Edgardo Alfonzo - 1999 Topps

It’s a crime that Edgardo Alfonzo isn’t on the Hall of Fame ballot

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I know I’m just about the only one who gets upset about these things. And, yeah, there probably are better uses of my time. But how could anyone look at these two infielders and decide that the second is the one worthy of a spot on the Hall of Fame ballot?

Player A: .284/.357/.425, 146 HR, 744 RBI, 53 SB in 5,385 AB
Player B: .273/.317/.356, 36 HR, 368 RBI, 363 SB in 4,963 AB

Player A is Edgardo Alfonzo, who turned in a four-year run as one of the NL’s top players in the late-90s.

Player B is Tony Womack, who had one legitimately good season in a career spent mostly dragging his teams down.

Now, Alfonzo is obviously no Hall of Famer. However, through age 28, it looked like he had a chance. He hit .292/.367/.445 with 120 homers and 538 RBI in his first eight seasons with the Mets, good for a 113 OPS+. Ryne Sandberg hit .284/.339/.430 with 109 homers and 473 RBI through age 28, giving him a 108 OPS+.

Unfortunately, Alfonzo had very little to contribute after that. Upon arriving in San Francisco at age 29, he was an average regular for two seasons. He then turned in an awful year at age 31 and was done at 32, though he did try comebacks afterwards.

But Alfonzo deserves his spot on the Hall of Fame ballot. He was a regular for just as long as Womack was and obviously a much better player. The difference between Alfonzo’s career OPS and Womack’s is the same as the difference between Willie McCovey’s (or Adrian Gonzalez’s) and Alfonzo’s. Alfonzo is also obviously more worthy than other newcomers Eric Young, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin and Jeromy Burnitz. Someone really blew it by not getting him his place.

Report: Arquimedes Caminero likely to sign with Yomiuri Giants

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 21: Arquimedes Caminero #48 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Brewers won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.

The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.

Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.