UPDATE: Alomar to wear a Jays cap, Blyleven a Twins cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

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UPDATE: Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson confirms that Blyleven’s plaque will have a Twins hat and Alomar’s will have a Blue Jays cap.  In keeping with his statements from last night, Idelson also adds that all players’ caps — not just Angels inductees — will henceforth have halos engraved on them as well.

Wednesday, 4:28 PM: This is always a fun discussion: which caps do the new Hall of Fame inductees wear on their plaques?

Remember: while the Hall used to let them choose, the choice is no longer up to the player.  The Hall didn’t like guys making business arrangements over it and they wanted the plaques to adequately reflect history. Thus, no Wade Boggs in a Rays cap, no Andre Dawson in a Red Sox cap.  The player gets to voice their opinion, but it’s not dispositive.

Neither, however, is a player’s career stats. Remember: Reggie Jackson was a better player for a greater number of years with the Athletics than the Yankees, yet he wears a Yankees cap on his plaque. Nolan Ryan had his best years as an Angel and more years as an Astro, but he has a Rangers cap on. I have no problem with this because, really, when the tales of these players are told, their exploits with the Yankees and Rangers, respectively, are usually the center of the story.  There’s some subjectivity to it.

So, Alomar: it seems obvious to me that he should be a Blue Jay. More years there than anywhere else. Two World Series rings. Slightly less production on a rate-basis there than Baltimore or Cleveland, but only slightly, and he was a way better defender in his younger days in Toronto than he was later (even though he was great later too).  If it’s not the Jays, it would seem rather scandalous to me.

Blyleven seems pretty easy too: 11 years with the Twins, and way way way more innings there than anyplace else he plied his trade. And in some ways it was those last four years there in his second stint that sealed his Hall of Fame case for him. Remember: he was a compiler after all! It would be different if he had some signature moment while he played for the Pirates or Indians or something, but it’s gotta be Minnesota.

Darn. I was hoping when I started this post that it would be closer.  Oh well, at least it’s better than next year when we’ll have to debate whether Barry Larkin wears a Reds cap or a … Reds cap.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.