Craig Calcaterra

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30:  Matt Joyce #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pinch hits against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 30, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Pirates 3-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Matt Joyce signs with the Oakland Athletics

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Athletics have signed outfielder Matt Joyce to a two-year, $11 million contract, pending a physical.

Joyce had a nice bounceback year with the Pirates in 2016, hitting 13 homers and posting an .866 OPS (131 OPS+) over 293 plate appearances, primarily against righties. He’ll get the same sort of work, one suspects, as a platoon corner guy and occasional DH in Oakland.

Breaking down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame candidates: Harold Baines

OAKLAND, CA - 1989:  Harold Baines #3 of the Chicago White Sox steps into the swing during a 1989 season game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. First up: Harold Baines. 

The case for his induction:

Harold Baines played for 22 seasons, amassed 2,866 hits and made the All-Star Game six times. He was a fantastically consistent hitter, posting an OPS+ of 108 or greater every single season between the ages of 22 and 40. He was also a durable player, not missing a whole heck of a lot of time to either injury or ineffectiveness until his late 30s. Even then he managed to hang around until he was 42-years-old. In the early part of his career, with the Chicago White Sox, he was the star of the team and the face of the organization

The case against his induction:

One can’t criticize Baines as a ballplayer in an absolute sense, but there are a couple of hallmarks of Hall of Fame induction missing from his resume. While durability and consistency are necessary, they are usually not sufficient, and most inductees have a peak period of performance where they were considered the best or at least one of the best players in the game. Baines never had that, either by the numbers or by acclamation.

He led the league in exactly one offensive category in his long career: slugging percentage in 1984. He was rarely a top-10 finisher in the most important offensive categories. His highest finish in MVP balloting came in 1985 when he came in ninth. While Baines may have meant a lot to the White Sox in the first part of his career there is no way one can honestly argue that he was ever the best player in the game or even one of the best five, six or, usually, ten.

Beyond that there are some softer factors which make him seem like less of a Hall of Famer than many. Over 1,600 of his 2,830 career games came at DH, which many voters discount, even if they shouldn’t. That said, if one is going to DH and one is still not among the league leaders in most offensive categories, it’s a knock. When he did play in the field he was a subpar defender.

He appeared in the postseason in six different seasons but most of those came after his prime or when he was not the primary focus of his team’s offense. Only one of those appearances came in the World Series, with the Athletics in 1990. You don’t remember that? Well, there’s another knock against him: while Baines springs to mind as a member of the White Sox, he spent the final 13 years of his career bouncing back and forth around the league, making stops in Baltimore, Texas, Oakland, Cleveland and multiple return engagements with the Sox. We’re in a day and age when a player playing for lots of teams should not be considered a demerit, but it is often harder to get Hall of Fame traction when one did not star with one team for the majority of one’s career.

Would I vote for him?

No, can’t say that I would. Baines was a good, solid player for a very long time, but he was never truly great. Inner circle Hall-of-Very-Gooder, though.

Will the Committee vote for him?

Nope. Not a chance, I don’t think. But those of us who watched a lot of baseball in the 1980s still love ya, Harold.

Report: The Red Sox are likely not going to land Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford hears that the Red Sox are “probably not” going to be a finalist for free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion.

Not that that should make you sad if you’re a Sox fan who wants to see Encarnacion in Boston, as these sorts of rumors are often dekes and exercises in misdirection, often aimed at improving or degrading the negotiating position of the parties.

For what it’s worth, Encarnacion is said to be waiting for the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be finalized before agreeing to terms. That could come as early as tomorrow. In the meantime, he has been linked to the Yankees, Astros, Rangers, and Blue Jays, in addition to the Sox.