Cooperstown

Madden: the Deadspin Hall of Fame vote-buy is “one of the most despicable things I can ever think of”

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The Daily News’ Bill Madden was on Chris Russo’s MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this afternoon, reacting to Deadspin’s purchase of a Hall of Fame vote from a BBWAA member. Go listen to the segment here. You will not be shocked to learn that Madden is not pleased with this.

Madden started out by saying that whoever sold his or her vote would be “dead in the baseball writers …” which he later clarified to mean drummed out, saying “this person will be forever banished from the Baseball Writers’ Association.” He added that this is “one of the most despicable things I can ever think of.”

All of which is understandable. To be clear: I personally think this is all a riot and could serve to open some people’s eyes about how messed up the Hall of Fame voting is. But the organization itself can’t tolerate this. Indeed, if I were a senior or managing member of the BBWAA I’d be angry too, in that it makes the organization look like a joke. If and when this person is kicked out of the BBWAA it will be well-deserved and a totally valid thing for the BBWAA to do. Take a provocative action and pay the price, you know.

But the desire for someone in the BBWAA to essentially give the organization the finger here is easy to sympathize with when you hear Madden start to get self-righteous about the BBWAA’s role in the Hall of Fame voting.  Madden, when trying to illustrate why it’s so off-base to go after the BBWAA like Deadspin, this voter and other critics are, says “it’s because of the baseball writers — because it’s so hard to get into the Hall of Fame — that’s the reason this is the only Hall of Fame that anyone gives a damn about.”

Me personally? I’d say they give a damn about it because of the baseball stuff. The players inducted, the history it represents and the memorabilia and mementos the institution curates and maintains. The fact that it chronicles and honors a sport with a far richer and far longer history than those other Halls of Fame he mentions do.

But hey, if Madden and other baseball writers believe that it is their gatekeeping which gives the place public legitimacy, well, God bless them. But understand that such an arrogance is exactly why people like Deadspin and this rogue voter are doing what they’re doing. And why, in the Internet age, when people who do not work for newspapers can actually have their voices heard, the folks who are the gatekeepers are getting a lot of blowback.

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.