We’ve seen a lot of tortured arguments in favor of Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case. I’d recap some of the best ones, but really, you had to be there.
Anyway, today comes what I think is the definitive case against Jack Morris. It’s by Dan Szymborski over at ESPN (sorry; Insider only). It’s not hysterical. It’s not polemical. It’s not disrespectful of Morris’ considerable accomplishments, nor does it approach the matter from the standpoint of “you gotta be an IDIOT to vote for Morris.” It merely takes the arguments most have used in favor of Jack Morris and points out the problems with them. And there are a lot of them.
Morris didn’t prevent the opposition from scoring runs at anything much greater than an average clip. He didn’t “pitch to the score” (or, if he tried to, he was not particularly successful at it). Apart from one game in the 1991 World Series, he was nothing special as a playoff pitcher. Despite his “best starter of the 80s” reputation, he was rarely thought of as special by Cy Young voters, who gave him the same number of Cy Young votes over his career as Mike Hampton and Dontrelle Willis.
None of which is to say that you can’t still vote for Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame if you’re so inclined. You can. You just need to find a reason that has not been discredited, as Szymborski discredits these arguments here. And which you apply to other starting pitchers who you consider on your ballot.
Phillies outfielder Tyler Goeddel was included in Wednesday’s starting lineup against the Nationals. It’s notable because it’s only his eighth start in August. The Phillies selected Goeddel from the Rays in the Rule 5 draft during the winter, which means the club has had to keep him on its 25-man roster all season. If the club didn’t, it would have had to offer Goddel back to the Rays.
Goeddel is by no means a top prospect, but the Phillies deemed him worthy enough of taking a year-long 25-man roster spot, which are quite valuable. And the rebuilding Phillies aren’t exactly fighting for a playoff spot, so why not play him?
As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, manager Pete Mackanin asked, “What’s the point?” in regards to starting Goeddel. Mackanin said, “I’ve seen enough of Goeddel to know. We’ve kept him this long and we’re going to keep him and we’ll see where we go next year with him. I don’t see a need to play him, especially after he hasn’t played so much.”
That seems like circular logic. You don’t see a need to play him because he hasn’t played much. Well, maybe if you played him more often, you’d see a reason?
In fairness, Goeddel hasn’t exactly torn the cover off the ball, putting up a .191/.250/.296 triple-slash line in 217 plate appearances. But the Phillies have chosen to play utilityman Cody Asche and journeyman Jimmy Paredes (“an extra player,” according to Mackanin), who both don’t figure to be in the Phillies’ future plans. Goeddel is only 23 years old. In May, when he was starting regularly, he posted a .794 OPS.
This isn’t a roster blunder on the Ruben Amaro, Jr. scale, but it’s a very odd way to handle a Rule-5 player for a rebuilding team.
Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller returned to the majors on Wednesday after a stint of about a month and a half in the minor leagues. The right-hander had compiled an ugly 2-9 record and a 7.14 ERA over 14 big league starts along with a finger injury and the minor league demotion.
On Wednesday afternoon against the Giants at AT&T Park, Miller still got the loss, but he gave up only two runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts in three innings. It’s the fifth time in 15 starts he gave up two or fewer runs. Opposing starter Matt Moore, who nearly authored a no-hitter his last time out, was just a little bit better, limiting the D-Backs’ offense to a lone run in 5 1/3 innings. The Giants ultimately won 4-2.
You may recall Miller was part of the trade that forced the Diamondbacks to send Ender Inciarte, Aaron Blair, and 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson to the Braves. It’s a trade that chief baseball officer Tony La Russa defended as recently as last week.