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.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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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.