Cooperstown

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

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The 2014 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday afternoon and Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are on their way to Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Maddux was named on 97.2%, Glavine 91.9% and Thomas 83.7%. The highest total for a non-electee went to Craig Biggio who fell just short at 74.8%. The full results can be seen here.

This summer’s induction will mark the first time since 1999 that three players were selected by the baseball writers. That year saw George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount make the cut. The last time as many as four made it in via the writers’ ballot was 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Dazzy Vance and Ted Lyons made it in.  In all, six men will be on the stage in Cooperstown, as Maddux, Glavine and Thomas will be inducted alongside Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, all of whom were unanimously selected by the Veteran’s Committee in December.

MORE: The PED Eight — players who continue to be denied induction

But while this year’s induction class will be big by historical standards, the names of the players who did not gain induction are pretty big themselves. Craig Biggio had over 3,000 hits in his career and did everything one can do on a baseball diamond, yet somehow continues to be on the outside looking in. Baseball’s all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds, is in the cold as well, as is seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. Mike Piazza, perhaps the greatest hitting catcher in the game’s history will have to face the voters again next winter, as will Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent and several others who, if you go by historical standards, fit in quite well alongside current inductees and dwarf the accomplishments of a great many of them.

Of course, historical standards are no longer operative given that the players currently under consideration plied their trade during the so-called Steroids Era and thus either took performance enhancing drugs (e.g. Bonds at 34.7% and Clemens at 35.4%) or, in the case of some, are merely suspected of doing so, often based on little if any evidence other than the number of home runs they hit or the company they kept (e.g. Jeff Bagwell, at 54.3% and Piazza at 62.2%). In the case of others, such as Tim Raines (46.1%) and Mike Mussina (20.3%), the ballot logjam occasioned by so many strong candidates lingering on the ballot for many years combined with the fact that voters can only select ten players, is squeezing them out. We will be discussing the particular cases of these players and the role of PEDs in the Hall of Fame process later today at HardballTalk.

MORE: Who was BBWWA member who sold vote to Deadspin?

But better to be overlooked or squeezed out than to fall off the ballot entirely. Such is fate for Jack Morris, who received 61.5% of the vote on his fifteenth and final time up for election. Multiple other players fell short of 5% of the vote and, per Hall of Fame rules, will not be eligible for election by the baseball writers again. Of these, only Rafael Palmeiro, who received 4.4%, actually had arguable Hall of Fame credentials. Morris and the rest will now be fodder for the Veteran’s Committee in future years.

But oversights and eliminations notwithstanding, this year’s induction class is strong by any measure. And given that last year’s induction class included absolutely no one who had been alive since 1930, it looks especially strong with reference to recent precedent.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.