Norma Desmond

“Most writers have a little bit of drama queen inside of them”

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David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News pens a nice column about the silliness and self-importance of Hall of Fame voters who seek to use their vote as though it were being cast in some referendum about the Steroid Era. His key point:

The reality of the situation is that baseball has already decided what voters should do, and any writer who attempts to argue otherwise is simply attempting to add a level of power to his vote that does not exist (and, frankly, that should not exist for anybody who considers themselves a journalist). The fact that baseball has deemed players like Bonds, Palmeiro, Sosa and Mark McGwire eligible of being on the Hall of Fame ballot means that they have deemed said players eligible for the Hall of Fame. It’s that simple.

And Murphy hits the nail on the head when it comes to the hand-wringers, who he says “have a little bit of drama queen inside of them”:

Writers who view this election as some sort of existential dilemma, many of whom I respect greatly, do so only because they want to experience such a dilemma.

I roll my eyes every time I see a Hall of Fame column in which the author talks about how difficult it is to vote.  About how dreadful the task has become. How he or she has had to wrestle with their conscience and how they feel the weight of blahdiblahdiblah, barf, barf, barf. In light of Murphy’s comments about writers-as-drama-queens, I’m less inclined to see these as legitimate complaints than I am to see them as baseball writers’ version of a humblebrag. “Hey, everyone, I have a Hall of Fame ballot. Now watch me grapple with the history I necessarily make!”

Pick the players you think should be in. Do what you want, but note that baseball thinks these folks are just fine, eligibility-wise. If that’s not enough for you and you think the character clause merits their exclusion, fine, exclude them. But don’t pretend that’s too hard for you. If you’re inclined to vote with your morals on this matter, do so with the conviction you would have about any moral stand and stop pretending it’s so damn agonizing.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.