George Steinbrenner, Marvin Miller, nine others on Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame ballot

13 Comments

The Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee used to consider managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players every couple of years in one big lump.  Last summer they decided to break it up by era, with “Pre-Integration Era” candidates (1871-1946), “Golden Era” candidates (1947-1972) and “Expansion Era” candidates (starting in 1973) getting alternating consideration. They also decided that Expansion Era candidates go first, so they’re up this year, and today they announced the nominees:

Vida Blue
Dave Concepcion
Steve Garvey
Ron Guidry
Tommy John
Al Oliver
Ted Simmons
Rusty Staub
Billy Martin
Pat Gillick
Marvin Miller
George Steinbrenner

The name that will get all the press is Big Stein, and indeed, I think they started out with the Expansion Era specifically so they could vote him in in the year of his death.  As I’ve said before, I think Steinbrenner is a Hall of Famer. Yes, even though he was a sonofabitch. His impact on the game was tremendous, and his success as an owner — both on the baseball and business side of things — was pretty remarkable.  They don’t print money and make championship trophies for you just because you’re based in New York. Ask the Knicks. Ask the Mets.  Steinbrenner may have had some advantages at his disposal, but he exploited them, and it wasn’t easy work.

As for the others, I’m long on record as thinking Marvin Miller should be in the Hall. His impact was greater than Steinbrenner’s. Greater than almost every non-player already inducted. It’s a shame he wasn’t inducted years ago, though I don’t think it will matter. He likely gets snubbed again.

Billy Martin is a close call for me. Hell of a manager, but I can’t escape the notion that — from a purely baseball perspective — he did just as much harm as he did good.  Add in his personal baggage and he’s a tough sell.  I lean yes on some days and no on others.

I’d probably say no on all the players.  Tough call on a couple, but at the end of the day I don’t think Tommy John should get extra credit for having a surgery named after him, nor do I think most of the guys on that last were quite good enough.  Ted Simmons maybe. Crazy underrated. Whether he’s so underrated that we’re all missing a Hall of Famer I’m not sure.  I reserve the right to change my mind on this between now and the voting in December. I’m just riffing here.

About that voting: it will take place at the Winter Meetings next month, with the results announced on December 6th.  I’ll be there, my friends, and if the voting is too off base, rest assured, I’ll give some indignant looks to whatever Veteran’s Committee voters I see.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

Getty Images
10 Comments

The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.