Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux, Tony La Russa to have blank caps on their Hall of Fame plaques

78 Comments

A few years ago Wade Boggs caused a stir when it was suggested that he had an agreement with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to have a Devil Rays cap featured on his Hall of Fame plaque. Either because of that — or by virtue of a grand coincidence — the Hall took the choice away from the players and decided that it, with an eye toward properly representing the players’ history it, and not the player, would make the final decision.

One caveat to that: the Hall still seeks player input, and the option of a blank cap remains on the table. One presumes this is so in the event that it truly is too difficult to assign one cap to a player given comparable historic legacies with multiple teams. Or, perhaps, if the player had a serious falling out with his most historically significant team at some point. Gotta have an out, right?

Well, two unexpected inductees have taken that out. From the Hall of Fames plaque announcement today:

In conjunction with the Hall of Fame, the six members of the class of 2014 have made their selections for the logo inclusion on their Hall of Fame plaque: Bobby Cox – Atlanta; Tom Glavine – Atlanta; Tony La Russa – no logo; Greg Maddux – no logo; Frank Thomas – Chicago White Sox; and Joe Torre –New York Yankees.

It seems pretty nuts to me that Maddux will not be in a Braves cap. While there are multiple ways to measure the value of a career, one must tread into the land of lunacy to come up with an argument that Maddux’s contributions to baseball as a Brave were rivaled by his contributions as a member of any of the other teams for which he played. Cubs included. Heck, add up his Cubs, Dodgers and Padres years and I bet you still don’t  equal his Braves years.

La Russa may be a closer case — he did win a World Series and three pennants with the A’s — but two rings with the Cardinals and nearly twice as many wins in St. Louis than in Oakland suggest that he should be a Cardinal on his plaque.

I assume that the deciding factor in both cases was Maddux and La Russa not wanting to play favorites. And I suppose that’s awfully nice and diplomatic of them. But really, if the Hall of Fame is not going to give the inductee final say, I’m not certain it should be weighing their preferences all that heavily either. Especially when such preferences, with all respect to the feelings of these two guys, skew ahistorical.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

chapman
9 Comments

OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

gettyimages-577291896
Getty Images
12 Comments

Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

*

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.