I like Johnny Damon as a player. He’s had a nice career. He’s the archetypal Hall of Very Good guy. The HoVG’s Mt. Rushmore* could easily have him, Mark Grace, Jack Morris and, I dunno, Vada Pinson on it. But a Hall of Famer? Eh:
It stinks that [3,000 hits] might be my only chance [at the Hall of Fame], because I’m climbing the runs list, too. I think all of those years I did it quietly without really thinking about my numbers. Is it realistic? Yes. Is it the most important thing to me? No. The numbers would be great to attain, but I really don’t know how many more years I’ll play. If this is a rough year for me, I’m going home. If not, I’ll keep getting after it.”
… So which hat? “I think it goes by the longest tenure, so it would be Kansas City,” he said. “Wade Boggs messed that up for everybody.”
Well, he’s right about Boggs messing up the Hall-of-Famers-choose-their-own-hat thing with that side deal he allegedly made with the Devil Rays. But really, with Damon I think the conversation is academic.
But if he gets to pick which hat he can wear on the plaque he’s not getting, so can I. When I’m inducted, I want to wear my tan corduroy Kangol bucket hat. It may not be baseball-related, but it has accompanied me and kept my bald head sunburn-free since I picked it up on an epic road trip I took eight years ago. I’d die without that hat. Has to be on my plaque.
*This could be the subject of its own post, but for the time being, I don’t think that guys who have very, very close but ultimate just lacking Hall of Fame arguments (e.g. Fred McGriff) should be on the HoVG’s Mt. Rushmore. They’re true tweeners who don’t necessarily represent what the HoVg is all about. My HoVG Mt. Rushmore should have people that had excellent careers but who lack a truly serious argument for Cooperstown. And no, just because a lot of misguided people think that Morris has one doesn’t change the appropriateness of his inclusion. This is my friggin’ Mt. Rushmore, OK?
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.