Trevor Hoffman got 74 percent of the vote for the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, which put him one percentage point—or five measly votes—away from getting the Cooperstown call.
Even though I wrote that I wouldn’t have voted for Hoffman if I had a ballot of my own, I can certainly understand the argument that he’s a Hall-of-Fame level player, and I can further understand the disappointment for a city of sports fans looking for something to cling to.
Hoffman didn’t get in because he came up five votes short, obviously, and also because he’s something of a borderline candidate (also potentially because of a Boston bias). Nobody really knows how to handle relievers, and Hoffman—much as it pains me to admit—isn’t close to the Mariano Rivera level of relief pitcher dominance. Nobody is, really. So he hovers on the Hall periphery, gaining more support from the old-school voters than from the younger ones, more support from the west coast than from the east coast.
Today’s the day. The National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will be announced at 3pm PST today. Who will get in? Who will be snubbed?
I’m not a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). I know, big shocker there. But I am a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBBA). And, like the BBWAA, the BBBA votes for the Hall of Fame every year, using the same rules and the same ballot. Does it mean anything? Not in the least. But it’s fun.
Like a lot of BBWAA members, I believe in making your Hall of Fame vote — official or not — public for all the world to see and yell at you for.
Here’s how I voted.
According to multiple reports the Chargers will announce today they are bolting (sorry) for Los Angeles. Dean Spanos will meet with his staff shortly, ostensibly to inform them of this decision.
It’s probably too late to start a petition to keep the team name and colors here (al la what Cleveland did when the first Browns left). I’d absolutely support that initiative, by the way.
Dean Spanos leaving town will have a profound impact on the Padres. I wonder how they will react today. I hope they have thought it through and have an actionable plan in place. They’ve had two years to prepare. Their world is different starting at 8am this morning.
The Padres have been the second banana in San Diego for as long as Major League Baseball has been played here. Even during their brief forays into baseball respectability, and the occasional playoff appearance, the Chargers dominated the narrative. Now, I know using local sports talk-radio as a barometer isn’t the best idea, but for the last two years those who listen have been treated to incessant conversations about the stadium issue, new developments, theories, recriminations, speculation, and so on. It didn’t matter how well or poorly the Padres were playing, or what stupid thing the Padres did, San Diego Charger stadium discussions dominated. Only when a story became national news (like the medical file flapex) did some lip service get paid to the Padres and what they were doing; it was then rapidly swamped by more stadium discussion.
The Padres had the perfect cover. Now that cover is gone.
Although the Chargers are moving barely 150 miles up the road I can’t imagine news about that football team will continue to be the top story for the local media. All eyes should shift to the one Major-League franchise left. The Gulls will get some additional coverage, sure, but hockey is a niche sport (which is too bad, because it’s awesome). The Padres have sucked for the past six years and only the diehard fans really complained and discussed it. Now the casual sports fan will be paying more attention because there’s really nothing else to talk about.
Get ready, Padres. You’re front and center on the San Diego Sports Stage. If we ever needed our baseball team to both play well and have a realistic chance for a playoff appearance, it’s right now.
Tom Verducci, respected baseball writer and talking head, wrote an article earlier this week about why he won’t vote for any known steroid users for the Hall of Fame. That’s a fine premise, really, and even though I clearly disagree, I can’t rail against the mind-set too vigorously. It’s fair, I guess.
What I can rail against are the specifics of Verducci’s article because, you know, I have both the time and awareness for nuance. Without going full FJM-style, here are a few things to chew on:
At one point, Verducci compares Fred McGriff to Barry Bonds, wondering what would have happened if McGriff went to BALCO and Bonds did not, going so far as to jerry-rig a virtual final stat line for each player. Okay, fine. The kicker is that Bonds would have still out-homered the Crime Dog, 599 to 564, and that’s without mentioning the obvious: that Bonds was a world-class outfielder and base runner and that McGriff, despite his full endorsement of Tom Emanski’s fielding videos, was a sub-par defensive first baseman with 72 career stolen bases.
The Padres don’t need to sign any more free agents. The goal, clearly, isn’t to win in 2017, and the team, as currently constructed, will probably be lucky to sniff 70 wins. Still, undervalued free agents can come in handy for a couple of reasons: 1) the Padres have to finish a 162-game season, and they may need more cavalry just to get there (especially on the pitching side), and 2) free agent rehabilitation projects can turn into valuable trade chips by late July.
It’s hard to oversell just how important the Drew Pomeranz acquisition was. Though not actually a free agent pick-up, Pomeranz was nabbed for close to nothing (Yonder Alonso) and, just a few months later, exchanged for one of the Padres most intriguing prospects, right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza. Fernando Rodney, an actual free agent signing, was turned into Chris Paddack last June, another interesting (if now injured) pitcher. Are there any free agents left who could be Pomeranz-ed or Rodney-ed into something useful by mid-summer?
First, let’s run down MLB Trade Rumors top remaining FAs, published on Christmas day:
Believe it or not, I don’t have an actual Hall of Fame vote. But if I did, here’s what mine would look like.
On the Ballot
Barry Bonds—In 2004, Bonds’ worst month was May, where he hit .250/.532/.542. He had 29 walks and four strikeouts in 77 plate appearances . . . in his worst month of the season. At one point in 2002, Bonds—the game’s preeminent power hitter—went 20 straight games without striking out, racking up nine home runs, 24 walks, and a 1.622 OPS over the stretch. Warts and all, you can’t have a respectable Hall of Fame without Bonds.
Bonus points for:
- Posting a .480 on-base percentage in his final season, at age 42.
- Going 30-for-33 on steal attempts over the last six years of his career.
Roger Clemens—Clemens won at least one Cy Young award on four different teams (he won seven total), spanning three decades. And he should have won more. In 1990, he lost out to Bob Welch, despite racking up over seven bWAR more than Welch (Welch went 27-6 vs. Clemens’ 21-6); that’s like a full Max Scherzer of separation. He also could have/should have won in 1988 (finished 6th), 1992 (3rd), 1996 (no votes), and 2005 (3rd). Sure, there’s a big ol’ elephant in the room here, but like with Bonds, Clemens was too good to keep out.
It’s everybody’s favorite time of year – Hall of Fame voting season! Every year, we gnash our teeth and argue in circles over mostly stupid things. The most recent trend seems to center on excluding players who played during the “Steroid Era” (but not those who we perceive as being clean, because you can just tell…you know?), which completely avoids context and usually devolves into general shouting at clouds. And then there’s Curt Schilling, who deserves to be in, but is an all-around awful/racist/xenophobic human being…which was probably enough to keep him out (for now), but several writers have finally decided he was bad because he posted a picture a shirt implying journalists should be hanged. Which is awful, but that was the tipping point? Anyway, enough garbage – we’re here to talk about Trevor Hoffman’s candidacy.
Padres sign LHP Clayton Richard to a one-year, $1.75 million deal (plus incentives).
Richard was on the last good Padres team, way back in 2010, three or four regime changes ago. He was in that year—and in his other “good” seasons—very much a not-quite-league-average innings-eater. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, really. Throw together enough Richards and Jon Garlands and Wade LeBlancs and, somehow, you end up with 90 wins.
Richard left San Diego in 2013, spent 2014 in the minors and/or hurt, and resurfaced in 2015 with the Cubs, this time as a (league-averageish) reliever. After a disastrous start to 2016, the Cubs cut ties with the lefty, and the Padres brought him back. In 13 games in San Diego, primarily as a starter, the 32-year-old defied the odds. He posted a 2.52 ERA while balancing on a tight rope and juggling three mint condition Chris Denorfia bobbleheads. In other words, he struck out 34 and walked 24 in 53 2/3s innings, which isn’t supposed to work out to anything close to a sub-3 ERA.
Padres sign Jhoulys Chacin to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
Chacin, once upon a time, pitched to a 120 ERA+ for six years in Colorado, which qualifies as the third-greatest human feat of the decade. That stretch ended in 2014, though, and it ended poorly—Chacin’s final year with the Rockies saw him post a 5.40 ERA in 63 1/3 innings before succumbing to season-ending shoulder rehab. Since then he’s bounced around, to Cleveland, then to Arizona, then to Atlanta, then to Los Angeles. Last year, split between the Braves and Angels, he threw 144 innings with a 4.81 ERA, mostly as a starter. The surface-level numbers don’t look great, but Chacin’s 2.16 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the second-best of his career, and his 3.94 DRA ranked right between Sonny Gray and Vincent Velasquez (and ahead of Jake Arrieta).
Dig deeper, and there’s more good news. Chacin’s fastball averaged 92.95 mph last September, its highest mark since April 2010. In 2014 and 2015, when Chacin was battling the shoulder issues, his fastball velo dropped to 89 and change. So the improved heater works as a positive sign for two reasons: 1) that he’s healthier and 2) that he’s more effective at getting batters out.
It’s doesn’t make much sense to talk about the 2018-2019 free agent class for a lot of reasons, perhaps most obviously because it’s a long time away. But we’ll do it anyway.
When the Padres went for it a few years back, it was exciting. Even though there were some questionable deals, it was still exciting. Looking back, though, with the knowledge we have now, it was maybe a little less exciting. Matt Kemp was getting older and, in many ways, in severe decline. Justin Upton was only brought on for one year. Wil Myers didn’t have a clear position to play. Derek Norris was just, kind of, a guy. Will Middlebrooks. Never did understand why Will Middlebrooks was always mentioned as one of the big acquisitions of that offseason, but it feels right to mention him here. James Shields was surprisingly available for relatively cheap, and for good reasons. Craig Kimbrel was still good—great, even—but he wasn’t Craig Kimbrel.
The Padres were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, essentially, and instead . . . well, maybe they did catch lighting in a bottle. That doesn’t sound too pleasant, really. Either way, things didn’t work out. Just looking back at that offseason retrospectively—and we kind of knew this in real-time, too—we can say that the Padres tried to half-ass their way into a contending team. Sure, they bumped the payroll up over $100 million and added some legitimate talent, but they also moved prematurely, without a winning cast of players surrounding the high-priced newcomers.