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.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.