It’s almost that time! The time to argue for a couple of months on-end about the Hall of Fame! The ballot has been released. Here it is, with 17 holdovers and 17 newcomers.
Here are the new guys:
Quick analysis: Johnson and Martinez should be shoe-ins. Smoltz will get a LOT of support and could very well make it. No one else need apply, though I think Gary Sheffield deserves far more support than he’ll get.
And here are the holdovers, with their vote totals from last year:
Craig Biggio (74.8%)
Mike Piazza (62.2%)
Jeff Bagwell (54.3%)
Tim Raines (46.1%)
Roger Clemens (35.4%)
Barry Bonds (34.7%)
Lee Smith (29.9%)
Curt Schilling (29.2%)
Edgar Martinez (25.2%)
Alan Trammell (20.8%)
Mike Mussina (20.3%)
Jeff Kent (15.2%)
Fred McGriff (11.7%)
Mark McGwire (11.0%)
Larry Walker (10.2%)
Don Mattingly (8.2%)
Sammy Sosa (7.2%)
Analysis: Biggio should get over the hump and certainly deserves it. It’s hard to see anyone else gaining enough ground to make it, though Piazza should make a push. Multiple guys, of course, deserve to be in the Hall of Fame here. Among them: Bagwell, Raines, Clemens, Bonds, Schilling, Martinez, Trammell, Mussina and McGwire. Many make a good strong case for Walker and Sosa does have 609 home runs.
But, of course, there are politics to all of this. And silliness. And controversy. And a lot of Hall of Fame voters who have no business near a ballot.
And, like I said, we have a good month or so to discuss all of that. And most certainly will.
There are now multiple reports citing Pablo Sandoval’s agent saying that there is no done-deal between his client and the Red Sox. He’s saying, however, that Sandoval will make a decision by the end of the day.
Once again, noting Jon Heyman’s historic accuracy with such things, I suspect that the hesitance to confirm that a deal is in place with the Red Sox is caught up with Sandoval’s people wanting to formally communicate with the other clubs who have made offers — the Giants and the Padres — that Sandoval is not going to accept. Which, while certainly not necessary, would be a courteous thing.
Upshot: thinking we’ll hear within a few hours that the Sandoval to Boston deal is done.
That’s what Ken Rosenthal is hearing anyway:
The Giants are already tied to Yasmany Tomas and, with Sandoval gone, could and should be players for third baseman Chase Headley.
But loading for bear with pitching isn’t the worst alternative either.
We’re still awaiting official confirmation of the Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signings in Boston. But let’s get out in front of this one in the meantime:
Yes, that was about the 2011 Red Sox after the Carl Crawford and Adrain Gonzalez signings, and yes, I’ve already seen some of you talk about how the Sox signing Ramirez and Sandoval reminds you of that. Which, OK, I get the association. But let’s also remember a couple of things about all of that.
The Crawford and Gonzalez signings committed the Sox to seven years and $296 million. The Sandoval and Ramirez signings, if accurately reported, would be five years and less than $200 million. So already it’s nothing like that in terms of the dough.
The bigger issue, I think, is that offense is growing ever more scarce and the Sox have a better foundation with younger/upside guys like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo to hedge against shortfalls from expectations on the part of Sandoval and Ramirez. Also worth noting that a big problem for the 2011 Sox was that the pitching didn’t meet expectations. The current Red Sox have some pitching needs to address, but it’s also just November 24, and one has to assume they will address it, either with cash to someone like John Lester or Max Scherzer or via a trade with what is now a surplus of outfielders and other position players.
None of which is to say that these moves guarantee that the Sox will compete in 2015. We all remember how such predictions have gone for the teams which have made the big splashes in the past, be it those old Sox, the 2012 Marlins, the 2013 Blue Jays and a host of other teams.
But simply pointing to the 2011 Sox and saying “it didn’t work before, so it won’t work again” is no more sound than going all-in on a prediction of guaranteed success.
The deals are not done yet. Hanley Ramirez is said to be close and Pablo Sandoval is not even signed yet (though some dude claims Sandoval was on his flight to Boston last night; we’re clearly in silly season, folks). And heck, it could be that the Sox went after Ramirez with the notion of giving up on the pursuit of Sandoval. But let us ponder what the 2015 Red Sox look like if both of these highly-sought-after infielders sign in Boston.
Well, for one thing they probably aren’t both infielders anymore. Sandoval would be. He’d be the Red Sox’ Opening Day third baseman and, eventually I presume, their DH once David Ortiz retires. But what of Ramirez? Because the Sox have Xander Bogaerts to play shortstop, and he’ll certainly play it way better than Ramirez can.
You have to figure Ramirez becomes an outfielder. And you have to assume that he’d be the left fielder because, really, isn’t that where you’d be most likely to put a converted infielder? And if Hanley Ramirez is an outfielder some dudes need to be moved. Because at the moment they Red Sox have a lot of outfielders: Mookie Betts. Yoenis Cespedes. Rusney Castillo. Shane Vicotorino. Allen Craig and Daniel Nava are floating around too.
Yoenis Cespedes has been rumored to be on the block already. If both Sandoval and Ramirez were signed he could be traded, either on his own or packaged up somehow with, I dunno, Will Middelbrooks, likely for some much-needed starting pitching. And that, of course, is assuming the Sox don’t also sign Jon Lester which, heck, I suppose they could too. At any rate, they could enter 2015 with a lineup like this:
1. Mookie Betts RF
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. David Ortiz DH
4. Hanley Ramirez LF
5. Pablo Sandoval 3B
6. Mike Napoli 1B
7. Xander Bogaerts SS
8. Rusney Castillo CF
9. Christian Vazquez C
That would play. And, you have to figure — assuming they use their cash and thier outfielder surplus to get some pitching — would make the Sox the early favorites in the A.L. East.