It’s not Jack Morris hunting season, but the meat is still tasty

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Denigrating Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case is a winter tradition unmatched by anything this side of Christmas. Oh, the warmth I have been provided by hours of “pitching to the score” arguments in those dark late December and early January days!

But, surprisingly, it’s just as nice in May too.  Because I got a nice little feeling of happiness reading Rany Jazayerli’s latest column over at Grantland — about the current Detroit Tigers — which found the time to drop the following aside about the 1984 Detroit Tigers:

That team wasn’t built around superstars, though — 28 years later, not one member of the 1984 Tigers is in the Hall of Fame.

Then the footnote:

The good news is that one of the 1984 Tigers may be inducted in the next year or two. The bad news is that it will be Jack Morris, who was maybe the fifth-best player on the team.

For what it’s worth, three of those better players are clearly Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Darrell Evans, all of whom should be in the Hall of Fame before Jack Morris.  The fourth may be open for debate. Chet Lemon was pretty great even though no one remembers him now. Kirk Gibson was on that team and had a great year. I’m not exactly sure who Rany is referencing as the fourth, but there are multiple candidates.

Anyway, I know it’s not Hall of Fame season, but it’s always worth reminding ourselves of Jack Morris’ place in the universe.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.