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Ken Gurnick’s Hall of Fame ballot is perhaps the laziest and most willfully ignorant ever


Still reeling at Ken Gurnick’s Jack Morris and no one else ballot. But I’m not reeling at the idea of Jack Morris being a Hall of Famer (if you think he is, good for you; I’ve stopped yelling at people for doing that). I’m also not reeling at the idea of a “protest against PED-era players” vote. I think that’s dumb, but if you have such convictions, by all means, vote your convictions.

No, I’m reeling at how feckless and ignorant a protest vote Gurnick has actually cast. Really, people who are big fans of protest votes should be angry at Gurnick for making them look dumb.

Once again, here’s Gurnick’s rationale:

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.

Jack Morris played through 1994. His career overlapped with nine of Greg Maddux’s seasons, including three of his four Cy Young seasons. So that either means that Gurnick thinks Maddux actually used PEDs while Morris did not or he has zero grasp on the concept of eras or what “the period of PED use” actually was. He’s making a distinction between Morris and Maddux (and Glavine and every other player on the ballot) that is not grounded in any sort of sense at all.

I don’t know when the first player took steroids, but it was certainly before Jack Morris retired. Indeed, Jack Morris’ signature accomplishment — winning Game 7 of the World Series with a ten-inning shutout — came in 1991. By 1991 Barry Bonds had an MVP Award and Roger Clemens had three Cy Young Awards and an MVP. Jose Canseco had hit 209 homers, won an MVP award and had been booed for steroid use. Mark McGwire had hit 178 home runs. Indeed, the Bash Brothers only had 97 games left together when Morris won Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Over half of Jack Morris’ wins came from Jose Canseco’s rookie year (1986) on.

That doesn’t mean Jack Morris did steroids, of course. But it does mean that no one who has a basic comprehension of time and simple logic can draw the kind of distinction between Jack Morris and the rest of the Hall of Fame ballot that Gurnick did. Because I assume Gurnick can read a calendar and because I’ve read his reporting and find it cogent, it can’t be that.

So what the hell is he doing here? Apart from just being near criminally lazy and flippant about a task that Hall of Fame voters like to tell us they take oh so very seriously?

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.