Gossage

Rich Gossage would purge all of the modern home run records if he were in charge

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I once actually committed an act of journalism. I interviewed Hall of Fame relief pitcher Rich Gossage. It took place in January 2010 and it was a fantastic experience. Gossage was polite, accommodating, expansive and interesting. Most of all, his answers seemed very thoughtful. He wasn’t spouting off talking points or cliches. He was thinking about his answers and explaining himself.

The topic: mostly PED users and the Hall of Fame. Like most former players, Gossage was unhappy with the scourge of steroids. But he also struck a very realistic tone at the time, noting how complicated the matter was. His money quote, given in response to what he and other Hall of Famers might do if/when it is discovered that a current member of the Hall of Fame used PEDs, was this:

“I don’t really know what I’d do. We’d have to find out all the facts. It’s a big dark cloud. I don’t know what the scenario would look like“

He added that how the Hall of Fame voters treated guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, saying “if they let in some of those guys, I guess things are different.  What I said about integrity yesterday still stands, but as for the Hall, we’d have to see how the writers handled it. I can only speak for what I believe.” He concluded by saying that he had no problem with cocaine users such as Dave Parker or Tim Raines being inducted.”

In the past four years Gossage’s tone on the matter has shifted from one of personal disapproval — here’s what I believe, but it’s not all up to me, as it were — to one far greater certainty and stridence. He spoke to the New York Post over the weekend, slamming PED users and arguing that all of the pre-PED home run records should be restored. He said “are you f***ing kidding me?” regarding PED guys and then offered a lot of nonsense about Ken Griffey Jr. and great home run hitters’ aging patterns (note: Hank Aaron, like Bonds, had some of his best seasons late in his career).

I don’t know what has changed with Gossage over the past four years to change him from a guy who, while believing what he believed about PEDs, did not believe he had a monopoly on wisdom on the matter to a guy who is so damn certain and, if you put him in charge, would purge records from the books. But given my previous interaction with him, it’s somewhat disappointing.

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

Brandon Belt
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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.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Associated Press
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.