ugueth urbina

Remembering those left off the ballot

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Craig did his thing, running down the first-timers included on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. But how about those players left off. That’s always the first thing I look at when the ballot comes out. So let’s take a trip down memory lane with those not worthy of being included with possible immortals like Lenny Harris and Kirk Rueter.

Wilson Alvarez (14 years) – The first pitcher to take the mound for the expansion Devil Rays in 1998. Health problems prevented Alvarez from ever truly living up to expectations, but he ended his career with a 102-92 record and a 3.96 ERA. His ERA+ is 112, compared to 98 for Rueter. Rueter, on the other hand, won 28 more games while pitching nearly 150 additional innings.

Cal Eldred (14 years) – A big-time prospect with the Brewers in the early 1990s, Eldred broke down not long after throwing a league-high 258 innings as a 25-year-old in 1993. Overcoming several surgeries and pitching with a screw in his elbow, he eventually resurfaced with the Cardinals and posted a 3.41 ERA in 171 1/3 innings out of the pen between 2003-2005.

Jeffrey Hammonds (13 years) – The fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft, Hammonds was a big-time underachiever until hitting .335/.395/.529 with 20 homers and 106 RBI for the Rockies in 2000. His lone years in Coors Field earned him a three-year, $21 million contract from the Brewers, and he promptly fell flat on his face. He his just 22 homers in five years after his career season.

Greg Myers (18 years) – The long-time backup catcher pulled off one of the surprises of the decade when ht hit .307/.374/.502 with 15 homers in 329 at-bats with the Blue Jays as a 37-year-old in 2003. Sadly, he hurt his ankle in April 2004 and missed the rest of the season. He had just 18 at-bats that year and 12 in 2005 before calling it a career. For what it’s worth, he had 27 more RBI than Harris in almost 900 fewer career at-bats.

Jose Offerman (15 years) – Briefly one of the game’s highest-paid players, Offerman was actually very good in the first year of the big four-year, $26 million contract he signed with the Red Sox, making his second All-Star team in 1999. However, things went south quickly from there. Never a very good middle infielder, he lost all of his value once his legs started to go. He was still playing in the Atlantic League as late as 2007, but his role in a bench-clearing brawl in which he charged the pitcher with his bat after being hit by a pitch effectively ended his career.

Paul Quantrill (14 years) – Quantrill led or tied for his league lead in appearances each season from 2001-04, and he was among his league’s most valuable relievers in the first three of them. The fourth didn’t go so well, as he racked up a 4.72 ERA in 95 1/3 innings for Joe Torre’s Yankees. When he was at his best, Quantrill got grounder after grounder and never walked anyone. In his All-Star campaign in 2001, he issued just five unintentional walks in 83 innings.

Rey Sanchez (15 years) – Long one of the game’s best defensive shortstop and weakest hitters, Sanchez played for nine teams in 15 seasons and batted .272/.308/.334. He’s one of eight players in the expansion era to come in with at least 5,000 plate appearances and an OPS+ under 70, joining Neifi Perez, Tim Foli, Ed Brinkman, Alfredo Griffin, Sandy Alomar, Mark Belanger and Ozzie Guillen.

Ugueth Urbina (11 years) – Having fanned 97 batters in 79 2/3 innings in 2005, Urbina had plenty left in his arm before his attempted murder conviction in Venezuela ended his career. He saved 237 games and went to two All-Star games in 11 seasons.

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.