Not a ton of people are familiar with the story of Carl Mays these days, but know this much: he threw a pitch that killed a guy once. It was the only time a Major Leaguer has been killed on the field. The whole story, as written at the time, can be read here. In an environment where beer-throwers inspire media firestorms, one can only wonder what would have happened to Mays if, instead of killing Ray Chapman in 1920, he had killed Grady Sizemore in 2009.
Not that Mays didn’t suffer scorn in his lifetime. He never truly lived it down, despite having an otherwise fine career. But time heals all wounds, and some folks are now trying their best to rehabilitate the guy:
Eighty-nine years later, a handful of people are trying to get him recognized for what was one of the best careers of his era, long overshadowed by baseball’s only lethal pitch. Their goal is to have Mays enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s time he got recognized for his accomplishments, not just for this one accident,” said Ann Duckworth of Mansfield, the tiny Ozarks town where Mays was raised and spent many offseasons.
I guess everyone needs a hobby, but Mays doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy you want to go to the mat for. In addition to the Ray Chapman incident, Mays was long-rumored to have been in on a plot to fix the 1921 World Series, though it was never proven. He was also an ornery cuss, who many people didn’t like separate and apart from the fact that he killed a guy many people did like.
The Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame — the real one, not just the Missouri one — is still considering him. I don’t get the sense that there’s any traction behind his case, and that’s probably how it should be.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.