Free Agency Preview: Outfielders

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Free Agency Preview – Catcher
Free Agency Preview – First base & DH
Free Agency Preview – Second base
Free Agency Preview – Third base
Free Agency Preview – Shortstop
This is part six in a series of columns looking at this winter’s free agents, trade candidates and non-tender possibilities. I’ll be making predictions for the key free agents, but try not to take them too awfully seriously. The outfield is up now.
Matt Holliday (Cardinals) – It was an open question whether CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira would get the offseason’s biggest free agent contract last winter, but there’s no doubt who will fare best this time around. Holliday has an MVP award to his credit, he’s just 29 and there isn’t really a flaw to his game. He’s not one of the game’s 10 best players, but there’s very good reason to think he’ll be a true star for a few more years and a fine regular for the duration of his next contract. His suitors figure to come from the usual suspects: the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Angels. Not all of them will be involved, but one or two will likely face off with the Cardinals once the bidding gets serious. Agent Scott Boras may need the Yankees there in the end if the final price tag is going to exceed $120 million for six years, and I’m not sure the Bombers will go that route, even though the money is almost certainly there. Prediction: Red Sox – six years, $120 million
Jason Bay (Red Sox) – Bay outhit Holliday last season, but he’s the older player by a year and a half and a much weaker defender. While Holliday should be a solid enough left fielder into his mid-30s, Bay would already by more valuable as a first baseman or a designated hitter now. Of course, he still has a lot to offer. Unlike Holliday, he’s proven he can be a force in the American League and he could continue to put up the better power numbers of the two. If the Red Sox could sign him for $60 million for four years, they’d probably lock him up and exit the Holliday chase. It’d make more sense to go to six years for Holliday than five for Bay, though. The Yankees, Angels, Giants and Cardinals could factor in here. Prediction: Angels – five years, $75 million
Johnny Damon (Yankees) – Now 36, Damon has lost most of his defensive value, but he turned in one of his best offensive season in 2009, finishing at .282/.365/.489 with a career high-tying 24 homers. He also came up big in both the ALCS and World Series for the Yankees. Going into the postseason, it was conceivable that the Yankees would offer Damon only a one-year deal to stick around. However, that’d be quite an insult after such a strong campaign, and while Damon would almost certainly prefer to stay with the Bombers, he’s certain to get multiyear offers from other clubs, perhaps even the Yankees’ crosstown rival. At worst, Damon should get the same kind of two-year, $19 million contract that Bobby Abreu received to remain with the Angels. Prediction: Yankees – two years, $22 million
Hideki Matsui (Yankees) – Bay and Holliday are the only free agents who finished with higher OPSs than Matsui’s 876 mark last season, and Matsui, of course, starred again in the postseason, hitting .349 with four homers in 43 at-bats and taking home World Series MVP honors. That’s going to be hard to top. Matsui is 35, and he’s missed big chunks of two of the last four seasons. His knees may never again allow him to play the outfield on a regular basis. Reports of the Red Sox potentially offering him a four-year deal were ludicrous, but Matsui might land a three-year pact if he’s willing to shop himself around. Still, everyone knows that he wants to remain with the Yankees and the Bombers would almost certainly like him back for at least one more year. As with Damon, there’s a compromise to be worked out here. Prediction: Yankees – two years, $18 million
Vladimir Guerrero (Angels) – While 2009 was obviously the worst season of his career, Guerrero hit .300/.347/.498 after the break and .378/.425/.541 in nine postseason games, all while always falling short of 100 percent physically. Considering that he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in April, it was impressive that he came back as well as he did. If Guerrero could still play the outfield on a regular basis, a three-year deal in excess of $10 million per season would be fitting. As a full-time DH, though, he’d hardly seem worthy of such a commitment. If he wants to remain on the West Coast, he needs to hope the Giants or A’s get involved, since the Angels seem to want to go in a different direction. Otherwise, Texas would make a ton of sense. Prediction: Rangers – two years, $18 million
Mike Cameron (Brewers) – Cameron gave the Brewers plenty of value for their $16.25 million over the last two seasons, yet GM Doug Melvin nearly traded him for Melky Cabrera a year ago and was quick to rule him out of the team’s 2010 plans this winter when he traded J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez earlier this month. Unfortunately for Cameron, the teams currently desperate for center field help — the White Sox, Royals and Padres — have tight payroll restrictions this winter. The Cubs have a need, but it’s doubtful that they’ll value him properly. Perhaps the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets could look at him if other plans go awry, but I’m lacking a good guess on where he might end up. He may not get the two-year, $20 million deal he deserves. Prediction: Braves – one year, $8 million
Jermaine Dye (White Sox) – Dye was an MVP candidate for three months last season, hitting .302/.375/.567 with 22 homers before the break. However, the word collapse is hardly strong enough for what followed. Dye hit just .179/.293/.297 the rest of the way to finish with a sub-800 OPS for the first time since 2004. Dye can probably bounce back a bit offensively at age 36, but he’s a hideous defender at this point and he’s always come up short in big situations. It’d be crazy to give him more than a one-year deal. I’m guessing he lands in San Francisco or Texas. Prediction: Giants – one year, $8 million
Marlon Byrd (Rangers) – Byrd’s case now looks a lot like Gary Matthews Jr.’s did three years ago before he secured a five-year, $50 million contract with the Angels: journeyman part-time center fielder heads to Texas, gets nice boost from hitter friendly ballpark and grows into full-time role just in time for free agency. Like Matthews three years ago, Byrd is 32 now. He doesn’t have Matthews’ defensive reputation, but he has been the more consistent hitter of the two. Of course, Byrd isn’t going to get a five-year deal; the market has changed since 2007 and so many other center fielders have been busts after getting long-term contracts. Byrd, though, might get three years. The Cubs would like him if they could move Milton Bradley, and the Giants have a history of targeting players like Byrd. Prediction: White Sox – three years, $20 million
Rick Ankiel (Cardinals) – In theory, Ankiel is the one free agent outfielder whose best years are still ahead of him. The former pitcher would have been set up for a big long-term deal had he matched his .264/.337/.506 line from 2008 last season. However, he slipped all of the way to .231/.285/.387 in a season riddled with injuries. Ankiel still hasn’t proven he can stay healthy for a full season, and he does have holes in his swing. Also, he’s probably not a long-term option in center field. Odds are that he’ll accept a one-year contract in an attempt to rebuild his value. The Jays, White Sox, Padres, Pirates and Marlins are some of the teams that may look to gamble on him. Prediction: Marlins – one year, $4 million
Coco Crisp (Royals) – Crisp got off to an excellent start as Kansas City’s leadoff hitter and center fielder before his shoulder started bothering him. His play quickly fell off, and he ended up undergoing season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in June. Crisp should be ready to play next season, and he could turn out to be a bargain. He’s one of the few legitimate leadoff options available, and he’ll probably be an above average defender for a couple of more years anyway. Prediction: Padres – one year, $4 million
Xavier Nady (Yankees) – It’s not a lock, but Nady will probably be ready for Opening Day following Tommy John surgery in July. It’d help if he signed as a first baseman, since he wouldn’t have to make any long throws, but there figures to be more interest in him as an outfielder. Nady was supposed to start over Nick Swisher for the Yankees last season after hitting .305/.357/.510 in 2008. There will probably be a few teams interested in him as a regular, and the Cardinals have already let him know they like him. Prediction: Cardinals – one year, $3 million
Randy Winn (Giants) – With his 790 OPSs and excellent defense in right field, Winn was a fine regular for the Giants in 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, he fell all of the way to .262/.318/.353 last season and the Giants have decided to go in a different direction now. Winn may well be an adequate regular in center field for another year or two, but given that he hasn’t played that position regularly since 2004, it’s hard to imagine any team signing him as a starter there. The contenders figure to view him as more of a fourth outfielder. Prediction: Mariners – one year, $2.5 million
Other free agents: Austin Kearns (Nationals), Marcus Thames (Tigers), Andruw Jones (Rangers), Scott Podsednik (White Sox), Rocco Baldelli (Red Sox), Reed Johnson (Cubs), Endy Chavez (Mariners), Gary Sheffield (Mets), Fernando Tatis (Mets), Brian Giles (Padres), Eric Hinske (Yankees), Frank Catalanotto (Brewers), Garret Anderson (Braves), Matt Stairs (Phillies), Chris Duncan (Red Sox), Jason Michaels (Astros), Darin Erstad (Astros), Chris Denorfia (Athletics), Corey Patterson (Brewers), Wily Mo Pena (Mets), Jeff Fiorentino (Orioles), Bobby Kielty (Mets), Craig Monroe (Pirates), Jeff Salazar (Pirates), Alex Romero (Diamondbacks), David Dellucci (Blue Jays), Emil Brown (Mets), Jacque Jones (Reds), Darnell McDonald (Reds), Chris Burke (Padres), Joey Gathright (Red Sox), Brent Clevlen (Tigers), Bobby Scales (Cubs), Freddy Guzman (Yankees), Drew Macias (Padres), Jerry Owens (Mariners), Russ Adams (Padres)
The first eight players here all look like $2 million players to me. Kearns and Baldelli offer considerable upside. Andruw and Sheffield showed last season that they still have something to offer, even if they’re no longer capable of getting it done for six months at a time. Thames, Johnson and Chavez are fine role players. As for Podsednik, well, I’d avoid him entirely, but he may well get the biggest contract of the bunch.
Giles, one of the NL’s best outfielders in 2008, was such a disaster during the first 2 1/2 months of last season that the Padres wrote him off for the rest of the year. He turns 39 in January, but he deserves one more chance. Maybe the A’s will give it to him. … Pity the fans of the team that signs Anderson to play regularly. He was a big liability offensively and defensively for the Braves last season, and there’s just no reason to prefer him to someone like Hinske or Duncan, neither of whom are likely to be regulars themselves.

Trade candidates: Carl Crawford (Rays), B.J. Upton (Rays), Curtis Granderson (Tigers), Adam Dunn (Nationals), Josh Willingham (Nationals), Brad Hawpe (Rockies), Carlos Lee (Astros – NTC), Ryan Ludwick (Cardinals), David DeJesus (Royals), Corey Hart (Brewers), Chris Young (Diamondbacks), Delmon Young (Twins), Luke Scott (Orioles), Melky Cabrera (Yankees), David Murphy (Rangers), Jonny Gomes (Reds), Chris Dickerson (Reds), Ryan Spilborghs (Rockies), Milton Bradley (Cubs), Pat Burrell (Rays), Vernon Wells (Blue Jays – NTC), Aaron Rowand (Giants – limited NTC), Juan Pierre (Dodgers – limited NTC), Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks), Matt Joyce (Rays), Felix Pie (Orioles), Josh Reddick (Red Sox), Jeremy Hermida (Red Sox), Jack Cust (Athletics), Ryan Sweeney (Athletics), Travis Buck (Athletics), Eric Patterson (Athletics), Willie Harris (Nationals), Ryan Church (Braves), Wilkin Ramirez (Tigers), John Bowker (Giants), Fred Lewis (Giants), Brandon Moss (Pirates), Tony Gwynn Jr. (Padres), Eric Byrnes (Diamondbacks – NTC), Gary Matthews Jr. (Angels – limited NTC), Jose Guillen (Royals), Willy Taveras (Reds), John Mayberry Jr. (Phillies), Reggie Willits (Angels), Terry Evans (Angels), Matt Murton (Rockies), Clete Thomas (Tigers), Trevor Crowe (Indians), Xavier Paul (Dodgers), Wladimir Balentien (Reds), Brandon Jones (Braves), Brian Barton (Braves), Gregor Blanco (Braves), Joe Mather (Cardinals), Nick Stavinoha (Cardinals), Brandon Boggs (Rangers), Craig Gentry (Rangers), Roger Bernadina (Nationals), Casper Wells (Tigers), Luis Durango (Padres)
Yeah, that’s a lot of names. I doubt Crawford, Upton, Dunn or Lee is going anywhere. Granderson might, but the mediocre market for center fielders makes it less likely. Of the bigger names, Hawpe appears to be the best bet to depart. The Rockies have four major league outfielders without him, and they could use the extra cash. Hawpe is due $7.5 million next season. … It appeared that the Twins decided on their outfield when they sent Carlos Gomez to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy. Young, though, may yet be available if his improvement at the end of the season creates any serious suitors. The Twins could vastly upgrade their outfield defense by moving Young and signing a Cameron or a Crisp to play center.
The A’s have to decide which outfielders are keepers from a group that includes Scott Hairston, Rajai Davis, Cust, Sweeney, Buck, Patterson and Aaron Cunningham. If the season started tomorrow, they’d probably have Hairtson in left, Davis in center, Sweeney in right and Cust at DH. However, they may want to upgrade at one of those spots. I’d be surprised if Buck isn’t dealt. … Byrnes and Tavaras look like candidates to be released if the Diamondbacks and Reds can’t shed portions of their contracts in trades.

Non-tender candidates: Jack Cust (Athletics), Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks), Ryan Church (Braves), Jody Gerut (Brewers), Gabe Gross (Rays), Alfredo Amezaga (Marlins), Matt Murton (Rockies), Brian Anderson (Red Sox), Cory Sullivan (Mets), Jeremy Reed (Mets), Mike Morse (Nationals), Laynce Nix (Reds), Josh Anderson (Royals), Mitch Maier (Royals), Lou Montanez (Orioles), Jason Repko (Dodgers), Ryan Langerhans (Mariners), Alejandro De Aza (White Sox), Jason Pridie (Twins), Justin Ruggiano (Rays), Don Kelly (Tigers), Yordany Ramirez (Astros)
Cust probably bought himself another year by rebounding to hit .250/.399/.426 after the All-Star break. Still, he’s due $4 million or so in arbitration and it’s doubtful that he’d earn any more than that as a free agent. … Jackson, who needed to prove he’s healthy in order to guarantee his spot with the Diamondbacks, is currently batting .425 in 73 at-bats in the Dominican Winter League. He should be back as Arizona’s starting left fielder. … The Braves will likely seek an upgrade from Church. He’d probably earn a bit over $3 million in arbitration.
2010-11 free agents: Carl Crawford (Rays), Manny Ramirez (Dodgers), Jayson Werth (Phillies), Adam Dunn (Nationals), Brad Hawpe (Rockies)*, Jason Kubel (Twins)*, David DeJesus (Royals)*, Magglio Ordonez (Tigers)*, Pat Burrell (Rays), Jose Guillen (Royals), Eric Byrnes (Diamondbacks), Willie Harris (Nationals), Jody Gerut (Brewers), Willy Taveras (Reds), Alfredo Amezaga (Marlins), Willie Bloomquist (Royals), Mark Kotsay (White Sox), Gabe Kapler (Rays)
2011 options: Hawpe – $10 million ($500,000 buyout, voidable if traded), Kubel – $5.25 million ($350,000 buyout), DeJesus – $6 million ($500,000 buyout), Ordonez – $15 million (vests with 540 PA or 135 games started)
2011-12 free agents: Grady Sizemore (Indians)*, Carlos Beltran (Mets), Shane Victorino (Phillies), J.D. Drew (Red Sox), Vernon Wells (Blue Jays)*, Nate McLouth (Braves)*, Nick Swisher (Yankees)*, Michael Cuddyer (Twins), Corey Hart (Brewers), Raul Ibanez (Phillies), Bobby Abreu (Angels)*, Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks), Ryan Ludwick (Cardinals), Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs), Carlos Guillen (Tigers), Milton Bradley (Cubs), Juan Rivera (Angels), Josh Willingham (Nationals), Jeremy Hermida (Red Sox), Scott Hairston (Athletics), Jeff Francoeur (Mets), Cody Ross (Marlins), Ryan Church (Braves), Jonny Gomes (Reds), Juan Pierre (Dodgers), Jack Cust (Athletics), Matt Diaz (Braves), Gabe Gross (Rays), Gary Matthews Jr. (Angels), Cory Sullivan (Mets), Jeremy Reed (Mets), Ryan Langerhans (Mariners), Laynce Nix (Reds)
2012 options: Sizemore – $8.5 million ($500,000 buyout), Wells – $63 million player option for 2012-14, McLouth – $10.65 million ($1.25 million buyout), Swisher – $10.25 million ($1 million buyout), Abreu – $9 million vesting option ($1 million buyout)

Did Tony Clark sacrifice the future in order to make a deal now?

Tony Clark
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We broke down what we know of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement yesterday. Today Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a far more in depth look at the various provisions in the deal and provides a lot of behind the scenes stuff about how MLB and the union got from A to B.

There’s a lot to chew on there. A lot of minutiae and money talk that, truth be told, most fans don’t care too much about, even if it does have repercussions for how teams do business and, eventually, the product they put on the field. Passan deals with almost all aspects of that, concluding that, while this deal will ensure baseball for the next five years, it may very well lay the groundwork for future labor strife and a possible increase in differences between baseball’s haves and baseball’s have-nots going forward.

You should read it all if you care about this stuff, but there are two takeaways I have from all of it that, I think, suggest serious trouble ahead. Maybe not this year or next, but in future player-owner negotiations: (1) the union, for the first time ever, agreed to a hard cap on player compensation, in the form of a hard limit on international player bonuses; and (2) the union agreed to major provisions without securing player consensus. Both of these developments are described by Passan thusly:

The desire of a vocal segment of players to avoid an international draft at all costs was abundantly clear, and ultimately – over the objection of a number of top players and officials – the union took that position: No deal until there’s no draft. MLB saw an opportunity and instead got the cost containment it desired without having to spend a penny on the infrastructure a draft would necessitate. The league asked for a hard cap on money spent internationally and couldn’t believe its fortune: The union acceded, a stunning reversal from past negotiations when a hard cap of any kind, be it on team salaries, draft spending or international money, was rejected outright.

I and many others had opposed an international draft, but that its avoidance came at the cost of a hard cap was surprising. And, as I noted yesterday, that the cap is as low as it is — $5-6 million — was equally surprising. The owners got the cost containment that they wanted, did nothing to address the concerns they claimed they had about the exploitation of amateurs, and, for the first time in history, got a hard cap on spending. Even draft bonus slotting, which has been in place for a while, has some give and take to it that the new cap does not have.

But I’m more surprised to see that the union was not in solidarity when it came to all of this. Passan quotes one player, who he says speaks for many, who said the international draft negotiation was “hijacked” by a subset of players and that there is great disunity as to how it all turned out. This is new territory for the Players Union. While there has been some infighting among players in recent years with respect to drug testing, there has never been public disunity when it comes to pocketbook matters. The MLBPA’s power — the very reason it was able to beat the owners for over 30 years straight and become, arguably, the most successful union in all of organized labor — came by virtue of its solidarity. A solidarity that seems to be unprecedentedly absent this time around.

For now, this may not matter. A deal is done and there will be baseball for the next five seasons. But it’s easy to smooth over disagreements when everyone is rich. Right now baseball is flush with cash and revenues are increasing. What happens if that stops?

What happens if, as some have predicted, the cable money stops flowing into baseball’s coffers? ESPN has lost over a million subscribers in the past two months. People are cutting cords. I have a lot of faith in cable companies, large broadcast networks and sports leagues to find new ways to sell sports to people and do not predict a shocking doomsday, but the model that has driven baseball’s revenue for the past decade or two is not etched in stone. There will be flux and, if more pessimistic predictions come to pass, there could be a serious disruption in baseball’s revenue streams. An RSN could very well declare bankruptcy or decide that it would cost them less to simply breach a contract with a club or the league than to continue to pay them. Whatever happens, the only constant in media over the past 25 years has been change and there is no law saying networks have to pay baseball teams a billion dollars to show baseball games.

So, flash forward five years and presume, for the moment, that baseball’s revenues have been flat or falling. And say the owners decide that it’s time to revive their 1980s-90s strategy of capping salaries for major league players. Sure, the players will fight it, but they’ve lost the ability to say that hard caps are, by definition, unacceptable. They’ve caved on the topic for the first time, thus making any case they would make to the owners and to their own rank and file that much harder to articulate. Why, might a 2021 union member who was subject to a cap in 2017 think, is a cap that only really affects some veterans on his club such a bad thing? Maybe it’s OK? And why, might an owner’s representative at the bargaining table think, should we believe that Tony Clark won’t cave now? He came off of Marvin Miller and Don Fehr’s hard line in 2016. Maybe he will again. It’s worth a try!

All of which makes more work for Clark and the union to fight serious threats if they are presented to them, and the harder you have to work to shore up your own side in a negotiation, the less power you have to fight the other side. Clark will have to expend far more effort to argue harder and to rally his own troops now that he doesn’t have a baseline principle to which everyone is in agreement. And if that “hijacked” sentiment Passan noted above is any indication, Clark showed that he was either unable to generate solidarity on an important matter this year or, more worrisome, that he was uninterested in doing so. Is there any guarantee that he can do a better job later, when the threats are greater?

As I noted at the beginning, it’s good that we will have baseball, uninterrupted, for the next five seasons. It’s good that a deal was done. But the more we learn about the new CBA, the more it seems that reaching that deal cost the union quite a bit in terms of solidarity and principle. The players may not have to pay much if anything for that now, but bills always have a way of coming due.

Breaking Down Today’s Game Hall of Fame Ballot: Davey Johnson

1990:  Manager Davey Johnson of the New York Mets looks on the field before a game in the 1990 season. ( Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. Next up: Davey Johnson

The case for his induction:

As we note each year when the Manager of the Year Awards are announced, it’s hard to properly assess managers. A team’s performance is so heavily dependent on talent and health that it’s often difficult to determine what role a manager truly plays in its success. Bruce Bochy won three World Series titles in five seasons but the Giants disappointed in the second half of 2016. Did he suddenly forget how to manage? Of course not. Stuff happens.

Over time, however, it’s a bit easier. No, you can’t simply go on the number of titles a guy won, but patterns certainly emerge and a manager’s influence begins to reveal itself over decades. And there is a definite pattern for Davey Johnson: he, quite simply, won everywhere he went. Teams which hired hims saw marked improvement soon after he came on board and, for some reason, declined right after he left. Funny that.

Johnson managed for 17 seasons and won 1,372 games, posting a .562 winning percentage. He was twice named Manager of the Year. He won the 1986 World Series with the Mets, led his clubs to first place finishes in his division six times and second place finishes eight times, making the playoffs in six seasons overall. He would’ve likely won another division title and made another playoff appearance but for the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Johnson was on the scene as the Mets ascended to greatness and they descended into trash not long after he left. He did his best under a combustible owner in Cincinnati, managed to maintain the success Lou Piniella had there and the team got worse after he left. The Orioles were a sub-.500 team before he arrived, he took them to the playoffs twice, he left and they spent more than a decade in the wilderness. The Nationals made the playoffs for the first time after he took over. Only the Dodgers did not see dramatic improvement under Johnson, but nor did they really decline.

Johnson was also an innovator when it came to analytics. He was a big proponent of lineup optimization, using computers and math to do so way before his peers did. When it comes to platooning and putting players in niche roles which allowed them to maximize their talents, Johnson had few if any peers among his contemporaries. It was him and La Russa, really, with everyone else far behind.

The case against his induction:

His aggregate win total is pretty low compared to modern managers who have been inducted by the Veterans Committee, primarily due to his not managing anywhere from 2001 through 2010. If he had padded that resume with even sub-.500 clubs he’d have win totals which exceeded Casey Stengel, Walter Alston and Leo Durocher. As it is, he’s 31st all-time in wins, just below the still-active Terry Francona and just above Chuck Tanner. Even if his winning percentage is higher than the majority of managers ahead of him, those totals have harmed his case and make him pale compared to contemporaries like La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre. That’s an unfair standard — those three are among the all-time greats — but that’s who voters will likely compare him to. If he had two or three World Series titles he may have been able to overcome the win totals, but he doesn’t.

A second factor that also has a lot to do with optics as opposed to merit is that Johnson was seen as having great timing, having been hired by the Mets just as Frank Cashen assembled a killer roster of young talent and later being hired by teams which were already poised to win. That should not be held against Johnson — he could only manage the teams he was given — but some people have knocked him in the past for swooping into good situations as opposed to being on the ground floor of winning organizations. It’s dumb, but it’s a thing I’ve heard people say.

One other factor that may or may not play into this: Johnson had a difficult time getting along with the front offices who employed him, leading to short tenures in Cincinnati, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Personally I think not getting along with Marge Schott and Peter Angelos is a sign of good character, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that Johnson was a prickly character himself. Should that affect his Hall of Fame case? No. Will it? Maybe. Depends who is on the committee voting for him.

Would I vote for him?

I would. The only other manager who had the immediate impact Johnson had everywhere he went was Billy Martin. The guy just won and won in many different places under a lot of different circumstances. I wish we could point to some metric that definitively told us who was a good manager and who wasn’t, but in the absence of that I can’t help but look at Davey Johnson and say “man, that guy was a good manager.” One of the best of his era and, I feel, worthy of induction.

Will the Committee vote for him?

I’m pessimistic. Johnson’s win totals, extended absence in the 2000s and subsequent lack of disciples and proteges in the world of baseball make him feel like more of an outsider than a lot of other retired managers. His greatest exploits seem like they happened a long, long time ago and I feel like he has become under-appreciated as a result. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he gets in, but suspect he will not.