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.

Kolten Wong lashes out after losing his starting role with the Cardinals

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Kolten Wong is no longer the only second baseman being considered for a starting role on the Cardinals’ roster, and he’s not happy about it. On Saturday, GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wong could lose playing time to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia in 2017 — in other words, an infielder who brings a little more pop at the plate. Prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Marlins on Sunday, Wong gave his heated response to the media. Via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road. It’s the big leagues. It’s tough, man. For me, the biggest thing is I just need people to have my back. When that comes, it will be good. But, I think right now, it’s just staying with my play, understanding I’m working toward getting myself more consistent, understanding what kind of player I can be. If that’s going to be with another team, so be it.

When pressed, Wong said that he would rather be traded away from St. Louis than step into a limited role with the team. “I don’t want to be here wasting my time,” he told the press. “I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.” The 26-year-old was inked to a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to the 2016 season, complete with a $12.5 million option and $1 million buyout.

Part of Wong’s frustration stems from the Cardinals’ backtracking on their stated commitment to him as their starting second baseman last winter. Mozeliak admitted that while Wong had the defensive tools necessary to hold down the position, he failed to impress at the plate. It’s an argument that Wong hasn’t been able to rebut this spring, going 8-for-44 with two extra bases and 10 strikeouts in camp. He hasn’t looked much better in the regular season, sustaining a career .248/.309/.370 batting line with a .678 OPS and 5.1 fWAR over four years with the organization.

Still, the second baseman feels that he should have been given some heads up that he was playing to keep his starting role this spring, admitting that he entered camp with the mentality of someone who had a guaranteed spot on the Cardinals’ roster and not someone whose job security was dependent on his day-to-day results. “I need the time to consistently figure out how to be me and succeed at this level,” said Wong. “Everybody goes through it. Not everybody is Mike Trout.”

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.