The BBWAA honors Bill Conlin; shoots down cool idea for a reliever award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America had their big annual meeting this morning.  Two things of note happened:

  • The writers honored Philly writer Bill Conlin with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.  This is what people refer to when they say that someone has been elected to the “writer’s wing of the Hall of Fame.”  There is no wing. There’s a plaque. Good for Conlin, but I’d be lying if I said that his baseball writing over the past couple of decades was Hall of Fame worthy. Oh well, not my club.
  • A proposal by Jayson Stark to make an end-of-year award for relief pitchers was rejected.

I hadn’t thought about a reliever award much until I just heard Stark talking about it to someone, but I think it’s a great idea.  The one objection people have offered to it is that it would turn into an award to the saves leader or something, further glorifying an all-too-glorified statistic, but I disagree. Look what the end-of-year award debates have done for pitchers wins.  When there are stakes to it, thinking gets focused and progress is made. At least recently. Just ask Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum.

Oh well. Neat idea, Mr. Stark. I bet it happens eventually. I bet they name it the Mariano Rivera Award.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.