December is list season. Usually end-of-year lists. But ESPN.com has decided to do an all-time list, asking their scores of baseball writers, editors and experts to rank the top 100 players of all time.
They’re calling it the Hall of 100, and it’s their stab at a Hall of Fame of sorts. The good news: the voters were explicitly instructed to ignore PEDs and character stuff. They were merely to go on on-the-field performance.
The bad news: (1) they’re releasing their rankings piecemeal, so as of today they’re still only through 26, with the top 25 coming tomorrow; and (2) based on rankings it appears that the old timers — 19th century players, deadballers and, most notably, the Negro Leaguers — are getting short shrift. Maybe understandable given that you tend to favor what you know, but still a bit of a disappointment.
The redeeming news: Twitter’s Old Hoss Radbourn has a running commentary of each pick, critiquing the player and/or ESPN’s rank. Such as this comment about Chipper Jones:
Or this one about Jackie Robinson:
Can’t read the rankings without the commentary, can’t have the commentary without the rankings. If ESPN was cool they’d put Hoss’ comments alongside their list.
Evan Longoria was already under the Rays’ control through 2016 thanks to a long-term contract he signed literally one week after his big-league debut in 2008, but today the two sides agreed to a six-year, $100 million extension that runs through 2022.
By combining the remainder of his previous contract and the $100 million extension Longoria will now be paid $136 million for the next 10 seasons. Tampa Bay also holds an option for 2023, potentially keeping him under contract through age 37. In other words, this is essentially a career-long commitment.
Tampa Bay made a very bold, unique move signing Longoria to a long-term deal days into his MLB career and this is another aggressive, interesting decision. Clearly the penny-pinching Rays couldn’t compete for a player like Longoria on the open market, but by taking on the considerable risk of a decade-long commitment to a player they already controlled for another four years they will be in line to get a significant discount if he stays healthy and productive into his 30s.
Of course, injuries have been a major issue for Longoria. He missed 88 games this year with a torn hamstring and was out for 28 games in 2011, but his production has never waned. Longoria hit .289 with 17 homers and an .896 OPS in 2012 and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft has an .877 career OPS that ranks third among all active third basemen behind only Alex Rodriguez and David Wright (and the retiring Chipper Jones).
If Chipper Jones’ retirement means that we’re gonna get late night JFK conspiracy twitter rants and the like, consider me much happier about Chipper Jones’ retirement than I previously was:
The Braves pitching coach for the past few years has been Roger McDowell. How much you wanna bet that Mr. Magic Loogie and Chipper discussed this at length on team flights?
Also: why do I laugh uncontrollably when I picture Chipper Jones, sitting in front of his locker in, say, Shea Stadium in 1997, reading the Warren Commission Report? I picture Maddux walking away from him whenever Jones tries to make a point but, like, Ryan Klesko nodding his head and asking Jones to tell him more.
In the same story that mentioned the Dodgers’ interest in Torii Hunter, Bob Nightengale of USA Today also noted that the Rangers recently tried to acquire shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the Braves.
Why would the Rangers do this? Well, general manager Jon Daniels isn’t interested in giving up either Elvis Andrus or top prospect Jurickson Profar in a trade for Diamondbacks’ outfielder Justin Upton, so the plan was to flip Simmons to Arizona. Interesting idea, but the Braves didn’t bite.
It’s not clear what the Rangers offered for Simmons, but Mike Olt’s name likely came up in conversations since the Braves could be in the market for a new third baseman following Chipper Jones’ retirement. So far the Diamondbacks have been reluctant to accept Olt as a centerpiece of a deal for Upton, instead preferring either Andrus or Profar. We heard last night that if the Rangers can’t find a match with the Diamondbacks, the Rays may be positioned as to emerge as front-runners.