The Hall of Fame: it's all about the money

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Next time you hear Hall of Famers spout off about how the steroids cheats should be kept out, keep in mind that it may very well be more than the alleged integrity of the institution that they’re
protecting. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame can mean lots and lots of cash:

On the day Mr. Gossage’s election was announced, in mid-January
2007, I spent several hours with him and his agent, Andrew Levy. Their
cellphones never stopped ringing. Mr. Gossage bantered with George
Brett, Joe Torre and other baseball friends who called to offer
congratulations. Meanwhile, Mr. Levy furiously fielded business offers.
“Until now, he’s been getting between $7,500 and $10,000 per speech,”
Mr. Levy told me. “Today, his price just tripled.” The Goose had laid a
golden egg . . .

. . . In recent years the money pot has grown as the Hall of Fame,
which produces and markets its own line of merchandise, has been forced
to give 30% of the profits to its inductees. According to Marvin
Miller, very likely the world’s greatest expert on baseball economics,
this helps explain why the Veterans Committee, composed of Hall of
Famers, consistently refuses to exercise its mandate to elect
previously overlooked old-timers. “Nobody wants to dilute the value of
his stock,” Mr. Miller told me.

And it’s not as if it’s only the people on the inside who are treating
this like a business. As the article notes, the most famous of those on
the outside looking in — Ron Santo, Bert Blyleven, the estate of
Shoeless Joe Jackson and Davy Concepcion — all have what amounts to
professional lobbying and P.R. representation working for them.
Jackson’s heirs, the article tells us, can expect a boost of of a half
million bucks a year in marketing opportunities if and when he’s ever
inducted. Joe Morgan isn’t even the craziest guy out there campaigning
for Concepcion: “The government of Venezuela hired Washington lobbyist
Tim Gay to mount a Hall of Fame campaign for Hugo Chávez’s favorite
shortstop, Dave Concepcion.”

Given this weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, you’re going
to hear a ton about this allegedly august institution. About who is
outside looking in. About who deserves to be there and who doesn’t.
About how allowing Barry Bonds and his fellow travellers in would
simply corrupt the place. Don’t take it seriously. Because while the
Hall of Fame is a great museum, the Hall of Fame induction game is a
business like anything else, and it’s owed just as much reverence as
Wal-Mart, Google, Congress or any other useful yet ultimately
self-interested institution.

(Thanks to Neate Sager for the link)

CC Sabathia: getting in shape and ready for baseball

sabathia getty
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CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.

He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.

 

Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.

Royals, Mike Moustakas avoid arbitration with two-year deal

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Seriesagainst the Toronto Blue Jays  on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.

The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.