David Otiz

David Ortiz passes Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time home run list — is he a Hall of Famer?

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David Ortiz hit two home runs against the Blue Jays last night. The first one tied him with Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time home run list, the second one passed him. Ortiz hit 58 with the Twins, so he’s still behind him on the Red Sox list.

Overall, Ortiz now sits alone at 36th all-time with 453 bombs. Ahead of him in the near future: Adam Dunn, Jose Canseco, Dave Winfield and Chipper Jones at 454, 452, 465 and 468, respectively. Obviously Dunn is still active.

One of the more controversial subjects we bring up around here from time to time are David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame chances. I feel like I’m in the minority on this one, but I do think he is both Cooperstown bound and Cooperstown worthy.

I dug into the argument pretty deeply the morning after Game 6 of the World Series last fall, but the summary of it was:

  • On the numbers alone he is comfortably within the middle of the pack of already-enshrined Hall of Fame hitters;
  • While people discount his contributions because he’s a DH, it’s not like DH hasn’t been an established position for pushing half a century and it’s not like we don’t already induct hyper-specialists into the Hall of Fame (see, one-inning relief pitchers);
  • If we give extra credit for the playoffs — and we typically do — it’s worth noting that Oritz has a career World Series line of .455/.576/.795 with 14 RBI in 14 games; and
  • While some will cite his PED history, (a) it is the slightest of all PED histories imaginable given that it came during the 2003 trial testing period which came with no penalties and was supposed to have been anonymous; and (b) he tends to get a pass on this from many in the media who are not so forgiving to PED-implicated players.

Going against his chances are that, so far, the BBWAA voters have shown no inclination to vote in the guy who many feel was the best DH in baseball history in Edgar Martinez. But I bet the Boston + three World Series rings factor will end up giving Ortiz a lot of extra credit among those same voters. Almost all teams which win a World Series have at least one Hall of Famer. Teams which win three World Series ALL have Hall of Famers. Who would Boston’s be? If it ain’t Ortiz, I’d be curious to see who your candidate is.

Maybe I still haven’t convinced most of you. But as we debate this, Ortiz will continue to climb the career home run list.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.