (I think these criteria need to be adjusted somewhat to account for the offensive explosion of the last 15 years — for example I doubt many people would rank Palmiero as one of the top 50ish players in history, given that he’s a first baseman who never led the league in almost any major offensive category). Bonds and Clemens, of course, are arguably the greatest player and greatest pitcher in the history of the game, respectively.
The most relevant evidence so far is the voting for Mark McGwire, whose overall level of qualification is similar to Sosa’s and Palmiero’s. McGwire has been on the ballot for two years, and received shockingly (to me) little support, appearing on just 23% of the ballots (75% is necessary for election).
In fact all these guys certainly would have made it absent the steriod thing, and Bonds and Clemens would have been very close to unanimous first-ballot choices (there are always a handful of Typical White Middle-Aged Sportswriters — TWMAS for future reference — who won’t vote for anybody on the first ballot because Babe Ruth wasn’t a unanimous pick or somebody slighted Jim Bunning in the balloting or whatever).
My guess is that the only guy who makes it out of this group is Clemens. This will lead to a big argument about how much Bonds’ race was a factor, which will be just one more domestic crisis that President Obama will have to deal with.
Apparently it’s possible that greatest
pitcher athlete in Yankee recorded human history will be going on the D.L. Overhype aside, that’s a pretty serious hit, especially given their upcoming schedule. Maybe the Yankees will miss the postseason after all! Of course, I’m sure the Yankees will be able to come up with some complete stiff with no major league credentials to go 11-0 in his place anyway.
This is a pretty nice stat line. Ziegler’s story has Billy Beane’s and thus Bill James’s fingerprints all over it. A 20th-round draft pick out of college who spent a few years struggling in the low minors, the A’s converted him to a submarine-style pitching motion last year (James has always been a big believer in the theory that submarine pitching motions aren’t used enough, mainly because of old-time baseball men’s prejudice against throwing under-handed. Hmmm, does the use of the term under-handed to mean devious encode this semantically?).
Well now the guy has given up one earned run in 56 innings of AAA and MLB pitching. His major league career is 32 innings long and no one has gotten an extra base hit on him.
An odd footnote to all this is that his skull has been fractured twice in the last four years — once by a line drive in a game, and then this past January in a freak accident at a baseball camp by a stray baseball.
Given that the White Sox appear to have been historically terrible in terms of center field defense this year, I suppose that the Griffey acquisition makes sense, even allowing for his demand to return to center. I’m kind of glad, though, that I didn’t take time out of my precious DC visit to go and see the Nationals and my beloved Reds last night, although I suppose that attending while wearing my Griffey t-shirt (which bears Griffey’s 2005 number, to boot) would have had some anachronistic value. In any case, dumping any of Griffey’s salary for anyone who might contribute in any way to a future Cincinnati playoff team is a good move for the Reds…
…apparently a Dodger. Seems like the Sox will still get Bay; at a glance seems like an OK return for the Bucs, although I’m not sure what Moss’s upside is.
Whoa–this would be something if it happens. My initial impulse was to say that this is making Boston’s season look all the more 2005ish, but it’s not that bad. It helps the Red Sox in the future because Ramirez was pretty clearly gone after this year anyway, and when you factor in defense Bay’s probably not actually much worse. A lot depends on Bay’s defense, which his hard to read; his numbers are all over the place. If he does the job in the field, it could work out well even this year.
It’s also an interesting move by Florida, who seem to be doubling down: having an good offensive team with poor defense, they’ve added…a world-class hitting butcher. Their lineup becomes pretty fierce, although Manny playing a left field of that size is pretty frightening.
Detroit media outlets reporting Yankees have acquired Ivan Rodriguez. No word on what the Tigers got.
While obviously not close to the player he was in his prime, IRod is an exactly average AL hitter at this point, which makes him a better than average hitter for a catcher. Even though his defensive skills have deteriorated quite a bit from their once unparalleled height, he’s still a much better gloveman than Posada.
Hopefully Dave Dombrowski pried away a couple of good prospects, and this isn’t a salary dump (doesn’t seem likely as he’s a free agent at the end of the season).
BTW Rodriguez is only about 90 games away from the all-time MLB record for games caught.
Update: Sweet Jebus, apparently it’s a straight-up deal for Kyle Farnsworth. I’m a big fan of Dombrowski but if that’s accurate that’s ridiculous.
Further update: Just remembered that if anybody signs him as a free agent after this season the team that loses him gets two compensatory draft picks between the first and second round. So it looks like Detroit traded two months of IRod for Kyle Farnsworth and a couple of late first/early second round picks. I know Farnsworth has been decent this year but come on . . .
He would be Todd Jones, i.e., he would
(1) Inexplicably be handed a series of very important high-paying jobs; where he would
(2) Suck at them; yet
(3) Continue to get promoted; thereby destroying
(4) The United States of America/The Detroit Tigers’ season.
Actually the Todd Jones Situation (and wouldn’t that be a good name for a band?) is even less defensible than the Bush presidency. At least Bush doesn’t have an ERA or a K/BB ratio.
[Edit: I now see there are implied references to the topic of How Much Todd Jones Sucks in the Pirate Booty thread, where it’s conceded he’s not an “elite” (LOL!!!!) reliever. The guy has had one good season in the last eight years! He has an adjusted ERA of 84! He’s not even an average relief pitcher let alone an average closer! He’s being paid $7 million this season by a team with a $133 million payroll! Alright doctor I’ll stop now]
While picking up something at the hardware store today, I heard a talk radio guy complain that the Pirates were driving too hard a bargain on players who rightfully belong to the Yankees, boo-hoo. But when you’ve recently benefited from trades that seem to be crackpot talk radio caller proposals, why no expect to add useful parts without losing anything significant? So, right on cue, following Pat Gillick generously donating OBP machine Bobby Abreu and the late Cory Lidle to the Yanks two years ago in exchange for a 2-for-1 McDLT coupon, the Pirates gave the Yankees decent RH outfielder Xavier Nady and outstanding LH reliever Damaso Marte. In exchange, the only quality prospect they received is someone (admittedly only 19) who can’t hit AA pitching and already has wrist and hamstring problems. But he’s toolsy so he may learn to hit someday. Ehh. Moreover, they took this highly underwhelming package several days before the deadline despite several contending teams in the market for outfield and bullpen help. I’m tempted to say that nothing has changed in Pittsburgh, although in fairness if Littlefield was still there they would have received Pavano, Igawa, and the rights to Dave LaPoint instead of two of the prospects.
I’m tempted at this point to bet Howard a donation to the anti-Prop 8 campaign that the Yankees win the division outright. Not because the Sox didn’t hit tonight per se — two excellent pitchers combined with Foster’s Alice-in-Wonderland strike zone will do that — but because Ramirez may be hurt and Ortiz doesn’t look anywhere near 100%. With the bottom of the order having become a vast wasteland and the leadoff hitter looking almost equally atrocious, they can’t afford to have both of these guys out or in significantly subpar form, especially with Drew bound to cool off. Maybe Manny will be Manny tomorrow and Papi will shake off the rust more quickly than his performance tonight would indicate, but it wouldn’t be very surprising for the Yankees to outplay them by 3 games the rest of the way, especially with Cashman having addressed their weakness against lefthanders while giving up nothing they’ll miss.
I forgot to mention this, but commenter Howard and I once again have a $50 donation to Planned Parenthood riding on whether the Yankees make the playoffs. Harvey Araton’s highly unconvincing comparisons to 1965 notwithstanding, I would definitely make the bet again in a second. Especially with Posada looking out for the year, I don’t think it’s quite the lock it was at this time last year, but I still think it’s much better than 50/50. In particular, with the collapse of the Indians the competition is a lot weaker. The West is a write-off: with over-their-heads pitching and a pathetic offense, the A’s (as Beane correctly saw) have as little chance to make the postseason as a team in their position could have, especially after their meek surrender in the Bronx. (Speaking of pathetic offenses, is the jig finally up on J.P. Riccardi?) The Tigers might outscore the Yankees going forward, but with their pitching I can’t pick them to be 4 games better the rest of the way. The Twins have two players who could start for the Yankees and have allowed more runs. And while I would still pick the Red Sox, one can’t rule out the possibility of the Yankees winning the division outright.
This leaves us with Tampa. I’ll be rooting hard for them, not only to beat the Yankees but because they remind me of my beloved early-90s Expos. But I think they’ll be good but not quite good enough. The historical hurdle is formidable: indeed, I think they would be the most unlikely miracle team ever. The only other miracle team with 95 Pythagorean losses the previous year is the ’91 Braves, and the Rays face tougher competition and don’t have a Hall of Fame manager in their first year. (The ’69 Mets and ’61 Reds did have a manager who wasn’t new and had no previous credentials, so it’s not impossible, just something working against them.) If their young starters hold up under the strain, Percival stays healthy, and Wheeler, Howell and Balfour all keep pitching brilliantly, they’ll win…but myself I wouldn’t bet on that. Not impossible, but significantly less than 50/50.
Whether they make the playoffs this year or not, though, they’ve still had an amazing season. And like the ’91 Braves, I think the key lesson is that when you have a team with talented young pitching, putting a real defense behind them is absolutely crucial.
Nicholas Carr asks Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (I started reading this but got bored so I don’t know the answer).
I do know that Google is the single greatest invention of the human mind since that thing Peter Frampton used to make his guitar sound like a robot voice, mainly because it allows one to find the answer to questions such as “was Jimmy Gobble’s ten runs given up in a single inning last night a major league record?” in 20 seconds flat.
Early on during those 20 seconds I suspected the answer might involve one of those deals where a position player pitches an inning in a game that has gotten out of hand, so I take it as some sort of cosmic joke that the record is held by a regular pitcher who washed out of the majors then came back five years later as an outfielder at the age of 31 and hit .349 in seven seasons (fourth-highest average of all time in 3000 or more plate appearances, per baseball-reference).
Although C. Moore’s Sluggy McSlugs managed a hard charge towards the end of the first half of the season, they were unable to stave off the inevitable victory of the Lexington Bearded Ducks. The Ducks, considered nigh unbeatable by most analysts, delivered a 175 point victory over the McSlugs and other, lesser competition. The pointless formality of the second half of the season will begin on Thursday. The final first half standings:
||Lexington Bearded Ducks, R. Farley
||Sluggy McSlugs, C. Moore
||The Rev. Josh Fields, A. Katz
||Headless Thompson Gunners, S. Hickey
||kodos423, k. crockett
||JacobyRules, P. Smith
||KY Colonels, R. Payne
||Austin Electric Chairs, E. Loomis
||Wild Loose Comma, C. S
||Axis of Evel Knievel, D. Noon
||Theibault Moor Orioles, J. Theibault
||Lungless Wonders, E. Udall
||MutiliatedLittleLady, K. Houghton
||Sprained Mitochondria, P. McLeod
||Heavily Armed Tourists, M. Haxby
||Warning Track Power, P. Wu
||Drunken Warthogs, S. Ehrlich
||Robertson, E. Robertson
||Wobblies, M. Christman
||Lee Ho Fuk’s, P. Richardson
||The 14th Century, M Dugas
||Anderson, f. Anderson
||Wengler1, W. Engler