Alomar, Larkin highlight new Hall of Fame ballot

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alomar larkin.jpgRoberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff highlight the list of 15 newcomers on the Hall of Fame ballot released on Friday.
Also on the ballot for the first, and likely last, time are Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile.
Only the first four newcomers figure to receive the five percent of the vote needed to stay on the ballot for 2011. Perhaps one member of the group will even make it in, though it seems unlikely. Alomar and Larkin are definitely well above the Hall of Fame standards for middle infielders, but both have enough holes in their candidacy that it seems likely they’ll have to wait for enshrinement.
That definitely bodes well for holdover candidates Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven. With 75 percent needed for enshrinement, Dawson was named on 67 percent of the ballots last year and Blyleven on 62.7 percent.
The other returnees, with their 2009 share of the vote, are: Lee Smith (44.5), Jack Morris (44), Tim Raines (22.6), Mark McGwire (21.9), Alan Trammell (17.4), Dave Parker (15.0), Don Mattingly (11.9), Dale Murphy (11.5) and Harold Baines (5.9).
We’ll have more on all of the new candidates over the next month. The results from the current ballot will be announced Jan. 6.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.