Peavy, A-Gone and beer-fueled trade rumors

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jake-peavy-091123.jpgAbout a week ago, rumors cropped up that the Chicago White Sox were looking into dealing for San Diego Padres stud Adrian Gonzalez.

There didn’t seem to be much to the rumors. The Chicago Tribune gave credence to a report that the White Sox, Angels and Padres had discussed a three-way deal that would send Gonzalez to Chicago and Paul Konerko to Anaheim. Then the Chicago Sun-Times trashed the idea, and the whole thing kind of went away.

But then just the other day, a Chicago White Sox blogger wrote about his “Evening With Jake Peavy,” in which the White Sox pitcher allegedly dropped this bombshell during a friendly encounter at a bar:

“We’re trying to get Adrian Gonzalez right now too.” I was like…”Really? I heard about that, but didn’t know if it was true.” He nodded and took another drink.

Peavy, of course, is a former teammate of Gonzalez, so it’s possible he has some inside information on trade talks. It’s also possible he simply saw the reports that everyone else saw. And thirdly, it’s possible that Peavy didn’t say it at all.

Even the author admits that “I’m sure there are some things about the meeting that I might be forgetting. I’ve tried to remember as much as I can, but I was also slightly buzzed at the time.”

It reminds of an encounter I had with a big-league pitcher back in 1997. I was out with some friends drinking beers, watching a cover band play classic rock tunes and having a nice, mellow night. I remember the band had a guest guitar player who didn’t really fit in with the rest of the scruffy group.

This guy wore a blue sport coat, had a $100 haircut and flashed a million-dollar smile. And although he strummed his Fender and moved his lips into the mic, my ears couldn’t pick out either his voice or his instrument. Clearly this band had an astute sound man.

During a break in the action, the band introduced their guest as Mark Langston, a 13-year veteran at the time who would hang on for a couple more years before calling it quits with a 179-158 record and 3.97 ERA.

My friends and I being Mariners fans, we couldn’t miss a chance to talk to our former hero after the show, even though he had left the team eight years earlier in the famous trade that brought Randy Johnson to Seattle.

We chatted with Langston for a bit, asked him how he was doing, and if he was going to play in 1998. He said he felt good, and that it looked like he would be with the San Diego Padres in the upcoming season, which turned out to be true. Then he autographed my buddy’s shirt and said it was a pleasure meeting us. On his way out the door, he stopped and turned back to us, offered us his phone number, and told us to give him a call if we ever made it down to San Diego. Free tickets were ours for the taking.

Of course, it’s possible it didn’t quite happen that way. That was 12 years ago, and I was slightly buzzed at the time.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Looking Ahead to Next Year’s Hall of Fame Ballot

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 15:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves stands in the on-deck circle prior to batting against the Cincinnati Reds at Turner Field on May 15, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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We’re only a night’s sleep removed from the 2017 Hall of Fame class being announced but, hey, why not look ahead to next year’s ballot?

After yesterday’s vote there are two guys clearly banging on the door: Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. It’d be shocking if they didn’t get in.

Also back, of course, and already polling over 50%, which tends to ensure eventual election, are Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); and Mike Mussina (51.8). All of them are worthy and each of them should have some segment of the baseball commentariat pushing their cases.

But the new class of eligibles is formidable too. Let’s take a preliminary look at everyone we’ll be arguing about next December:

  • Chipper Jones: You have to figure he’s a first ballot guy;
  • Jim Thome: 612 homers will say a lot and, I suspect, most people believe he’s a first ballot guy too. Still, his handling will be curious. Yes, was a better hitter than Sammy Sosa. But was he so much better that it justifies Thome getting 75% in his first year while Sosa is scraping by in single digits? According to Baseball-Reference.com, Thome and Sosa are each other’s most similar comp in history. This is less a Thome point than a Sosa one, of course. I think they both belong.
  • Omar Vizquel: Every few years a defensive specialist hits the ballot and the writers go crazy. When a defensive specialist who got along really, really well with the press comes along, Katie bar the door. Vizquel is gonna cause a lot of arguments about the measurement and value of defense. He’s also going to cause a lot of people to say things like “you had to watch him play” and “it’s not the Hall of Stats!” He’s going to cause a lot of stathead types to counter with “but Scott Rolen was just as good on defense as Vizquel, but you don’t like him!” It’s gonna get ugly. It’ll be glorious.
  • Johnny Damon and Andruw Jones: Will probably be one-and-done, but way better than you remember. If we wanna talk defense, I’ll offer that I have never seen a better defensive center field in my lifetime than Jones. It’s a shame that his falling off a cliff in his 30s will taint that as his legacy.
  • Chris Carpenter and Livan Hernandez: Hall of pretty darn good pitchers who will be fun to talk about;
  • Hideki Matsui: Also one and done, but everyone loves him so I bet he gets some “good guy” votes;
  • Jamie Moyer: A first-time eligible at age 55. Sandy Koufax had been in the Hall of Fame for 18 years when he was the age Moyer will be when he hits the ballot.
  • Scott Rolen: Way better than people believe now and way better than people said at the time. As suggested above, his defense was nowhere near as raved about during his career as it would be if he played today. If his 72.7 career bWAR was heavier on offense as opposed to distributed 52.1/20.6 on offense and defense, people would’ve probably talked him up more. Career WAR for Jim Thome: 72.9. Career WAR for Derek Jeter: 71.8.
  • Johan Santana: The Hall of What Could’ve Been if Shoulders Weren’t So Dumb.
  • Kerry Wood: The Hall of What Could’ve Been if Elbows Weren’t So Dumb. Still, if Jack Morris can stick on the ballot for 15 years based on one dang game, I don’t see why Wood can’t get some support based on a better one.

There are a couple of other fun “oh my God, how has he been retired that long?” names that will appear on next year’s ballot. Check out the whole list here.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.