Mel Hall is a Major League Baseball version of “that guy” for people my age. He never starred, but he was visible. He never played for winning teams but he was a halfway-decent player for bad ones. You probably remember his baseball cards more than remember him playing. The name is just north of the anonymity line in that, when you hear it, it makes you think “oh, yeah, the ballplayer from the 80s,” whereas someone just a notch down from him would require a Baseball-Reference.com search to confirm that, yes, he did play in the bigs.
He’s also at a level where you can be forgiven if you didn’t give him a single thought after he stopped playing. And if you didn’t give him a single thought, it means you missed the fact that he was arrested, charged and convicted of raping multiple young girls — some as young as 12-years-old — during and following his playing career. He’s now in a Texas prison, where he’ll be for at least another 17 years.
Yesterday Greg Hanlon of SB Nation wrote an in-depth look at Mel Hall and his awful crimes. It’s not for the feint of heart. The term “monster” gets used for a lot of bad guys, but it is an understatement in Hall’s case. Hanlon, through an in-depth look at the police and court records and interviews with some of Hall’s victims, explains how Hall used his fame, his friendly, outgoing nature and no small amount of bald-faced lying to get close to the young girls on which he preyed.
One clear takeaway here is that there is real evil in the world. But another one is that Hall couldn’t have done what he did nearly as easily if he had not been a professional athlete and if professional athletes were not treated the way they are treated in our society.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.