What does the indictment do for Clemens' Hall of Fame case?

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I only pose this question because someone will ask it, and I’ll be damned if I don’t have to have all the answers.  Short version: this shouldn’t matter a lick.

As we recently discussed when A-Rod hit his 600th home run, there are some Hall of Fame voters who will never, ever vote for a PED-associated player no matter what.  For them, Clemens’ name was already mud. They weren’t any more waiting for a court to convict him to make up their minds than they were trying to determine how much of a boost A-Rod got from a couple year’s of PEDs. Brian McNamee could recant tomorrow, and a great number of these voters would still not vote for Clemens based on his infidelities or his association with known PED dealers or what have you. The die has been cast.

Those voters who don’t take such an approach, however, aren’t likely to be deterred by the indictment. They — like Buster Olney — are able to appreciate that (a) lots and lots of players used PEDs in their career; and (b) still only a few, like Clemens, were elite players.  It doesn’t take a super genius to appreciate that Clemens (like Bonds and A-Rod) were a different brand of ballplayer than more borderline players like Rafael Palmiero or even Mark McGwire who, quite possibly, might not have gotten into the Hall of Fame conversation without PEDs.

My guess is that even some of the more open minded voters will change their tune if Clemens is ultimately convicted of perjury. Not because of the PEDs, but because of their belief that that the character considerations that are supposed to enter into Hall of Fame voting preclude convicted criminals (even if there are several convicted criminals in the Hall of Fame). I don’t think there are enough of these doubters to ultimately keep Clemens out, however.

My guess: while Clemens won’t be a first-ballot unanimous Hall of Famer like he should be based on his baseball accomplishments, he will eventually make the Hall of Fame.  As he should.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.