Greg Maddux

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


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.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.