cooperstown

Is the Hall of Fame a victim of silly idealism?

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post was asked about the Hall of Fame cases for baseball’s black sheep in a Q&A today: Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez.  His answer says an awful lot about why the Hall of Fame discussion has gotten so rancorous and complicated in recent years:

I haven’t voted for the Hall in about 10 years. A wise Post decision not to allow us to do it. I’d never vote for Bonds, Clemens, McGwire or now Manny.

But I think it’s obvious that the baseball Hall of Fame will never be what it once was — a kind of perfect otherworldy place that you visited with no complex feelings, just childlike pleasure. That’s gone. I thanks the players union for that, with Selig and the owners a fairly close second.

A “perfect otherworldy place that you visited with no complex feelings, just childlike pleasure?”  Really? When?

While not a voter himself, my guess is that Boswell is not alone in holding the Hall of Fame and, by extension, candidates who become eligible for induction, to so impossibly high a standard. It’s exactly that impossibly high standard that has caused Hall of Fame voters to tie themselves into knots in recent years.

How about this: the Hall of Fame is an outstanding museum that has a room in which guys who excelled at the game get honored. I won’t say that it’s nothing more than that — there is some emotional/historical weight to it beyond any other part of the museum — but it’s not something upon which your youthful idealism should be pegged.

In no event, however, is it fair to the candidates, nor does it reflect particularly well on the voters, for the voters to lay their childhood baggage on the institution.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.