Larkin is in, Trammell is not, and likely won’t ever be. This despite the fact that they were remarkably similar players. Grant Brisbee takes that up over at SB Nation today and, after doing the standard statistical comparison, he adds a couple of new wrinkles to that now-familiar lament. The first: Trammell suffered because Cal Ripken was a contemporary and thus keeps him out of the “best shortstop in his league” conversation.
The other one is something I hadn’t thought of before:
Another difference between Larkin and Trammell is that the latter had a sidekick who was also worthy of the Hall of Fame. For just under two decades, Lou Whitaker played along Trammell, making All-Star teams and hitting at a position where most teams shouldn’t have a hitter. The two rode around on tandem bikes and finished each other’s sentences, and there might have been a tendency to pretend that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. If Trammell played a couple decades with Doug Flynn, maybe he would have stood out more.
Makes sense. And explains why Whitaker got less support than he should have too. Criminally less, given that he fell off the ballot in his first year of eligibility despite stacking up quite nicely with many Hall of Fame second basemen.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?