Bert Blyleven: let the PED users in the Hall of Fame

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I wrote yesterday about how I reconcile PED use and the Hall of Fame.  I’ve written a lot about Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame. Say, how can those things go together?

Via the Jonah Keri Podcast, of course.  Jonah has been talking to some serious heavyweights this week, and the other day Blyleven gave Jonah a half hour of his time.  It’s all worth listening to, but I think the most interesting part is when they talk about steroid users and the Hall. Blyleven’s take? Let McGwire, Bonds and Clemens in. His rationale (more or less) is that a lot of guys were taking and they all didn’t become Hall of Famers, so why degrade the accomplishments of the ones who did? This is a rough approximation of my own stance: sure, guys used PEDs, but it’s not like that prevents us from distinguishing them from other players and recognizing their greatness. At least if we don’t take a blanket “no PED users in the Hall” approach.  Which I think is extremely problematic.

Not that Blyleven and I agree on everything.  He would change his mind on Bonds or Clemens if they were to be convicted in their respective criminal prosecutions. Hard to say if he thinks that’s because that would officially make them criminals and thus disqualify them on moral grounds or, alternatively, if it would merely remove some extant doubt from his mind about what they did while they played.  Bert is also part of the “release all the names” club which, as I have argued is simply wrong.

But however he comes down, it’s a good interview and a good window on how hard it is to figure out what to do with the Hall of Fame in the wake of the steroid era.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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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.