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

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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?

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.