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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.