The Hall of Fame ballot is announced, Bernie Williams, other luminaries now eligible

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The Baseball Writers Association of America just released the Hall of Fame ballots for the 2012 inductions.  There are 13 new candidates on it.  Included are Bernie Williams and a cast of … guys not as good as Bernie Williams. To wit:

Jeromy Burnitz
Vinny Castilla
Brian Jordan
Javy Lopez
Bill Mueller
Terry Mulholland
Phil Nevin
Brad Radke
Tim Salmon
Ruben Sierra
Tony Womack
Eric Young

Yeah, not exactly a killer lineup of newbies. Williams will get some consideration from many — and will probably take up more ink than his candidacy really warrants — but it’s not a hard ballot as far as the newcomers go.

As for the holdovers, Barry Larkin, who got 62.1% of the vote last year is back. He definitely deserves induction in my view.  Jack Morris follows (53.5%). Jeff Bagwell (41.7%) and Tim Raines (37.5%) got way fewer votes than they deserved last year. They won’t get in because the Hall of Fame electorate is apparently addle minded when it comes to those two, but there you have it.  Edgar Martinez got 32.9% last year. I’d vote for him but I get that many won’t vote for a DH unless he’s transcendent and that their definition of transcendent is different than mind. Alan Trammell is still hovering at 24% support, which is a friggin’ crime.

This looks to be the last year or relative calm before all hell breaks loose and the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens of the world create ballot chaos. Not to mention a slew of non-controversial but sure-Hall of Famers like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson in the next few years.  Hopefully some order can be restored and some justice provided to guys like Larkin, Trammell, Raines and Bagwell before that all happens, but I’m really only hopeful about Larkin’s chances.

Writers have until December 31 to turn in their ballots. Inductees will be announced on January 9.  Gentlemen: start your outrage.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”