The Hall of Fame ballot is out, and it’s jam-packed with Hall of Famers

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The Hall of Fame ballot for the 2014 inductions has been released and it’s so full of Hall of Fame-worthy players it’s a bit ridiculous. Of course, because voters are limited to ten votes and most voters have decided to make the Hall of Fame election a morality test rather than just an assessment of baseball merit, hardly any of these guys will get in.  But some will.

The entire ballot can be seen at the BBWAA website. The most notable first-timers: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina. Among the holdovers with seriously strong Hall of Fame chances or, at the very least, cases: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Alan Trammell. There are several others on the ballot who deserve strong consideration as well but aren’t getting it.

A big reason some of them aren’t getting it? PEDs. Bonds, Clemens and McGwire were considered locks for the Hall of Fame at one point in their career, but are all practically disqualified now due to voters’ aversion to PED-connected players entering Cooperstown’s hallowed Hall. Bagwell and Piazza got way fewer votes than they should have because voters’ aversion to PEDs is so great that they’ll assume PED use even for guys who have never been credibly connected with the stuff. This is what we’re dealing with, folks.

As for handicapping the voting, Raines, Piazza, Bagwell, Morris and Biggio got over 50% of the vote last year, so they have to be considered contenders. Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are all pretty close to locks, one would assume, given the absence of PED-ties and their clearly strong cases on purely baseball merits. Of course, not all of them will get in, most likely because the overstuffed ballot will split support among the many worthy candidates.

Gun to my head, I figure Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Biggio and Morris get in, with everyone else left out in the cold. If more than those guys creep in I’d say it’d be Bagwell or possibly Mussina, but my guess is they have some years to wait.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.