The Week Ahead: Wheeling and dealing

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With the non-waiver trade deadline looming on Friday, this coming week
is one of the most exciting of the baseball season. It’s not quite the
World Series, but is not unlike the World Series of Poker.

Player 1: You don’t want to give up your entire minor league system for my pitcher? Fine, then I’ll deal with this other guy.

Player 2: No problem, I think player No. 3’s pitcher is better anyway.

Player 3: Really? Cool!

You know some teams are bluffing, others are slow-playing their
winning hands, while still others are just hanging around, trying to
gum up the works. That is what is so fascinating about the march to the
trade deadline.

Roy Halladay is, of course, the big prize out there. Will he be traded? Sometimes it seems inevitable, other times unlikely. It all depends on the day of the week hour of the day.

Will Doc go to the Phillies? The Red Sox? The Rangers? Would the Yankees (GASP) part with Joba Chamberlain?

It’s enough to make the head spin. And that’s just Halladay.

What about Cliff Lee, the Indians ace who won the 2008 AL
Cy Young award? The Dodgers, Angels and Phillies (if they’re really
giving up on Halladay) appear to be lurking. Will Cleveland also deal
Victor Martinez?

Looking further down the list, teams might be turning to the likes of Jarrod Washburn, who is quietly having his best season since at least 2002, maybe ever.

With the Mariners’ destruction at the hands of the Indians over the
weekend, the departure of Washburn (scheduled to pitch Tuesday) and
Russell Branyan could be imminent. Could a match be found with the Brewers?

And how about the disaster known as the Washington Nationals? Nick
Johnson, Adam Dunn and others could all be heading (they hope) to
newer, sunnier destinations where fans go to games and jersey
adornments are spelled correctly.

And that, friends, is the tip of the iceberg. It will be a wild week, a
rollercoaster of sketchy rumors, breathless television updates and, of
course, terrific Tweets.

We’ll do our best to keep you updated on everything here at Circling the Bases, as well as on our rumors page.

Oh and one last thing: Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but here are five reasons trade deadline deals are overrated. Don’t let it spoil your fun.

More after the jump …

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH

*Yankees at Rays, July 27-29: The Rays have to at least
hold their own in this series to stay within reach. Especially when you
consider that the Red Sox are right there ahead of them, too.

*Astros at Cubs, July 27-29: The Cubs have ridden a
four-game winning streak to the top of the NL Central. But in this
amazingly tight division, the Astros, just two games back, have a
chance to make some noise.

*Dodgers at Cardinals, July 27-30: The Matt Holliday deal
has Cardinals fans buzzing, although the team has not yet taken off.
Now, with a four-game series against the league’s best team
(record-wise), it’s time to deliver.

*Blue Jays at Mariners, July 27-29: Neither one of these
teams appear to be going anywhere as far as the postseason is
concerned, but the trade deadline is another matter. Jarrod Washburn
and Roy Halladay are both scheduled to pitch in this series, and a
number of other potential trade candidates will take the field.

*Phillies at Giants, July 30-Aug. 2: The defending
champions are on a roll, having won eight of their last 10 games. The
surprising Giants are in the thick of the NL wild card race, but this
four-game series could prove crucial.

ON THE TUBE

Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Dodgers at Cardinals (ESPN)

Wednesday, 7:08 p.m.: Yankees at Rays (ESPN)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Yankees at White Sox (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Royals at Rays (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (FOX)

Sunday, 4 p.m.: Phillies at Giants (TBS)

Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (ESPN)

*Check local listings

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.

Hall of Fame voters are making news, not exercising democratic rights

Cooperstown
Associated Press
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Last month the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class. In the past 24 hours or so, as this year’s Hall of Fame voting period comes to a close, a lot of folks have been talking about that. Most notably in Jayson Stark’s piece over at ESPN regarding next year’s brave new public world.

Stark is pro-transparency on the ballots, as are the vast majority of BBWAA members who voted on the public ballot measure (it passed 80-9). Not everyone Stark quotes in his article is on board with it, though:

“I’ve already seen a lot of people change their votes from one year to the next,” said one of the strongest dissenters to this decision, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “People have changed their votes based on public opinion.”

Two other sources in the story, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report and a voter who asked to remain anonymous equated their Hall of Fame vote with democracy and invoked the sanctity of the secret ballot. “The No. 1 reason I was against this rule is that in this country, it’s a democracy, and everyone has a vote on different things. And I hate to see a blanket rule that forces everyone to go in one direction,” Miller said. Here’s what the anonymous guy said:

“To me, a secret ballot is a fundamental of democracy. You should be able to vote your conscience without having to explain your vote. But once it’s public, you’re open to public pressure. And that’s not what we want in a democracy. We’re not elected representatives. We’re chosen to be part of a voting group.”

This is ridiculous of course. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not exercising democratic rights. It is making news and making history. Hall of Fame voters are making decisions which will fundamentally alter baseball history and which matter greatly to a large number of baseball fans. They are not advancing their own or society’s interests at the ballot box the way citizens do on election day. Despite the fact that the form of their action here is, technically speaking, a ballot, they are making news in the same way a GM makes a news with a trade, the commissioner makes news with a rule change or a team makes news by winning a World Series.

Would any of these voters — who are credentialed members of the media, by the way, and like to style themselves as truth-seeking members of the Fourth Estate — accept silence from the people who make the news on the beat they cover? Would they be content if the newsmakers whose acts they chronicle demanded anonymity the way they themselves do now? Of course they wouldn’t. And if they got the same silent treatment they’d prefer to give, they’d write one of those petulant little columns they love about players who “duck the press” after a game.

Suck it up, journalists. Act the way you expect the newsmakers you cover to act and own your decisions. Don’t pretend for a moment that you’re not the subject of, and not the reporter of, the story when Hall of Fame season comes around.