MLBRT 2/8

 

This week’s questions and discussion…

1) Recently Larry Walker told TSN Montreal 690 that he thinks he knows why he hasn’t yet made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame after having been on the ballot eight times: Coors Field. He said: “I can’t fault myself. I played for a major league team that happened to be in Denver. If that’s a problem and if that’s going to be an issue for them, then get rid of the team and move it elsewhere if it’s going to be that big of an issue. No needles went in my ass. I played the game clean, but I played in the ballpark and it’s almost like Coors Field is my PED.”

Does Walker have a legitimate argument? And, even if he does have a legitimate argument, in your opinion, is Walker a Hall of Famer?

Should Larry Walker be in the Hall of Fame?

Archie: First Off, Walker also played in St Louis and Montreal and was a great player for both of those teams.

As to the Coors Field comments I feel he is spot on. You can’t fault a player for playing there. And, if the BBWAA does, then they are even BIGGER Hypocrites than I have already accused them of being. He HAS the numbers for the Hall. He should be in the HOF.

Joe: If, that was the only argument for not voting for Walker then I would 100% agree with him about his Coors Field argument. However, if I were a voter I’m not really sure he would be first and foremost in my mind as an automatic choice as a Hall of Famer. 

He did win an MVP once and had three BA titles but other that that he didn’t really dominate the game while he was a player and he hit no career benchmarks… 3,000 hits, 400 (or maybe its 500 now) HRs, etc…

I do admit his ability as a fielder (seven Gold Gloves) does help his case and that fact that his slash numbers… .313/.400/.565 …  compare favorably with other  HOF players doesn’t hurt either. That career .565 Slugging Average is 12th all time.

Larry Walker, arguably the best Canadian hitter ever. He won 3 batting titles: .363 in ’98, .379 in ’99, and .350 in ’01.

Before I made my final decision on his Hall worthiness, I went to baseball.reference.com and compared him to some other HOF members… to my surprise his career is very comparable to among others… Joe DiMaggio, Chuck Klein, Johnny Mize, and newly elected Vladimir Guerrero.

He might not be the first player I would vote for, but considering his career compared to some others I think I would consider him to be a valid choice down the road. So, maybe he should be getting more votes from the BBWAA when it is all said and done.

Steve: I think it is ridiculous to think that you are not in the Hall of Fame because of Coors Field, and if that is in fact why people are not voting for him, that is yet another crying shame for the Hall of Fame.

Absolutely, Larry Walker is a legitimate Hall of Famer. Do they not realize he was also a member of the Montreal Expos, and put up big numbers there? I think it still has to do with the PED era, and while I do not think Walker was involved with that, the voters may think otherwise.

2) Various players (and agents) are complaining about the slow Hot Stove season this year and the lack of free agents being signed by the owners… especially the top ones. To the point that there is some noise and hints that the owners are engaged in collusion and that some players are hinting at pulling a job action during spring training season… a boycott of some of the early spring training games.

Do the players have a legitimate gripe? And, do you think the lack of free agents being signed is due to the owners being involved in collusion?

Darvish, Martinez & Arrieta still unsigned…

Archie: NO THEY DO NOT have a legitimate gripe. Just because Owners “learned” their lesson with quick FA decisions in the past does not involve or constitute collusion. I went and looked at the top FA’s in each of the Position Players categories and quite frankly none of them left on the list jump out at me as to “why is this guy not signed yet”. When you consider their stats and what they are looking for monetarily I think THAT has as much to do with the slow stove as anything. About the only one I could actually scratch my head and think maybe something was wrong is Eric Hosmer. He had a good year last season but you know he is going to ask somewhere in the merit of $15 million a year and probably wants a 4 or 5 year deal. Is he worth It?

Joe: Due to the fact the players were able to prove collusion once before, I would never rule that out this time around or whenever there is a marked down grade to what kind of contracts are being offered to the players.

Having said that… I really don’t think this off-season it is collusion.

Simply, I believe (1) the free agent pool is not all that great this off-season and (2) I also believe the owners are wising up and finally saying to themselves why should I give a gazillion dollar contract for seven years to a player who is already in his plus-30 years age-wise.

Steve: No, and I will repeat myself in the next answer.

The owners simply do not want to get involved with a long term, high money deals. Look at what it can produce. Is Albert Pujols of the Angels worth nearly 30 million dollars? No, he can still produce on the field, but he is nothing like he was before.

I think the players need to start to realize that they are going to be paid what they are worth, especially with next year’s free agent market going to be insane, they need to save some cap room to attempt to sign a guy like Bryce Harper, who may cost a team 400 million dollars.

3) A story at ESPN.com says, “For the more than 100 unsigned Article XX(B) free agents, minor league free agents and December non-tenders still waiting for positive news, an intriguing scenario is making the rounds: Barring an unprecedented surge of agreements this week, could the MLB Players Association help arrange a central clearinghouse for unaffiliated players to gather, bond and simulate the rites and rituals of camp in a sort of shadow spring training?”

Or, in other words a “free agent spring training” camp.

An anonymous person with union ties also said, “If it is something that a group of free-agent players thinks is beneficial to them, the logistics of it are not hard and will be done. If there is a need for that, it will be provided. Period. End of story.”

What is your opinion of such a strategy by the remaining free agents?

The baseball players’ union is scouting sites & making preliminary arrangements to conduct its own spring training for remaining free agents

Archie: It would only work outside the confines of ST conducted by MLB. No intramural games and such. All play would be completely separate.

Now, how would it work for assisting MLB scouts to come and visit? Not sure. Who would fund this effort? Not sure.

Joe: If such a thing were to happen it would most likely be funded by the MLBPA and not MLB, which probably wouldn’t be all that much out of the question for the MLBPA. I’m sure they got the buck to do such a thing.

The question that jumps out at me is that if these players are practicing without a contract who covers them in case they get hurt during these faux-spring training camp sessions? I’m not sure I would take the chance as a player playing in any intra-camp practice games just in case an injury would occur.

CBS.com reports that a  Tim Brown of Yahoo  says that “With 30 camps set to open early next week and an unusual number of players still without contracts … some among the top free agents on the market … the union is investigating sites in Florida and Arizona in case it determines a 31st camp is necessary. The IMG baseball academy in Bradenton, Florida, was believed to be among at least three options. The union also is identifying coaches and other personnel to staff the facility.”

CBS then says: “It might be a bit jarring to see this come to fruition, but it’s actually a good thing. Surely most players will eventually sign before the season begins, and having all the free agents in one camp is a good way to have them getting their reps in similar fashion to how it would be happening in spring training with an actual team. Of course, they won’t be able to play games, but at least they’ll be able to play some intrasquad scrimmages.”

As I have already said If I were a player without a contract and had no insurance to cover any injury from playing in a game… intrasquad or otherwise… I don’t think I would participate in those games. If the union were to set up everything else… the facilities, the access to trainers and coaches… I think that would be a good thing for these free agents.

Steve: Its a neat idea, but I don’t know how that it going to help other than to get these guys in shape for when someone picks them up.

I think ultimately, the players are going to have to budge a little bit and take less than what they are asking. I don’t know all of the details on what some of them want, but I am certain that if they were going to ask for a short term deal, they would have been signed already. Owners and GM’s are going to be cautious to sign a player for a five or six year deal anymore, just because they will be on the books for that long and the production may not be there in that fifth of sixth year and you are essentially throwing money away.

It is a business strategy and I don’t think they will budge from it. 

4) Don’t know if MLBRT has ever covered this exact question before…

In your opinion, which GM is presently the best GM in MLB? Why?

Brian Cashman

Archie: Definitely NOT the Braves.

Year in and Year out it has to be the Yankees GM. Of course, it is easier to work when you have an open checkbook.

Joe: Before the last two seasons I would have said Theo Epstein was it hands down… from what he did with the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs and ending both teams so-called curses and winning championships. Now, at this specific moment… I think Brain Cashman gets the nod for what he has done in reconstructing the Yankees from just being a team rebuilding  to a team that was rebuilt on the fly and looks to be ready to compete in the playoffs for many years ahead into the future.

Maybe its a tie.

Steve: I think it has been for a long time, Brian Cashman. He has to be one of the longest tenured GM’s out there right now, and that says a lot for a team like the New York Yankees.

The team that he has helped build with Judge, Gregorious, and then now adding Stanton to the mix, not only makes the Yankees such a dangerous offensive team, but he may very well of ended the talk about the Yankees being an evil empire. Hell, even I was rooting for them last year.

5) Lately it seems every year there are people complaining about the Hall of Fame procedures for electing players into the Hall… such as there should not be a limit of how many players a voter could vote for on a ballot… and that the procedures need tweaking.

In your opinion do the procedures for election to the Hall need tweaking? Why or why not. And, if they do what would you change?

Baseball Hall of Fame

Archie: First any voter that fails to fill out a complete card with the max of ten players losers their vote.

Second, any voter that fails to even turn in a vote card , loses their vote.

Next, Fans should be able to vote for players considered “elite” like Bonds, Clemens and the top five vote getters are submitted to the legacy committee for consideration and ALL of them NOT voted into the Hall have to be rationalized by the committee as to “WHY” they did not make the HOF. This way the fans can put pressure on the committee to do more than drop a card with ten names on it. This would also force the HOF voters to voice their objections or bias’ to players like Bonds and Clemens and MAKE them state openly, “It is because of PEDs”.

Joe: I do think that the voters shouldn’t be limited to just voting for ten players… I think the voters should be able to put a minimum of 15 players on their ballot if not maybe 20.

I also think there has to be a consensus among the voters about exactly how the hell the entire steroid era is going to be handled. Because right now it is just screwing up the way players who participated in MLB during that era get painted as being guilty by association without any proof.

Which brings me to my next point… get rid of the character clause in the voting rules for voters. You know that part in the rules that says “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.” 

Because it is mostly bullshit anyway… the part about “integrity, sportsmanship, character” …  considering some of the players who blatantly threw spitballs, scuffed baseballs, sharpened spikes, etc… if not for the outright racists, womanizers and boozers that are in the Hall right now.

Steve: I mean if you look at this years voting, then I think the Hall of Fame voters really got it right. I would not dispute anything, with the exception of Bonds and Clemens getting in.

Let’s face it, these two guys deserve, no they need to be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t care if you want to put a separate wing for the PED era, that is fine, but to have a guy with 7 Cy Young Awards, and a guy who is the single season, and the all time Home run king not in the Hall of Fame is a crying shame. I think the voters need to leave the past in the past and move on from this.

So I guess, the only thing I would change is the minds of the voters when it comes to the PED users.

Napoléon “Nap” Lajoie

Extra Innings…

This day in 1901…

Philadelphia Phillies star infielder Napoleon Lajoie jumps to the new American League’s Philadelphia Athletics franchise.

Lajoie will win the Triple Crown, leading the league with a .426 batting average, 14 homers, and 125 RBIs.

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