Gone and mostly forgotten: Beck, McLemore passed over on HOF ballot

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rod beck.jpgOK, so I’m probably pretty unique in this regard, but one of my favorite things to do upon the annual release of the Hall of Fame ballot is to check who didn’t make the cut. Fortunately, this has become a lot easier with Baseball-Reference’s final year pages
New qualifiers for this year’s ballot last played in 2004. Chosen for inclusion were Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. So let’s see who was passed over from the 2004 list:
Rod Beck: Easily the biggest surprise, given his 286 career saves and sudden passing at age 38 in 2007. Beck was a three-time All-Star and he ranks 24th on the all-time saves list. Mike Jackson clearly had the better career of the two out of the pen, but given the notoriety each enjoyed during his career, it’s pretty stunning that Jackson, who never made an All-Star team, was chosen over him.
Mark McLemore: Played 19 seasons, which matches Galarraga, Larkin and McGriff for the most in the class. McLemore spent much of his mid-20s in the minors, but he was pretty much a regular from 1993-2001 and he certainly could have continued his career as a role player beyond 2004 had he wanted to. Hit .259/.349/.341 with 272 career steals.
Dave Burba: Burba finished 115-87, compared to 114-96 for Reynolds. His candidacy also should have gotten a huge boost by his 3-0 record and 2.14 ERA in 21 postseason innings.
John Vander Wal: Sadly, Vander Wal was 33 before anyone figured out he might be worth trying as a regular. One of the game’s best pinch-hitters during the first half of his career, he got 300 at-bats in his career just three times, yet he posted OPSs of 972, 806 and 818 in those seasons, which came at ages 34, 35 and 37. He finished up at .261/.351/.441 in 2,751 at-bats.
Brent Mayne: While he was a reliable part-time catcher for 15 years, Mayne will always be best remembered for getting a victory in an extra-inning game against the Braves in 2000. He worked a scoreless 12th for the Rockies, and he became the first position player to pick up a win in 32 years when Colorado scored in the bottom of the frame.
Mike Fetters: Entertaining and usually effective, Fetters and his intimidating stare lasted 16 years and combined on a 3.86 ERA and 100 saves in 620 appearances.
Todd Van Poppel: One of the most hyped prospects of all-time, Van Poppel did manage to get 11 seasons in despite being known as a bust throughout his career. He had a couple of nice years out of the pen with the Cubs in 2000 and ’01, but he finished up 40-52 with a 5.58 ERA.
Notables not qualifying for the ballot because they didn’t play 10 seasons include Rey Ordonez, Darren Dreifort, Billy Koch and Doug Glanville.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.