Author: Matthew Pouliot

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The HardballTalk Hall of Fame series

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We’re gearing up for Wednesday’s 2 p.m. EST Hall of Fame announcement here at HardballTalk. In case you missed it, here’s my little five-part series from last month on some of this year’s more controversial candidates, non-Bonds and Clemens division.

HOF voters: choose Mike Piazza or accuse him of using steroids

In 12 years as a primary catcher, his pitchers finished in the top third of the league in ERA 11 times. … We can argue whether Piazza is inner-circle or not, but he’s certainly a Hall of Famer according the numbers. Still, I’m guessing he’ll be left off 35-45 percent of the ballots when the votes are counted in January, despite never having failed a drug test.

Steroids or no, Sammy Sosa doesn’t belong in Hall of Fame

But that five-year run supplies the vast majority of Sosa’s case. The problem with Sosa is that he just wasn’t that valuable over the course of the rest of his six 30-homer seasons. He started out as a fine defensive outfielder, but he lost most of his value there by the time he became a great hitter. His initial 30-homer campaigns came with lousy OBPs and few doubles. His later ones came with average OBPs and poor defense.

Why on earth is Craig Biggio above steroid suspicion?

The case against [Jeff] Bagwell is that he showed little power as a youngster, befriended noted steroids user Ken Caminti, got a lot stronger in the majors and then turned into one of the game’s best players.

And that differs from Biggio how?

Inducting Jack Morris would lower the bar for the Hall of Fame

Morris pitched for 18 seasons, all of them in a 14-team American League. During that time, there were 504 ballots cast for the Cy Young Award. Morris received a first-place vote on five of those ballots. One percent. He got two first-place votes in 1983, when he finished third in the balloting behind the immortal LaMarr Hoyt and a reliever in Dan Quisenberry. He got the other three in 1991, when he finished fourth behind [Roger] Clemens, Scott Erickson and Jim Abbott.

The Hall of Fame case for Tim Raines

Raines was quite possibly the NL’s best player in a five-year span from 1983-87.  WAR thinks so, placing him ahead of Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn and Dale Murphy. Raines hit .318/.406/.467 during that span and averaged 114 runs scored and 71 steals per year. During those five years, only [Rickey] Henderson scored more runs (572-568) and only Wade Boggs had a better OBP (.443 to .406). And those two were playing in the other league.

2013 Free Agency Tracker

Zack Greinke, Ned Colletti, Magic Johnson
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We’ll be updating this one throughout the offseason. Players are listed based on their ranking in the Top 111 Free Agents. At the bottom is a listing of free agents who signed before the ranking came out, and we’ll be adding signings of players who didn’t make the top 111 as they come in.

(Update: I’ve added non-tendered players to the Top 111 below, with ** indicating the new players).

Re-signings are posted in red, while players signing with new teams get blue.

1. Josh Hamilton (OF Rangers): Angels – 5 yrs, $125 mil
2. Zack Greinke (RHP Angels): Dodgers – 6 yrs, $147 mil
3. Anibal Sanchez (RHP Tigers): Tigers – 5 yrs, $80 mil + option
4. B.J. Upton (OF Rays): Braves – 5 yrs, $75.25 mil
5. Michael Bourn (OF Braves):
6. Kyle Lohse (RHP Cardinals):
7. Nick Swisher (OF Yankees): Indians – 4 yrs, $56 mil + vesting option
8. Edwin Jackson (RHP Nationals): Cubs – 4 yrs, $52 mil
9. David Ortiz (DH Red Sox): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $26 mil-$30 mil
10. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP Yankees): Yankees – 1 yr, $15 mil
11. Adam LaRoche (1B Nationals): Nationals – 2 yrs, $24 mil + mutual option
12. Mike Napoli (C-1B Rangers): Red Sox – 1 yr, $5 mil + incentives
13. Mariano Rivera (RHP Yankees): Yankees – 1 yr, $10 mil
14. Dan Haren (RHP Angels): Nationals – 1 yr, $13 mil
15. Ryan Dempster (RHP Rangers): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $26.5 mil
16. Torii Hunter (OF Angels): Tigers – 2 yrs, $26 mil
17. Rafael Soriano (RHP Yankees): Nationals – 2 yrs, $28 mil + vesting option
18. Andy Pettitte (LHP Yankees): Yankees – 1 yr, $12 mil
19. Shane Victorino (OF Dodgers): Red Sox – 3 yrs, $39 mil
20. Kevin Youkilis (3B White Sox): Yankees – 1 yr, $12 mil
21. Stephen Drew (SS Athletics): Red Sox – 1 yr, $9.5 mil
22. Shaun Marcum (RHP Brewers):
23. Angel Pagan (OF Giants): Giants – 4 yrs, $40 mil
24. Ryan Ludwick (OF Reds): Reds – 2 yrs, $15 mil + mutual option
25. Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP Mariners): Mariners – 2 yrs, $14 mil + option
26. A.J. Pierzynski (C White Sox): Rangers – 1 yr, $7.5 mil
27. Jeremy Guthrie (RHP Royals): Royals – 3 yrs, $25 mil
28. Cody Ross (OF Red Sox): Diamondbacks – 3 yrs, $26 mil + option
29. Marco Scutaro (2B Giants): Giants – 3 yrs, $20 mil
30. Shohei Otani (RHP Japan): Remaining in Japan with Nippon Ham
31. Jonathan Broxton (RHP Reds): Reds – 3 yrs, $21 mil
32. Russell Martin (C Yankees): Pirates – 2 yrs, $17 mil
33. Jeremy Affeldt (LHP Giants): Giants – 3 yrs, $18 mil
**. Mark Reynolds (1B Orioles): Indians – 1 yr, $6 mil
34. Delmon Young (OF Tigers): Phillies – 1 yr, $750,000 + $2.5 mil incentives
35. Ichiro Suzuki (OF Yankees): Yankees – 2 yrs, $13 mil
36. Brandon McCarthy (RHP Athletics): Diamondbacks – 2 yrs, $15.5 mil
37. Brett Myers (RHP White Sox): Indians – 1 yr, $7 mil + option
38. Kyuji Fujikawa (RHP Japan): Cubs – 2 yrs, $9.5 mil + vesting option
**: Brian Wilson (RHP Giants):
**. John Lannan (LHP Nationals): Phillies – 1 yr, $2.5 mil
39. Carlos Villanueva (RHP Blue Jays): Cubs – 2 yrs, $10 mil
40. Lance Berkman (1B Cardinals): Rangers – 1 yr, $11 mil + option
41. Sean Burnett (LHP Nationals): Angels – 2 yrs, $8 mil + $4.5 mil vesting option
42. Koji Uehara (RHP Rangers): Red Sox – 1 yr, $4.25 mil
43. Melky Cabrera (OF Giants): Blue Jays – 2 yrs, $16 mil
44. Joe Saunders (LHP Orioles):
45. Kelly Johnson (2B Blue Jays):
46. Ryan Madson (RHP Reds): Angels – 1 yr, $3.5 mil + $3.5 mil incentives
47. Francisco Liriano (LHP White Sox): Pirates – 2 yrs, $12.75 mil
48. Jose Valverde (RHP Tigers):
49. Mike Adams (RHP Rangers): Phillies – 2 yrs, $12 mil + vesting option
50. Roy Oswalt (RHP Rangers):
51. Jeff Keppinger (INF Rays): White Sox – 3 yrs, $12 mil
52. Joakim Soria (RHP Royals): Rangers – 2 yrs, $8 mil
53. Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS Japan): Athletics – 2 yrs, $6.5 mil
54. Brandon Lyon (RHP Blue Jays):
55. Joe Blanton (RHP Dodgers): Angels – 2 yrs, $15 mil + option
56. J.P. Howell (LHP Rays): Dodgers – 1 yr, $2.85 mil + $1.2 mil incentives
57. Scott Baker (RHP Twins): Cubs – 1 yr, $5.5 mil
58. Juan Pierre (OF Phillies): Marlins – 1 yr, $1.6 mil
59. Matt Lindstrom (RHP Rockies):
60. Maicer Izturis (INF Angels): Blue Jays – 3 yrs, $10 mil + option
61. Kyle Farnsworth (RHP Rays):
**. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP Nationals): Brewers – 2 yrs, $6 mil
62. Erik Bedard (LHP free agent):
63. David Ross (C Braves): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $6.2 mil
64. Jon Rauch (RHP Mets):
65. Scott Hairston (OF Mets):
66. Jason Grilli (RHP Pirates): Pirates – 2 yrs, $6.75 mil
67. Jonny Gomes (OF Athletics): Red Sox – 2 yrs, $10 mil
68. Kevin Correia (RHP Pirates): Twins – 2 yrs, $10 mil
**. Mike Pelfrey (RHP Mets): Twins – 1 yr, $4 mil + incentives
69. Eric Chavez (3B Yankees): Diamondbacks – 1 yr, $3 mil
70. Raul Ibanez (OF-DH Yankees): Mariners – 1 yr, $2.75 mil
71. Roberto Hernandez (RHP Indians): Rays – 1 yr, $3.25 mil + incentives
72. Luke Scott (OF-DH Rays):
73. Vicente Padilla (RHP Red Sox): Signed $3.25 million to play in Japan
74. Scott Rolen (3B Reds):
**. Jeff Karstens (RHP Pirates): Pirates – 1 yr, $2.5 mil
75. Carlos Zambrano (RHP Marlins):
76. Carlos Lee (1B Marlins):
77. Francisco Rodriguez (RHP Brewers):
78. Placido Polanco (3B Phillies): Marlins – 1 yr, $2.75 mil
79. Jose Veras (RHP Brewers): Astros – 1 yr, $2 mil + option
80. Grady Sizemore (OF Indians):
81. Scott Feldman (RHP Rangers): Cubs – 1 yr, $6 mil
82. Alex Gonzalez (SS Brewers):
**. Jair Jurrjens (RHP Braves):
83. Matt Capps (RHP Twins):
**. Geovany Soto (C Rangers): Rangers – 1 yr, $2.75 mil
**. Nate Schierholtz (OF Phillies): Cubs – 1 yr, $2.25 mil
84. Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP Red Sox):
85. Carlos Pena (1B Rays): Astros – 1 yr, $2.9 mil + incentives
86. Jason Marquis (RHP Padres): Padres – 1 yr, $3 mil
87. Jason Frasor (RHP Blue Jays): Rangers – 1 yr, $1.5 mil
**: Manny Parra (LHP Brewers):
88. Derek Lowe (RHP Yankees):
89. Chris Young (RHP Mets):
90. Andruw Jones (OF Yankees): Signed $3.6 million deal to play in Japan
91. Michael Gonzalez (LHP Nationals): Brewers – 1 yr, $2.25 mil + incentives
92. Miguel Olivo (C Mariners):
**. Manny Acosta (RHP Mets): Signed $1.65 million deal to play in Japan
93. Jason Bartlett (SS free agent):
94. Kevin Millwood (RHP Mariners):
95. Jim Thome (DH Orioles):
96. Rod Barajas (C Pirates):
97. James Loney (1B Red Sox): Rays – 1 yr, $2 mil
98. Jeff Francis (LHP Rockies): Rockies – 1 yr, $1.5 mil + $1.5 mil in incentives
99. Kelly Shoppach (C Mets):
**. Jesus Flores (C Nationals): Dodgers – minor league contract
**. Andres Torres (OF Mets): Giants – 1 yr, $2 mil
**. Ryan Sweeney (OF Red Sox):
100. Mark Lowe (RHP Rangers):
101. Brandon Inge (3B Athletics):
102. Jonathan Sanchez (LHP Rockies):
103. Ty Wigginton (INF-OF Phillies): Cardinals – 2 yrs, $5 mil
104. Takashi Toritani (SS Japan): Remaining in Japan with Hanshin
105. Chien-Ming Wang (RHP Nationals):
***. Ian Stewart (3B Cubs): Cubs – 1 yr, $2 mil
106. Travis Hafner (DH Indians):
107. Ramon Ramirez (RHP Mets):
108. Carl Pavano (RHP Twins):
109. Reed Johnson (OF Braves): Braves – 1 yr, $1.75 mil + option
110. Hideki Okajima (LHP Japan):
111. Juan Rivera (OF Dodgers):

Signed pre-rankings:

Jake Peavy (RHP White Sox): White Sox – 2 yrs, $29 mil + vesting option
Brandon League (RHP Dodgers): Dodgers – 3 yrs, $22.5 mil + option
Chris Iannetta (C Angels): Angels – 3 yrs, $15.55 mil
Joel Peralta (RHP Rays): Rays – 2 yrs, $6 mil + options
Bartolo Colon (RHP Athletics): Athletics – 1 yr, $3 mil
Oliver Perez (LHP Mariners): Mariners – 1 yr, $1.5 mil

Other deals:

Randy Choate (LHP Dodgers): Cardinals – 3 yrs, $7.5 mil
Jack Hannahan (3B Indians): Reds – 2 yrs, $4 mil
Gerald Laird (C Tigers): Braves – 2 yrs, $3.3 mil
Nate McLouth (OF Orioles): Orioles – 1 yr, $2 mil
Dioner Navarro (C Reds): Cubs – 1 yr, $1.75 mil
Casey McGehee (3B Yankees): Signed $1.5 mil deal to play in Japan
Shawn Camp (RHP Cubs): Cubs – 1 yr, $1.35 mil
Eric Hinske (1B-OF Braves): Diamondbacks – 1 yr, $1.075 mil
Jason Bay (OF Mets): Mariners – 1 yr – $1 mil
Zach Duke (LHP Nationals): Nationals – 1 yr

Eye on 200 wins, Livan Hernandez intends to keep pitching

Livan Hernandez
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Although he lost his fastball years ago and was unable to find a rotation spot last season, free agent Livan Hernandez wants to keep on pitching in 2013.

So, yeah, 200 is a big long shot for the “37-year-old” right-hander. Hernandez spent 2012 as a reliever for the Braves and Brewers and finished with a 6.42 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds; he gave up 11 of his 31 runs in his last two appearances, both of which came following long layoffs in September. Still, even throwing that out, he was a mop-up man with a 5.05 ERA. At least he did go 4-1.

Hernandez is currently sixth on the active wins list. The current leader, Jamie Moyer (269), is likewise iffy to get a job next year, while No. 2 on the list, Andy Pettitte (245), has already retired and come back. The only righties ahead of Hernandez are Roy Halladay (199) and Tim Hudson (197). CC Sabathia (191) is in fifth place.

Andruw Jones still a far better player than Terence Moore is a writer

Terence Moore
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MLB.com should be ashamed to have published such a hack job.

Former Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Terence Moore takes on Andruw Jones today as only he can:

The bottom line: Jones is only assured of joining the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame of Disappointment.

The majority of Jones’ lowlights came later.

With apologies to Simon & Garfunkel, where have you gone, Andruw Jones, and how did you lose your way to Cooperstown?

Not only was Jones supposed to waltz from Yankee Stadium in October 1996 to the Hall of Fame, he was supposed to do so as a lifetime member of the Braves.

Sad. Really sad.

And I thought I was obsessed with the Hall of Fame.

Honestly, that’s mostly what there is to it. There’s certainly nothing new there, unless you want to see a John Smoltz quote saying Jones had “it!”. Moore even regurgitates the story about the one time in 17 years Jones was benched for not hustling to catch a flyball. There’s no insight at all; nothing into what caused Jones’ inconsistency or early-30s swoon. Really, the whole article is a lesson into what one could do with access to a baseball player’s wikipedia page and an intro to writing course. There’s certainly nothing there that suggests Moore actually covered Jones for the bulk of his career.

And that’s what really makes this pathetic. Moore should have all of the artillery necessary to bash Jones if there’s anything there to bash. The only real takeaway from the column is that Moore expected Jones to hit 500 homers and become a first-ballot Hall of Famer and he’s taking it personally that it didn’t happen.

Sad. Really sad.

///

Actually, this is even worse than I originally thought. It turns out Moore’s column today is essentially a rewriting of Moore’s Jan. 4, 2012 column on Jones. And barely rewritten. He’s even got the same Simon & Garfunkel line in there, and he ends the previous piece with a “How sad,” as opposed to today’s “Sad. Really sad.”

Indians add Scott Kazmir on minor league deal

Scott Kazmir
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The bidding war wasn’t enough to get Scott Kazmir a major league contract, but there was considerable interest in the left-hander after a fine month in Puerto Rico and the Indians signed him to a minor league deal on Friday, according to The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes

Kazmir was 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA for Carolina in Puerto Rico, but it came with a nice 27/8 K/BB ratio and just one homer allowed in 22 2/3 innings.

The soon-to-be 29-year-old Kazmir hasn’t pitched in the majors since getting lit up by the Royals on April 3, 2011. The Angels quickly stashed him on the DL, and he went 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA in Triple-A before receiving his release. He opened 2012 out of baseball, only to later sign with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters and go 3-6 with a 5.34 ERA in 14 starts.

Kazmir figures to open 2013 in the rotation at Triple-A, but the Indians won’t keep him there long if he impresses. If he’s recovered some of his lost velocity, he could help at the back of the rotation.