My view: no matter what happens with the perjury trial — and the jury is still deliberating, by the way — Barry Bonds should still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sure, we can disagree about Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero’s worthiness or unworthiness, but Bonds is so far over the line that no one who even pretends to understand how physics and chemistry work can say that he’s some sort of bogus steroid creation. To quote Bill James’ comment about Rickey Henderson: if you cut him in half, you’d have two Hall of Famers. In Bonds case way may even be able to go thirds.
But there’s the morals clause, of course. I hate the morals clause and don’t believe that it was actually designed to exclude immoral actors from the Hall — rather, it was inserted to give a boost to good guys who may have fallen just short on the merits — but it’s there. And it will be the basis for the Hall of Fame electorate to exclude Bonds, much to their own embarrassment once these hysterical days have passed and some perspective on the matter is gained.
One guy who has thought a great deal about steroids in baseball and other sports is Steve Kettmann. The former A’s beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle was the ghost writer for Jose Canseco’s “Juiced” and was sounding the steroids alarm a couple of years before anyone was. Over at the Huffington Post today, he makes a prediction about Bonds and the Hall of Fame that sounds about right:
There will always be cheating in the game, as there always has been, and there will always be fall guys for that cheating, who are punished when rich men behind the scenes dance away from blame. Bonds used steroids, but he’s really on trial for being stupid — and he may be found guilty of a charge or two. I still say that when the wash comes out, when we look back on all this years later, it will all look much different than it does now — and that one way or another, maybe after he’s dead and gone, or at least enfeebled and incapable of taking any pleasure in the news, Barry Bonds will be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
How much nicer if we could just cut out the silly interim period, cast out the morality of it all and do right by history?
Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.
Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.
Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.
About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.
As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.
The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.
On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.
The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.
If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.