Andre Dawson: ‘I didn’t play against more than a few Hall of Famers’

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Andre Dawson is pretty much the definition of a borderline Hall of Famer. He led his league in homers once and RBI once, both in 1987. He never led his league in average, on-base percentage or slugging percentage. He finished at .279/.323/.482 with 438 homers and 1,591 RBI in a career divided evenly between center field and right field.

Dawson, though, seems to think he’s inner-circle, though perhaps it doesn’t help that he’s being egged on by Barry Rozner in a Daily Herald interview.

“The thing is, I played a long time in the majors, and a couple more in the minors, and I didn’t play with that many Hall of Fame-caliber ballplayers,” Dawson said. “I didn’t play against more than a few Hall of Famers.”

Of course, any Hall of Fame selective enough to only elect a few of the best players over a 20-year span wouldn’t have Dawson for a member. It also probably wouldn’t be popular enough to draw crowds and stay in business.

But then, this interview is more about PEDs and what they did to poor Andre’s numbers.

“The guys who took steroids disrespected the game, and disrespected the history,” Dawson said. “Our history relies so much on the numbers, and the numbers have been destroyed.”

It’s an ironic argument coming from a guy who wouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame at all if not for the rabbit ball year of 1987. Dawson had his league-leading 49 homers and 137 RBI that year and won a undeserved MVP because of those numbers. He finished just 10th in the league in OPS despite being aided by Wrigley Field, and while Dawson began his career as a top-notch defensive center fielder, he had lost range and moved to right by 1987.

Maybe that’s not entirely fair — Dawson had nothing to do with the conditions of 1987 — but the fact is that Dawson averaged 22 homers and 81 RBI in the four years surrounding that season. Give him another one of those instead of his 49 and 137, and it’s doubtful the writers vote him in.

Still, this is really about drugs. Let’s go back to that.

“I’m mad about what they did to the game. I think of Hank (Aaron) and Willie (Mays) and Mickey (Mantle), it makes me really angry,” Dawson said. “We worked really, really hard to get to a certain level. They did it with drugs.”

Really, those are the three players you bring up? Two amphetamine abusers and a guy in Mantle who would have put pretty much anything into his body?

Maybe you should just crawl back into the ivy, Andre.

MLBPA thinks all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration

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There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.

If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:

  • In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
  • Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
  • If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.

In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.

There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.

The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!