Murray Chass to give up his Hall of Fame vote after one last dumb Hall of Fame vote

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Murray Chass, who despite being a mere blogger, has a Hall of Fame vote and will have it until he dies. He has decided to give it up, however, arguing — quite sensibly, I’ll note — that baseball writers shouldn’t be in the business of making baseball news.  It’s the same approach T.J. Quinn is taking and the same policy a lot of newspapers apply to their writers who would otherwise be eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame, including Chass’ former employer, the New York Times.

But Chass isn’t giving up his vote yet. He was one last bit of unfinished business: electing Jack Morris. Morris gets Chass’ sole vote this year and, if he is not elected, will get his sole vote next year. Chass will quite voting when Morris is inducted or falls off the ballot, whichever comes first.

As for why he’s pro-Morris:

I think I am safe in concluding that Morris did not cheat. I know the stats zealots don’t think Morris is a Hall of Famer because his rankings in their new-fangled ratings fall below their standards. But they don‘t have a formula for intestinal fortitude or determination.

As always, it’s hilarious when things like ERA, wins, losses, strikeouts, walks and stuff like that are considered “new-fangled. Meanwhile, measuring things like intestinal fortitude and determination would take bleeding-edge statistical analysis to get one’s mind around.

Eh, whatever. No one listens to bloggers anyway. Because all they do is pass along secondhand information and act like they know what they’re talking about. Like this:

When Bagwell was eligible initially a couple of years ago, I voted for him, then was told he was a steroids guy. Trusting the information, I haven’t voted for him since.

A man has to have standards.

Mark Lerner says Nationals can’t afford both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg

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The defending champion Washington Nationals may have to replace two star players in third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Stephen Strasburg as both are free agents. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras and both are expected to command lucrative contracts. As a result, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said the club can’t afford to bring back both players, Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington reports.

Lerner told Donald Dell in an interview, “We really can only afford to have one of those two guys. They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

As Dybas notes, there are myriad reasons why Lerner would say this publicly. If Lerner had instead said, “Yeah, we’re filthy stinking rich, especially coming off of a World Series win. We could afford to get every free agent if we wanted to,” then the Nationals would have no leverage in negotiations. Creating artificial scarcity increases the Nationals’ leverage when negotiating with Boras and his clients. And as Dybas also points out, Lerner’s statement also prepares fans for an unsatisfactory outcome not unlike when the club took itself out of the running to bring back outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this year. This not to say Lerner’s statement is justified; it’s just how things work in the current system.

Lerner also defended the Nationals’ approach to free agency. He said, “They think you’re really back there printing money and it’s whoever goes to the highest bidder. It’s not that way at all. You give these fellas — there’s a negotiation that goes on, but…We’ve been pretty successful in free agency over time. You’re not going to get everybody. Certain players may want to go home, closer to where their home is. You never know the reason why people move on. But, we’ve been very successful. Probably one of the most successful teams in free agency the last 10 years. We’re very proud of our record. But, again, I think people have to realize, it’s not all up to us.”

It is true that the Nationals have been one of the most active teams in free agency in recent years. In a league that has otherwise done the opposite, they deserve some credit for that. But the Nationals are also keenly aware of the competitive balance tax threshold, which teams use as a de facto salary cap. They don’t have to, but they choose to because it’s a convenient structure that allows them to limit expenditures.

At the end of the day, it’s baseball’s financial structure that is rotten. It forces constant misinformation out of everyone’s mouths so as to protect their financial interests and leverage, and incentivizes teams to value profits above all. In a perfect world, MLB team owners wouldn’t need to cry poor every offseason, but we don’t live in such a world.