No one asked and fewer care, but since I will probably continue to critique, praise and analyze Hall of Fame ballots of others, I may as well make it clear who I would support if I had the franchise. Here would be my guys this year:
Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Alan Trammell and Jeff Bagwell.
The closest calls in terms of guys I excluded: Larry Walker, because I’m still not sure how to weigh his Coors Field days, though I may be convinced to (hypothetically) check yes in the future. Same with Fred McGriff, on whom I have wavered over the years. Indeed, I think I have written posts both for and against his candidacy in the past. Which is something I’m totally proud of.
Ultimately, I don’t believe in the concept of making guys wait because there are others “in front of them” — if they’re worthy, they’re worthy — but at the same time, I have a hard time putting ten guys on the ballot.
Put differently, Hall voting isn’t as easy as it seems.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.