I know you all are tied of Jack Morris stuff. The arguments and all of that. But I implore you — strongly — to make room in your day for this Baseball Prospectus post from John Bernhardt. It’s long — like, really long — but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for two reasons.
First, as a piece of analysis it’s definitive. John looks fairly at both the traditionalist arguments for Morris and the sabermetric arguments against him. Rather than join the argument in the middle as so many of us do now because of their familiarity and in the interests of time, John takes it all as a whole as though approaching it for the first time. This makes it the perfect piece to send to your friends who haven’t thought as much about it all as you have.
The second, and I would argue, more important reason: it’s just a beautiful piece of prose. While John’s leanings regarding the merits of Morris are clear, he does not throw numbers at you all willy-nilly as has become the style in some sabermetric-leaning circles. He tells a story. An entertaining one and a convincing one. And it’s good reading even if you don’t much like the substance. Indeed, there is a long portion of it analyzing Lonnie Smith’s base running blunder in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series that I greatly enjoyed even though it broke down one of the most excruciating plays in my baseball-watching life in excruciating detail. Good writing can make you endure almost anything, and John’s writing is that good.
Eventually, John winds up here:
Whatever the reason, Morris is now a test case to see if a candidate with a strong enough narrative, no matter how groundless, imaginary, or overblown it might be, can make the Hall simply because his supporters repeated it so often and so loudly that one morning the world woke up and found it was true.
I can’t dispute any of that. And even those who may want to dispute it will be better for having read John’s piece before doing so.
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.