Hall of Fame absurdity continues as Marvin Miller excluded, three PED-aided managers inducted

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I think Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox are no-brainer Hall of Famers. Congrats to them and to the Committee for voting them in.

I think that the rest of the Hall of Fame ballot contained mostly borderline selections. I’d vote for Ted Simmons. I’d consider Steinbrenner for historic reasons. But I shed no tears for them not getting in. They clearly aren’t as deserving as those three managers who made it, and realistically you’re never going to see more than three guys get in from such a small group of voters.

But I do have two problems with this vote, one direct and one indirect.

The direct problem is one I’ve mentioned many times before, and that’s the horrendous exclusion of Marvin Miller. He’s been passed over multiple times now, and he’s probably never getting in. I’ve accepted that. I’ll never accept, however, that the Hall of Fame is anything approaching legitimate without Miller’s inclusion. Many owners, executives and commissioners — many feckless at best, some actively harmful to the game — are in the Hall. Very few of them if any have had as big an impact on how baseball operates than Miller.

The only reason people care about these Winter Meetings is free agency and the hot stove league. The only reason we have free agency and the hot stove league is Marvin Miller. Also: there are a lot of players on the Veteran’s Committee who made way more money playing baseball than they would’ve if not for Marvin Miller, if at least that subset of the committee didn’t vote for Marvin Miller, well, shame on them.

The indirect complaint: we now have three managers in the Hall of Fame whose greatest fame and success came during what has come to be known as the Steroid Era. La Russa has at least one less World Series ring and three fewer pennants if it was not for PED poster boys Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Torre has two fewer rings and three fewer pennants without Roger Clemens. There were certainly other PED dudes on the Yankees, Cardinals, A’s and Braves teams managed by Cox, Torre and La Russa. The Veteran’s Committee obviously does not consider their accomplishments to be any less worthy, even if they were aided by performance enhancing drugs. Why, then, does the BBWAA still consider that a disqualification for the Hall of Fame?

I don’t suspect anyone will provide a satisfying answer to that. We’ll all just have to continue to live with that ridiculous contradiction. And ridiculous exclusions. It’s an imperfect process and an imperfect institution. But it’s still worth pointing out the absurdities, because they never cease to be galling.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.