Greg Maddux

How about this: no one from the past 25 years makes the Hall of Fame

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I don’t advocate that — I think I can tell the difference between elite players of that period and non-elite players — but some are advocating it.  Maybe not in so many words, but by the criteria they’re currently employing, it’s a necessary conclusion.

Example: Jeff Pearlman, who today sides with those who would bar Jeff Bagwell from Cooperstown despite there being no evidence that he used PEDs.  After taking issue with Joe Posnanski’s column from this morning Jeff writes:

But, alas, Joe’s still right—perhaps Jeff Bagwell never used. Perhaps, as dozens upon dozens of his teammates turned to steroids and HGH throughout the 1990s and early 2000s …  Bagwell looked the other way and continued to pop his GNC-supplied Vitamin C tablets. Maybe, just maybe, that happened. But, as the game was being ruined in his very clubhouse, where was Bagwell’s voice of protest? Where was Jeff Bagwell, one of the best players in baseball, when someone inside the game needed to speak out and demand accountability? Answer: Like nearly all of his peers, he was nowhere. He never uttered a word, never lifted a finger (Now, once he retired, he was more than willing to defend himself and speak up for the sport. Once he was retired).

This, to me, is why we are allowed to suspect Jeff Bagwell and, if we so choose, not vote for him.

Good point! But let me ask: where was Derek Jeter? Greg Maddux? Randy Johnson? Cal Ripken? Tony Gwynn? Ichiro? Trevor Hoffman? Mariano Rivera? Albert Pujols? There is just as much evidence against those guys as there is against Bagwell.  None of them spoke up and demanded accountability. Are we allowed to suspect them too and, if we so choose, not vote for them?

I anticipate Pearlman’s response would be that, unlike Bagwell, those guys weren’t big power hitters who became musclebound.  But then again, neither were guys like Randy Velarde, Andy Pettitte, Hal Morris, Tim Laker, Denny Neagle, Ron Villone, Kent Mercker, Mike Stanton, Fernando Vina, Wally Joyner, Paul Byrd and Gary Matthews, Jr. and many others who were named in the Mitchell Report and allied investigations.  They all used, as did scores of others who don’t fit the Bagwell profile. If they did, how do we know that Maddux and Ichiro didn’t?

We don’t. Anyone of that era could have been using. Actually, anyone over the last 50 years could have been using given that Stanozolol was developed in 1962 and was being used in athletics soon thereafter. Physique has very little to do with it. Which makes everyone a suspect. At least, that is, if you suspect people without having any evidence for the charge.  And if you keep everyone who is a suspect under that rationale out of the Hall, the entire era should be kept out of the Hall.

I’m not prepared to do that.  I require a bit of evidence before I accuse someone of wrongdoing and refuse to honor their career in a way it should be honored. Pearlman doesn’t.  A lot of other people seem to agree with him.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.