Hall of Fame Review
Since there were no inductees this year, I will add a segment to one email instead of adding a whole new one. This year, for the first time since 1996, not a single player was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Good for it; the HOF needed it. Today, too many players are being inducted (see Deacon White, Barry Larkin, Ron Santo), and it is, while not quite threatening, effecting the integrity of the Hall. Of the players on the board, I think only two deserved to get in: Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Barry Bonds, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mike Piazza would all be left off my ballot had I been a BBWAA member for more than ten years. Here is my argument for Biggio. Craig, who got more of the vote (68.2%) than anybody else this year (75% is needed for induction), played twenty seasons, all for one team. In Houston, he earned five Silver Sluggers and four Gold Gloves and was named to seven All Star teams, all while playing center field, left field, second base, and even catcher. He knocked 3060 hits, 668 of which were doubles and 291 of which were home runs. He also stole 414 bases and was an undisputed leader for the Astros. In 1998, he hit 20 home runs, batted .325, stole 50 bases, doubled 51 times, and scored 123 times. He was the Derek Jeter of Houston, the Cal Ripken Jr., the cultural icon. Now for teammate Jeff Bagwell. He only played 15 years, but again, it was all with the Astros. He hit 449 home runs, batted .297, and stole 202 bases. His awards stacked up to a Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove, an MVP, and three Silver Sluggers, and he was named to four All Star teams. In his MVP 1994, he hit 39 home runs, knocked in 116, and batted .368 with 15 stolen bases, all in a strike shortened season where he played in 110 games. Among all the hype and controversy about steroids (which keep Clemens, Piazza, Bonds, and Sosa off my list), Bagwell's name was never mentioned. As far as we know (which is a saying in and of itself that blows up many a debate), he played clean his entire career. Now Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa put up numbers that without the steroid issues, would unanimously put them into the Hall of Fame. On sheer numbers, Barry Bonds is the best player of all time. He could have made the Hall without doing steroids. Of course, though, the Hall of Fame voting guideline states that a player must have played with integrity and respect to the game. Steroids don't fit that bill. This is why I would not be able to vote for those players.
The Hall of Fame voting came in, and for the first time since 1996, no players were inducted.
Free Agent Signings
Nationals resigned Adam LaRoche (33 HR, 100 RBI, .271 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 33) to a two year, $24 million deal ($12 million per season).
Rangers signed Lance Berkman (2 HR, 7 RBI, .259 AVG, 2 SB, 2013 age: 37) to a one year, $10 million deal.
Indians signed Brett Myers (3-8, 3.31 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 19 saves, 2013 age: 32) to a one year, $7 million deal.
Dodgers signed J.P. Howell (1-0, 3.04 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) to a one year, $2.85 million deal.
Rangers also signed Jason Frasor (1-1, 4.12 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 2013 age: 35) to a one year, $1.5 million deal.
Padres signed Cody Ransom (11 HR, 42 RBI, .220 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 37) to a minor league deal.
Nationals fans can rest easy; Adam LaRoche is coming back for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, as well as a mutual option for the 2015 season. The big bopper known for his towering home runs to right field and his excellent defense at first base was holding out for a three year deal, but never got it and signed back with the Nats for two years. Exactly two years and a day prior to Tuesday's signing, LaRoche signed a two year deal to begin his tenure with Washington. Coming off a 25 homer, 100 RBI season, LaRoche crumbled with injury in 2011, hitting just three home runs and batting .172 in 43 games. 2012 was a completely different story. One of just a handful of Nationals to stay healthy the entire season, he ended up with 33 home runs and 100 RBI, this time in 154 games, a new career high. He homered twice in the NLDS against the Cardinals, but it wasn't enough to move the Nationals on. LaRoche's signing puts Michael Morse's 2013 status up in the air. He could either move to the bench and become the best bench player in baseball, where he would get fill in starts for LaRoche and the three outfielders (Bryce Harper, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth), or he could be traded. The Nationals are not going to force a deal for Morse, but they will also pay attention to and study potential deals. If he is traded, the Nats want pitching prospects or a left handed reliever in return. I like Jake McGee of the Rays and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners.
Lance Berkman has decided not to retire, and will return to his home state of Texas. He grew up outside of San Antonio in New Braunfels, then played the first eleven and a half years of his career for the Houston Astros. Despite a rough 2012, he is just one year removed from a great 2011. For the World Champion Cardinals, he hit 31 home runs, knocked in 94, and batted .301 in 145 games. With 360 home runs, 1200 RBI, and a .296 career average, he brings a plethora of major league experience to Texas, where he will share first base duties with Mitch Moreland. 2006 was probably his best season, when he hit 45 home runs, knocked in 136, and batted .315 in 152 games for the Astros. He is a good postseason performer, having hit nine home runs and batted .317 over 52 games. He is even better in the World Series, batting .410 with a home run and eleven RBI over eleven games for the Astros (2005) and Cardinals (2011).
Indians traded Jeanmar Gomez (5-8, 5.96 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 2013 age: 25) to the Pirates for minor leaguer Quincy Latimore (15 HR, 71 RBI, .252 AVG, 10 SB at AA, 2013 age: 24).
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies
If your team is not included, please email me and I will add them.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage