George Steinbrenner thumbs up

George Steinbrenner, Marvin Miller, nine others on Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame ballot

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The Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee used to consider managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players every couple of years in one big lump.  Last summer they decided to break it up by era, with “Pre-Integration Era” candidates (1871-1946), “Golden Era” candidates (1947-1972) and “Expansion Era” candidates (starting in 1973) getting alternating consideration. They also decided that Expansion Era candidates go first, so they’re up this year, and today they announced the nominees:

Vida Blue
Dave Concepcion
Steve Garvey
Ron Guidry
Tommy John
Al Oliver
Ted Simmons
Rusty Staub
Billy Martin
Pat Gillick
Marvin Miller
George Steinbrenner

The name that will get all the press is Big Stein, and indeed, I think they started out with the Expansion Era specifically so they could vote him in in the year of his death.  As I’ve said before, I think Steinbrenner is a Hall of Famer. Yes, even though he was a sonofabitch. His impact on the game was tremendous, and his success as an owner — both on the baseball and business side of things — was pretty remarkable.  They don’t print money and make championship trophies for you just because you’re based in New York. Ask the Knicks. Ask the Mets.  Steinbrenner may have had some advantages at his disposal, but he exploited them, and it wasn’t easy work.

As for the others, I’m long on record as thinking Marvin Miller should be in the Hall. His impact was greater than Steinbrenner’s. Greater than almost every non-player already inducted. It’s a shame he wasn’t inducted years ago, though I don’t think it will matter. He likely gets snubbed again.

Billy Martin is a close call for me. Hell of a manager, but I can’t escape the notion that — from a purely baseball perspective — he did just as much harm as he did good.  Add in his personal baggage and he’s a tough sell.  I lean yes on some days and no on others.

I’d probably say no on all the players.  Tough call on a couple, but at the end of the day I don’t think Tommy John should get extra credit for having a surgery named after him, nor do I think most of the guys on that last were quite good enough.  Ted Simmons maybe. Crazy underrated. Whether he’s so underrated that we’re all missing a Hall of Famer I’m not sure.  I reserve the right to change my mind on this between now and the voting in December. I’m just riffing here.

About that voting: it will take place at the Winter Meetings next month, with the results announced on December 6th.  I’ll be there, my friends, and if the voting is too off base, rest assured, I’ll give some indignant looks to whatever Veteran’s Committee voters I see.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.