Tommy Milone was the odd man out in the A’s rotation before today, so there was really no place for him in Oakland following the Jon Lester trade. And now the 27-year-old left-hander is headed to Minnesota is a deal that brings 32-year-old outfielder Sam Fuld back to Oakland.
Fuld has had a very nice season for the Twins, hitting .274 with a .370 on-base percentage and 12 steals in 53 games, but he’s a career .240 hitter with a .323 OBP and Minnesota claimed him off waivers from Oakland in April. In other words, three months ago the A’s didn’t even think Fuld was worth a roster spot. He’s a solid fourth outfielder who can get on base a little bit with good speed and plus defense, but mostly this move speaks to how little the A’s now think of Milone and how worried they are about center field with Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry hurting.
Milone’s numbers with the A’s have been solid, including a 3.84 ERA in 443 innings, but a good defense and a pitcher-friendly ballpark have made him look better than he actually is. He’s a soft-tossing southpaw with a career strikeout rate of 6.5 per nine innings–which certainly fits the Twins’ preferred pitching mold–but he’s closer to a fourth or fifth starter than a mid-rotation guy. Still, to get a useful 27-year-old starting pitcher for a 32-year-old outfielder you claimed off waivers a few months ago is a no-brainer move for Minnesota.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.