Scherzer, Kershaw go from Cy Young to contract negotiations

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It’s been just a little more than 12 hours since Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw were named Cy Young Award winners. But we’re already turning to the next chapter in their stories: where they’ll be long term.

Following some speculation that the Tigers could seek to trade Scherzer, who has a year left on his current deal, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that Scherzer is open to a contract extension with the Tigers.

“I am open (to a new deal),” Scherzer said. “I realize I’ve got a good situation here in Detroit. But it also takes two to dance … I don’t have any [anxiety] to get anything done, but if something does get done, I’d be happy to do it.”

It’s not entirely clear what kind of deal Scherzer could command. Given his steady improvement over the past two and a half seasons you can’t call his 2013 a fluke, but I don’t feel like there’s a consensus as to whether he is coming off a decided peak career year and will return to being merely good or if he’s now on a nice plateau where he can be expected to be an elite starter for 3-4 more seasons. Dave Dombrowski has to figure that out and the process of figuring that out is what will determine whether Scherzer is dangled or locked up.

Clayton Kershaw is less of an uncertainty. He’s now got two Cy Young Awards and a second placy Cy Young finish in the past three seasons, is three years younger than Scherzer and, barring injury, is clearly a guy who is beginning to put together the peak seasons of a Hall of Famer. As a result of that, he seems far more philosophical about inking a long term deal now:

 

It was reported in October that the Dodgers had offered Kershaw a $300 million extension during the season or, at the very least, had begun discussions in that direction. That he can look at that and still talk about just having one year ahead of him is pretty close to the dictionary definition of the word “cool.” Whatever the case, though, whether it’s the Dodgers or someone else, Kershaw is going to get a record deal for a pitcher when it’s all said and done.

Two Cy Young award winners who, in the next year or so, could have different addresses. Gentlemen: open your wallets.

Joe Morgan is asking Hall of Fame voters to keep PED users out

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Hall of Famer Joe Morgan has never equivocated on his belief that users of performance enhancing drugs should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Whenever he has been interviewed on the subject he has been steadfast in his stance that PED users are not worthy of induction.

This week he has taken a further step: he has sent a letter to all of the Hall of Fame voters, asking them to keep PED users out.

In his letter — the entirety of which you can read over at Joe Posnanski’s blog — Morgan says “if steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.” By “we,” he’s clearly referring to Hall of Fame members. While he does not name any player he would like to see voters keep out, he spends a lot of time talking about how PEDs are bad for baseball, PED users cheated the game and how he and many other Hall of Famers do not want to see them elected. He invokes “youngsters” and refers to the Hall of Fame as “special” and speaks to the “sanctity” of election. It’s the moral argument against PED use we’ve been hearing for a good 15 years or so.

It’s also hopelessly naive and comes far too late in the game to be a useful plea.

As we’ve noted many, many times, there are already PED users in the Hall of Fame. Amphetamine users to be sure, but even if you want to give them a pass, there are steroid and/or HGH users too. In case you forgot about that, allow me to remind you about the time Hall of Fame voter Thomas Boswell appeared in Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary update “The Tenth Inning” and explicitly said that he personally witnessed a current Hall of Famer drink a PED-laden shake:

“There was another player now in the Hall of Fame who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said “What’s that?” and he said “it’s a Jose Canseco milkshake”. And that year that Hall of Famer hit more home runs than ever hit any other year. So it wasn’t just Canseco, and so one of the reasons that I thought that it was an important subject was that it was spreading. It was already spreading by 1988.”

Boswell tends to keep pretty silent about that come Hall of Fame voting time in December, but he has never backed off the claim either.

Less reliable, but still never refuted, were the stories of Patty Blyleven, former wife of Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, who said that she knows of a Hall of Famer who took PEDs as well, and who continues to nonetheless publicly rail against PED use. There are likewise other Hall of Famers of whom baseball writers are strongly convinced — or know for a fact — took PEDs but about whom they’ve never reported because no one would go on the record about it or corroborate it in a way that satisfies prevailing journalistic standards. Go ask a BBWAA member about why it took Jeff Bagwell so long to get into the Hall of Fame. Or simply go back and read what they said about him a few years ago.

Going beyond those cases are the cases of a host of players — players who have been on the ballot for years —  about which we’ll never, ever know. Do we know for sure that any of the guys currently on the ballot who played before drug testing never took PEDs? Of course not. In light of that all Morgan can ask is for voters to keep players of an entire era out. Which is a completely unreasonable and unfair request.

In the absence of guidance from the Hall of Fame or Major League Baseball, BBWAA voters were somewhat inconsistent with alleged PED users for a time, but they’re beginning to coalesce around a set of rough standards:

  • If you tested positive for PEDs or were disciplined for PEDs after the testing program was fully online like Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmeiro did, you’re not getting in. Figure Alex Rodriguez will fall in this group one day too;
  • If you were strongly and convincingly associated with PEDs in the pre-testing era like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the road you have to go down is going to be pretty bumpy, but you may, possibly, get in one day if you were an overwhelmingly great player;
  • If you were seen as one-dimensional like Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa and either admitted to PED use or were suspected of it, welp, sorry. We’ll leave why Sosa is suspected of it to another post.

All of this is will likely change slightly over time. Bonds and Clemens have recently gotten over the 50% voting threshold and could gain some steam with the voters. Alex Rodriguez was good enough and his post-career image rehabilitation has been such that he may get more support than most post-testing PED guys one day. Maybe McGwire and Sosa will get new looks down the road by some iteration of the Veteran’s Committee. After that, there aren’t a lot of guys who are seriously in the Hall of Fame discussion with credible PED claims against them.

Which is to say that history is sorting itself out, for better or for worse. Sorting itself out in a way that renders Morgan’s views on the matter — whether you consider them well-founded or otherwise — too little, too late and, given what we know and do not know about PED users, rather useless.