Johnny Damon was on MLB Network yesterday and was asked about the Hall of Fame. It’s kind of a lose-lose topic for a guy like Damon who, if he ducks or deflects questions about it, he’s not being particularly nice to his host, but if he answers it, he gets people saying stuff like “what, you think you’re going into the Hall of Fame, you delusional so-and-so?”
But answer the questions he did, particularly one about which cap he’d wear if he was, indeed, elected one day (transcript of his answer via Royals Review):
Well, it’s a tough decision… four years in Boston… four years in New York… five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were. So if they’d have me…
Damon’s case for the Hall of Fame on the merits is interesting enough. I don’t think he’s worthy and if he were to retire today I don’t think he makes it. But if he gets to 3,000 hits, it will be time for a very interesting discussion. Let’s save that discussion for another time.
Merits aside, the cap topic is pretty darn interesting too. He was probably — purely on the numbers — a better player in Kansas City than anywhere else, but that’s not what the Hall of Fame looks at. If it was, then Reggie Jackson would be wearing an Athletics’ cap. It’s more about history and public fascination and all of that, and I bet that if you put 100 casual fans in a room, a tremendously large number of them wouldn’t be able to identify the team on which Damon broke into the bigs.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.