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.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.