Robin Ventura still hasn’t named the White Sox’s closer

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Now that the Royals have officially picked Jonathan Broxton as Joakim Soria’s replacement nearly every team has named their closer, but one holdout is the guy with the least managing experience in the bunch (which is to say no managing experience).

Robin Ventura played coy with the media yesterday, refusing to disclose his closer while saying that the relievers “will know before the game” and “it’s not like I’m asking them to hit or catch, they’re just going to pitch … I think they’ll be fine.”

Pitching coach Don Cooper also told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that they definitely aren’t going with a closer-by-committee approach, saying: “There will be a set closer. Everything is going to be set. Bullpen positions will be set, and guys will know when they are pitching.”

In other words, they’re just keeping it a secret from the media and, by extension, the fans.

So who will actually wind up closing games early on? Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, and Hector Santiago are the options, with Thornton having the most ninth-inning experience and Reed having the most long-term upside in the role. Most reporters covering the team seem to think Thornton will start out with the gig, but Ventura’s secrecy about the whole thing might hint at one of the rookies getting the nod.

The 2019 Hall of Fame Class will be announced this evening

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This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was released just over two months ago. This evening at 6:15 PM Eastern, all of the arguing stops. Well, actually, it doesn’t stop, because it never stops. Not really. It just transforms into something more pointless, because as of then, the 2019 Hall of Fame class will be officially announced live on MLB Network.

The entire ballot can be found here. Two weeks ago I went through it, candidate-by-candidate, in order to determine who I would vote for if, in fact, I had a vote. For what it’s worth, I ended up with Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez. and Scott Rolen.

No, not all of those guys will be elected. I strongly suspect we’ll get three, with an outside chance at a fourth. Based on the best Hall of Fame voting tracker out there, Mariano Rivera is a lock. So too, it seems, is Roy Halladay. Edgar Martinez — on the ballot for is tenth and final time — likewise seems to have the support to finally make it. He was 20 votes short last year and, so far, he has picked up more than 20 new votes among voters who have revealed their ballots. Assuming that previous Martinez voters who have not released their ballots do not backtrack — a safe assumption — Edgar should, at long last, finally make it into Cooperstown.

The last guy who, at present, is trending above the required 75% is Mike Mussina who, at present, is included on 81% of public ballots. There is a tendency for the non-public voters to be stingier with their support, however, so there’s a pretty decent chance that Mussina will fall just under the threshold and will find himself back on the ballot next year. A jump from last year’s 63.5% support to something in the 70s, however, would bode very well for his 2020 chances. If he somehow makes it this year’s class will rival last year’s four-person BBWAA-elected class as one of the better ones in living memory.

Who will join Harold Baines and Lee Smith on the stage in Cooperstown in July? We find out this evening, just after 6 PM.