Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pettitte chooses Yankees over Torre

Andy Pettitte has chosen the New York Yankees over Joe Torre in what was likely an excruciating decision for him.

The Yankees lefty has officially taken himself out of consideration for a spot pitching in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, a squad that will be led by his former manager Torre. Pettitte’s rejection of Torre’s offer to pitch for the team was a foregone conclusion once the Yankees expressed concerns about Pettitte participating, and possibly injuring himself, in an exhibition tournament. Those reservations outweighed any loyalty that Pettitte felt toward the man who protected him when he was a young pitcher from George Steinbrenner’s trade-happy ways, the manager who was at the helm for the first four World Series titles Pettitte helped win.

I’m not one of those baseball fans who hates the World Baseball Classic and I like the idea of seeing Yankee players participate. But I do understand the Yankees expressing concern about a potential injury to their #2 starter, particularly because they know Pettitte is such a competitor that he won’t be able to restrain himself from giving it his all. And Torre doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of not burning out his arms—protecting his pitchers is one area where Joe Girardi definitely is the better manager.
As much personal affection as Pettitte has for his former manager, in this situation the lefty simply was not going to go against the wishes of his bosses. Loyalty only goes so far.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Will the Yankees ever be rid of ARod drama?

Will the drama surrounding Alex Rodriguez and his history – and possibly his present – with performance-enhancing drugs ever cease? Perhaps the better question is whether the New York Yankees will ever be able to rid themselves of ARod and his drama before his contract officially ends in five years.

In a statement, Alex Rodriguez vehemently denied the latest revelations outlined extensively in a story by the Miami New Times that linked him and as many as 20 other Major League Baseball players to a clinic run by a man who allegedly dispensed PEDs. But ARod’s denials are not worth the paper they are printed on. He has lied far too many times to too many people to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his past and possibly present use of PEDs.

To be fair, ARod is not the only well-known baseball player on the list. Melky Cabrera, who was busted by MLB and suspended in 2012 for using a banned substance, also made an appearance on the list. Shockingly, young stud pitcher Gio Gonzalez was also linked to the clinic (surprising only because I can’t remember ever hearing or seeing his name connected to PEDs before). But ARod is definitely the big kahuna of the group because of his paycheck and because, well, he’s ARod.

This is probably wishful thinking, but I wonder if ARod’s contract with the Yankees can be voided in any way if it’s proven he used PEDs again. Hal Steinbrenner & Co would love that. It would erase what was the costliest contract blunder in Yankees history, one the Steinbrenners have no one to blame on but themselves. And it’s a huge positive from a business perspective because it would immediately get the Yankees under the self-imposed $189 million cap and allow them to start spending money like the Yankees again.

But getting rid of ARod is likely nothing more than a pipe dream for the Yankee owners and legions of fans. We’re simply stuck waiting for the next ARod revelations and drama. This story just keeps getting uglier and uglier and there’s no end in sight.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Here it goes again for ARod in PED story

Not this again!

A Miami man connected to Alex Rodriguez and other baseball players is apparently under investigation for illegally distributing, you guessed it, performance-enhancing drugs.

I just don’t understand why the New York Yankees third baseman has so much trouble staying away from these questionable characters. How a man with so many resources, which could be used to pay for the best public relations advisors and lawyers, consistently finds himself connected to shady characters is beyond me. ARod invites the scorn and ridicule he receives on a regular basis with his sketchy associations. But more importantly, he invites the question about whether he is cheating again. And if he is doing so now, he is doing it under the more rigorous microscope of Major League Baseball, which apparently is aware of the situation and cooperating with authorities.  

The news comes just days after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman left open the possibility that ARod could miss the 2013 baseball season completely. While it seems unlikely, the fact that it’s even possible speaks to ARod’s precarious physical state, which many observers attribute to his PED usage. If he misses an entire season because of this injury, it’s something that ARod is probably not going to recover from in New York, not when he’s making more than $30 million a year to play baseball and so many people are struggling to pay their everyday bills.

ARod could be completely innocent in this matter, but he won’t get the benefit of the doubt because of his previous history with PEDs. The man really isn’t doing himself any favors.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fun times with Mariano Rivera and friends

Funny quotes from Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure event honoring Mariano Rivera:

David Cone on Mariano striking out Jay Buhner in the 1995 division series, then quickly being removed from Game 5 by then-Yankees manager Buck Showalter: “He should’ve brought [Mo] in earlier. Should have kept him in longer. Buck Showalter would still be managing the Yankees.”

John Flaherty talking about feeling confident about facing Mariano as a hitter because he knew Mo would throw him all fastballs: “Three pitches and I was back in the dugout. Be careful what you wish for because you might get it.”

Larry Rothschild talking about facing Mariano as the first manager of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays: “We didn’t see him a whole lot because the games weren’t that close.”

Rothschild on calling Mo after he became the Yankees pitching coach: “There’s no use calling him, he’ll never call you back.”

Mariano on reports that he only needs eight innings of work in spring training to be ready for the baseball season: “That’s plenty. I try to cut it down.”

Mariano on his reluctance to travel to away games in spring training: “They have all these young boys and they want to send me to Winter Haven or Fort Myers. All that traffic. I did that when I was young.”

Mariano on going for the save: “If I’m there for 10 minutes, I’m in trouble.”

Flaherty on thinking he would fit right in with the Boston Red Sox because of his name: “When you hit .190, they don’t love you that much.”

Ed Randall on how players joining the New York Yankees immediately adopt the Yankees professional way of playing the game of baseball: “Locker next to Derek Jeter and see if he pulls that crap, BJ Upton.”

Cone on the Yankees beating the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 and 1999 World Series: “Twice we snatched away team of the decade from the Atlanta Braves. Every time I see [John] Smoltz, I let him know."

Cone on the New York Mets using the Baja Boys song “Who let the Dogs out?” for inspiration during the 2000 World Series: “Jeter goes all right. We’re all looking at each other and going ‘are you kidding'? This is the World Series. Jeter goes up there first pitch: whack, gone.”

Mariano on sitting next to Yankees legend Don Mattingly after he was first called up to the big leagues: “I was afraid to breathe.”

Cone on the Yankees winning tradition: “There’s always someone in the Yankees organization who can put you in your place. The Core Four [has] the great five rings. And then Yogi [Berra] walks in the room.”

“He lets you know,” Mo said of Yogi’s 10 World Series titles.

Mariano on his tweaked nickname for his former catcher Flaherty: “I call him White Flash. We have Tom Gordon—that’s Black Flash.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mariano Rivera feeling good just in time

Mariano Rivera is feeling good and that’s the most important news of the day.

I had the pleasure of attending Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure event honoring Mariano Rivera last night. After an introductory video highlighting Mo’s legendary career, the first question Randall posed to Mo was to ask how he is feeling. The long-time sportswriter and radio host spoke for all New York Yankees fans in and out of that room when he asked Mo to please say he is fine. Luckily, Mo said he is feeling really good.

But I felt so bad for Mo because the next thing he said was that it was torture watching the Yankees play without him after that terrible knee injury last year. As the evening went on, it became clear that Mo is a fierce competitor and was haunted by the fact that he couldn’t be there for his teammates.

“I felt powerless,” he said. “I wanted to do everything, but I couldn’t. It was painful.”

Mo talked about how he desperately tried to rehab in time to help the Yankees last October. I hadn’t realized that Mo was trying so hard to return for the playoffs. Not that he could have helped the nonexistent Yankees offense against Detroit.

But he’s been there for his teammates so many times, as we saw from the career highlights that played throughout the evening. The wonder in the voices of former teammates David Cone and John Flaherty, and even a competitor who beat him in Luis Gonzalez, is obvious when they talk about Mariano. Gonzalez insisted that he got lucky in blooping that base hit over Derek Jeter’s head in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, but praised Mariano’s humility and graciousness in giving Gonzalez and the Arizona Diamondbacks full credit for that victory.

“What you see is what you get,” Cone said. “Whatever you think about this man, you’re thinking right because he is an exceptional person as well as a pitcher.”

"He's kind of the Superman of baseball," Gonzalez said in a taped interview. "I'm sure as soon as his time comes for him to hang up that number 42, he will be the next one to go into the Hall of Fame."

Mariano and his friends regaled us with stories about game situations and manager Joe Girardi’s stress over Mo’s relaxed pace of getting ready to get into the game. Mo never rushes through his routine, not even at the request of his hyperactive manager. It was obvious that the guys love to mess with Girardi.

“You have to have fun,” Rivera said. “The game is too hard not to have fun.”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready with my camera when Mo walked right past me on the way to the podium – he is so much taller than I expected – and I was a bit too far from the stage to get a great picture. But I did manage some decent photos of him and his friends: Cone, Flaherty and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

It was really cool to be there for such a fun and funny conversation. I’ll post some of the funnier lines from the evening tomorrow. Needless to say, just being there for an event honoring my favorite baseball player was the ultimate thrill.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Francona gets his revenge on the Red Sox

They say living well is the best revenge. If that’s the case, Terry Francona’s payback against the Boston Red Sox seems to be going beautifully.

Francona is back in the manager’s seat where he belongs after a short respite in the ESPN booth to recover from the negative end to his Red Sox tenure, with the manager being made the scapegoat for the team’s epic collapse in 2011 and a nasty hit put on him in the Boston media. The former Saux manager gets to start over with a new team in the Cleveland Indians in a town with a sports media that is not as demanding and vicious as Boston. Plus, his new book is being released and promises to tell his side of the story of how and why he left the Red Sox despite leading the team to two World Series titles.

Interestingly enough, Francona seems to put most of the blame for the collapse of the Saux in recent years on their image-obsessed owners. It’s hard to tell from just reading an excerpt, but he seems to imply that many of the personnel moves that sunk the Red Sox were directed by a marketing strategy rather than a baseball strategy. Francona also suggested that former general manager Theo Epstein, who protected his manager from much of the non-baseball nonsense, was frustrated by this type of thinking and bolted the first chance he got.

I’m planning to read the Francona book as soon as possible. I’m dying to know the details of how it all went wrong for the guys who finally ended the curse of the Bambino and pushed past the New York Yankees on their way to two titles. And even if Francona is disappointed by the excerpt published by Sports Illustrated, it’s not going to hurt his book sales one bit, which won’t make his former bosses very happy.  

Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the photo.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Will Clemens ever ‘fess up like Armstrong?

I couldn’t care less about cycling and never bought into the myth of Lance Armstrong even before he got caught doping, but I tuned into the first part of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with him out of pure curiosity.

For me, the most astonishing part of the interview was not that he finally told the truth and confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs. The most interesting and infuriating part was his lack of genuine remorse about the way he attacked and tormented good, innocent people who dared to tell the truth about his PED use.

Let’s be clear: Armstrong did not confess because he feels bad about his despicable behavior. He only admitted the truth because the evidence against him was undeniable and because he wants to broker some kind of deal to return to professional cycling one day. He finally came clean only because he wants something in return, a chance to rebuild his legacy. But I don’t think Armstrong’s interview did him any favors. By his own admission, he was a bully and a cheater and I would be shocked if cycling officials decide to give him another chance after all the damage he has done to their sport.

I couldn’t help but wonder if we will eventually see the same kind of confession from Roger Clemens. The former New York Yankees pitcher and 7-time Cy Young award winner has fiercely denied and battled accusations that he used steroids, even through a perjury trial that could have landed him in jail. He has disparaged the reputation of his former trainer Brian McNamee and challenged the memory of his former pal Andy Pettitte in sticking with his story that he did not cheat the game of baseball by using PEDs. But many baseball writers and other observers believe he did and that belief kept him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first try.  

But I doubt Clemens will follow in Armstrong’s footsteps and confess to his sins. I can imagine that Clemens desperately wants to be in the Hall of Fame, but admitting the use of PEDs will probably not be enough to get him in. We saw Mark McGwire tearfully admit to using steroids. While it cleared the path for him to return to baseball, it didn’t win him any more support from the baseball writers, who have consistently chosen to keep him out of the Hall.

Clemens, unlike Armstrong, doesn’t have much to gain from a confession, other than the small chance of Hall induction. He can un-retire whenever he wants and does not need the permission of Major League Baseball to return to the sport since he was not suspended or banished from the game.

If I had to put money on it, I would guess that Clemens will never come clean about his PED use.

Thanks to McSmit via Wikimedia Commons for the Lance Armstrong photo.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yankees get their way with Pettitte out of WBC

The New York Yankees will never admit to this, but they obviously put some subtle pressure on their veteran lefty Andy Pettitte not to pitch in the World Baseball Classic.

Reports earlier this week said Pettitte would pitch for the USA in the tournament, but the lefty’s name was notably missing from the official list of players announced today. While there is still a chance he could be named to the team because one more slot remains open, his appearance on the roster would be a rather shocking development.

The denials will continue from here to eternity. But there’s no question that the Yankees were very concerned about the possibility that Pettitte, who they desperately need this year to solidify their starting rotation, could get hurt during a glorified exhibition, far away from the caring hands of the Yankee trainers. The Yankees could not forbid Pettitte from participating in the WBC, but they could easily have sent him a strong message that pitching for the US squad was not a good idea.

Derek Jeter, captain of the last US squad, is obviously unavailable to play this time around as he recuperates from his ankle injury, which is probably devastating to him because his former manager and second father Joe Torre is managing the team. But the Yankees will be well represented in the 2013 WBC. Mark Teixeira will play for the US, Robinson Cano will represent the Dominican Republic and Francisco Cervelli will play with Italy.

Notice there are no pitchers on that list. The Yankees were not taking a chance with any of their arms, especially the arm of an aging Andy Pettitte. They need him for when the games really count.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Soriano finally lands on his feet

I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the deal Rafael Soriano got with the Washington Nationals.

Sure it’s not the guaranteed three-year deal he probably wanted. But his agent Scott Boras got him roughly the same amount of money he would have gotten had he returned to the New York Yankees for one year. And he did get a two-year deal – with a vesting option – to pitch for a young, contending team. It’s a pretty good deal considering that it is the middle of January and the market for Soriano seemed nonexistent once the Detroit Tigers made it clear they were not in the bidding for Soriano’s services.
I wonder how Soriano feels about his new deal. It probably would have been a better move to accept the Yankees offer and stay in New York in 2013. But I’m sure feels good about having a strong chance to close baseball games for another good team rather than return to the Bronx for another year to set up for Mariano Rivera. Soriano did a terrific job for the Yankees in 2012, but he wasn’t going to have a chance to compete to close games here. That job belongs to Mo as long as he wants it.
So after months of uncertainty, Soriano has finally landed on his feet. Good for him.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Healthy Jeter will prove haters wrong again

Derek Jeter is getting healthier by the day and that’s good because the haters are already starting to come down on him.

The New York Yankees captain is out of the walking boot that protected his surgically repaired ankle for months and is already performing some light exercises, according to general manager Brian Cashman. Both Jeter and Cashman swear the shortstop is on track for Opening Day 2013 following the painful injury that put a premature end to his (and the Yankees) quest for another baseball title in 2012.

But ahead of the start of spring training, the haters, I mean the stat geeks, are already talking about what kind of year Jeter is going to put up in 2013. Not surprisingly, many of them are predicting that Jeter’s numbers, beginning with his batting average, will fall significantly. Despite the captain’s many accomplishments, these stat geeks continue to use their models to make the case that A) Jeter is not a good defensive player and B) Jeter will struggle offensively. And even though he proved them wrong last year, they will come back with a vengeance to try to discredit the performance of baseball’s top ambassador.

Jeter and the people who know him best have no doubt he will return to his 2012 form after a successful rehab. But the haters will keep spewing out their negative predictions, just waiting for Jeter to back and again prove them wrong.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Baseball can’t rewrite ugly drug past

Major League Baseball simply cannot rewrite its ugly history with performance-enhancing drugs, no matter how much Bud Selig & Co would like to.

But MLB took another step in the right direction with additional improvements to its drug testing program that will now include in-season blood testing for human growth hormone and for synthetic testosterone in an attempt to catch those bold (or stupid) enough to try to cheat the system. Baseball officials will proudly declare their program to be the toughest of any of the major US sports. But they won’t talk about how long it took to get there.

Selig denied any embarrassment by the shutout thrown by the baseball writers in their 2013 Hall of Fame balloting. But the message was sent, not only to the players who cheated, but to everyone else who didn’t do enough to stop PED use, including Selig. Yes, the players union thwarted him at every turn during the negotiations, but Selig didn’t use the loud megaphone he has at his disposal to pressure the union to embrace testing. If the commissioner had come out and said he suspected PED use was rampant, that might have spurred the public outrage a lot sooner than Jose Canseco and the fine reporters at the San Francisco Chronicle did.  

I do give MLB credit for making this such a core issue that improvements to the system no longer wait for the next round of union negotiations. Better late than never, I suppose.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Yankees snubbed by Hall of Fame voters again

The New York Yankees have not fared well in the Baseball Hall of Fame voting in recent years, but this is ridiculous.

A couple of Yankee players scored so low in the voting that they were actually kicked off the ballot. The candidacy of Bernie Williams is over after two years since he only got 3.3% of the vote after a disappointing showing in last year’s voting that barely kept him in the running. I knew Bernie didn’t have much of a chance at induction, but I thought his postseason numbers and World Series championships merited a lot more support from the baseball writers.

David “Boomer” Wells is a one-and-done guy after scoring less than 1% of the vote. I didn’t expect him to get a lot of votes, but that number is pretty low for a guy who had 239 victories and pitched a perfect game. His 4.13 lifetime ERA likely worked against him, but Boomer also probably alienated a lot of people with his antics, including his claim that he was half drunk when he pitched his perfecto. I was a big Boomer fan, but I know he wasn't a Hall of Famer.

Other former Yankees will remain on the ballot after scoring more than 5% of the vote, namely Tim Raines, who passed the 50% mark for the first time. Given that he still has many years of eligibility and some vocal supporters, I think Timmy will make it in eventually. He won a couple of titles with the Yankees, but he was more of a mentor and part-time player in the Bronx so he will likely wear a Montreal Expos cap because he achieved much of his greatest success during his years in Canada. But I still count him as a Yankee so I will be thrilled when he finally gets in.

I’m not including Roger Clemens in this discussion because his performance-enhancing drug usage puts him in an entirely different category of evaluation, but I’m glad he didn’t do well in the voting and hope he never gets in. And if he does get in, I hope he doesn’t wear a Yankees cap, as he has pledged. Let the Boston Red Sox have him. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baseball writers reject PED users

The baseball writers have emphatically rejected the mere notion of putting players caught or suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I was heartened by the flat-out refusal of so many writers to vote for the unholy trinity of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. There are some writers and fans that don’t care at all about PED usage or at least don’t see it as enough of a justification for keeping a player out of the Hall. I respect their opinions even though I disagree completely. It’s obvious that the majority of the writers, tasked with a responsibility none of them wanted, have taken the stance that they need to hold the line to keep these players out of the Hall.

I was pleasantly surprised that the vote totals for the known PED users were so low. I thought they would be around the 50% mark for Bonds and Clemens, but they could only muster support of just over a third of the voting bloc. I never expected Sosa to come anywhere close to election, but his 12.5% was low enough to surprise me. With so many surefire Hall of Famers coming on the ballot in future years, Sosa’s candidacy looks to be extremely short lived and he could fall short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot as early as next year.

The big question is whether the writers stick to their guns in future years. It is entirely possible that many of the voters simply did not want to reward Bonds and Clemens for their behavior and wanted to punish them by making them wait a year. A sizeable number of writers could be inclined to vote for them in 2014. But given the low vote totals, I think Bonds and Clemens will fall short for some time to come, perhaps never reaching that magic 75% threshold.

I do have a problem with voters refusing to vote for players based on suspicion alone, which some experts believe kept Mike Piazza out of the Hall despite his status as the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. I hope that’s not the case and that the vote against Piazza was more about some people thinking he was not a first-ballot guy. Unless some circumstantial or hard evidence surfaces, he deserves to be in the Hall.

I was disappointed that the baseball writers failed to elect some of the more deserving candidates today. But on the known PED users, they got it right. 

Thanks to Jim Accordino via Creative Commons for the Barry Bonds photo and Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the Roger Clemens photo.

Disappointing lack of new Hall of Famers

While it is not a surprise, it sure is a disappointment that none of the very deserving candidates were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today.

Craig Biggio came oh-so-close to election, topping the field with 68.2% of the vote. I was concerned that he might have to wait a few years because of the coming influx of surefire first-ballot candidates next year, but that high vote total indicates to me that he will get in shortly because the few people who thought he should not go in on the first try will likely vote for him in 2014.

The same can’t be said for Jack Morris. I’m frustrated by his static candidacy, with his percentage barely budging in the face of opposition from the overzealous stat geeks. He only has one more shot next year with the baseball writers and it is possible that they will let him in on his last chance. But I don’t think he will get in because he will have to fight for a spot against the likes of first-ballot newcomers such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas and holdovers such as Biggio and Mike Piazza.

Piazza had a solid debut in the voting with 57.8% and even with the crowded ballot, I think he will make it in next year or the year after. He certainly deserves it and his showing makes me believe that he will overcome any suspicions that he was a performance-enhancing drug user, unless some evidence emerges in the next year that he did cheat.  

Tim Raines continued an agonizing slow march toward induction, with his vote percentage rising more than 3% to 52.2%. He has plenty of time on the ballot so I think he has a good chance of getting in, but it might not happen until his last few years of eligibility.  

But it’s sad that these players have to wait at all because they are all very worthy of induction. Better luck next time, guys! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baseball's moment of truth almost here

Baseball’s moment of truth is almost here.

I’m eagerly awaiting the 2pm ET release of the names of the next inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday (I’ll get some work done while I wait). There’s some thought that none of the candidates will reach the necessary 75% threshold to be enshrined in the Hall. I hope that’s not the case. Not because I think it will be so terrible to have an empty dais in Cooperstown this summer, but because I think there are some very worthy candidates deserving of induction.

Of the holdovers, I really hope to see Jack Morris and Tim Raines make it in this year. Morris received 67% of the vote last year even with the outspoken opposition of the stat geeks who hate his 3.90 ERA and wins above replacement numbers. But he was the epitome of a big-game pitcher and tossed one of the most memorable games in baseball history: a 10-inning shutout of the Atlanta Braves that won Game 7 and the 1991 World Series for the Minnesota Twins. It’s going to be an unbelievably tight vote, but I’m really rooting for him to reach that magic 75% mark.

Raines has made a steady climb toward that 75% threshold, but he received only 48.7% of the vote in last year’s balloting so it would be a gigantic leap for him to get to that magic mark this year. But one of the best base stealers of all time deserves to get in. His resume is impressive: 2,605 hits, 808 stolen bases, the 1986 National League batting title and seven All-Star appearances. Oh, and he helped the New York Yankees win the World Series twice, serving as a mentor to future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Put Raines in the Hall.

Of the newcomers, Craig Biggio is the standout for me with his 3,060 hits, seven All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger awards and four Gold Gloves. I’m especially rooting for him to get past this notion that he is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. To me, that’s a silly argument. If he has Hall-worthy numbers, getting in on his first try shouldn’t matter. And I don’t think it’s fair that he may have to sweat out the voting for the next few years if he doesn’t make it in this time around, because the competition will get very tight with guys like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas on the ballot for the first time next year.

I think Mike Piazza, even though he played for the New York Mets, absolutely deserves to get in on his first try. I know that there are people who are suspicious about him and the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs. But there was never evidence of any kind that he used PEDs so I don’t think you can keep him out based on suspicion alone. When you look at his resume, he is clearly deserving of induction with his .308 batting average, 427 home runs, 1,335 runs batted in, 12 All-Star appearances, 10 Silver Slugger awards and 1993 National League Rookie of the Year. I shudder to think how good his numbers would have been if he had not been catching all those years.

I won't bore anyone to death by repeating who I think shouldn't be in the Hall. I'm expecting the PED cheaters to be shunned by the baseball writers, at least in year one on the ballot

Who will be the chosen ones? Will there even be any chosen ones? The answer is a mere 18 hours away.

Thanks to Phil Hoops via Wikipedia for the Tim Raines photo and slgckgc via Wikipedia for the Mike Piazza photo.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Soriano still a man without a team

It’s the New Year and Rafael Soriano still finds himself without a new team.

I can’t help but wonder if his agent Scott Boras seriously misplayed his hand in encouraging Soriano to opt out of his contract with the New York Yankees and then reject a qualifying offer that would have guaranteed him another year in the Bronx. It’s been generally assumed that a team like the Detroit Tigers would swoop in and hand Soriano a rich deal to close baseball games. But with spring training quickly approaching, I’m starting to seriously doubt Soriano is going to get anything close to what Boras likely promised him.

Soriano was great for the Yankees in 2012 and he really stepped up his game when Hall of Fame-bound closer Mariano Rivera went down on that Kansas City warning track. But with Mo saying that his knee is 95% healthy and promising he will be ready for Opening Day, I don’t expect the Yankees to swoop in with a generous, late offer to save Soriano’s free agency, as they did the last time. With Mo on the mend and a very limited budget, Brian Cashman & Co simply have other pressing priorities, meaning Soriano could find himself on the outside looking in for quite some time.