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Thoughts on A-Rod’s Hall of Fame Candidacy

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Happy New Year, Views Crew.  The lockout is well underway and the hot stove is by extension ice cold, but Hall of Fame discourse soldiers on despite the uncertainty surrounding the sport.

Balloting has officially ended, and results will be announced on January 25 for induction in July 2022.  Of interest to Yankees fans, this year marks Alex Rodriguez’s first year on the ballot after his 2016 retirement. There have certainly been many thousands of words written by dozens of writers on the controversy of his candidacy, but as late in the game as it is I’m going to go on record and say that A-Rod should be a Hall of Famer.  Going into this balloting season, I believed he may have an easier time than his steroid-tainted predecessors in convincing the writers, but as the winter has gone on I’m starting to have doubts.

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Mailbag: Looking to the trade deadline (already), bench construction, favorite game from 2013

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We have a couple of inquiries to address in this week’s mailbag. As always, send any questions you have to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll consider and select our favorites each week. With that, let’s get to what in store this morning:

Daniel asks: Who do you think will be available at the trade deadline?

I think you’re going to see a spillover of some names we heard come up this winter. Kris Bryant and Trevor Story immediately come to mind as the two top players who could be available a few months from now. Hell, if the Bryant/Mets rumors from previous weeks have any validity, he may not even last until July.

The key thing that Bryant and Story have in common is that both are free agents after this season. Both don’t seem particularly likely to stay put on their current teams, either. The Cubs (Yu Darvish) and Rockies (Nolan Arenado) have just traded core players, clearly signaling a rebuild. Plus, Bryant’s relationship with the Cubs is icy and the Rockies never seem to hold on to their top players.

Now, I don’t really expect the Yankees to go for a big rental like Bryant or Story. That’s just not something they’ve done in a long time. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees go after an infielder midseason, but definitely not a top tier guy. Someone like Baltimore’s Freddy Galvis should be available. If not Galvis, likely another upcoming free agent.

It’s more likely that the Yankees go after another pitcher at the deadline. We’d all like to have Luis Castillo in pinstripes, but let’s not get carried away. I really doubt he’ll be available. The Reds have absolutely no good reason to trade him. In combing through pitchers in contract seasons, a few stood out as potentially available come the deadline:

  • Dylan Bundy
  • Zach Davies
  • Kevin Gausman
  • James Paxton

Bundy has fascinated me as a target since last summer, and I’m including him again. The Angels aren’t actually going to contend, right? Right. The Cubs just picked up Davies in the Darvish trade and there’s no reason to think they’re keeping Davies if they aren’t in the hunt. Then there’s Gausman, who the Yankees have had interest in before. Finally, why not a reunion with Paxton midseason? What if he’s back to throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s? The Mariners aren’t going anywhere. We know Paxton can pitch in New York. As strange as that would be, it could work.

News & Notes: Red Sox Discipline, Minor League Contraction, & Some Old Friends

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Red Sox Sign Stealing Penalties

Rob Manfred handed down discipline related to the league’s investigation into the Red Sox organization’s behavior during the 2018 season. The commissioner placed the onus on the team’s replay system operator, JT Watkins. That said, some players clearly had to be involved for the scheme to work. Manfred also noted that the team’s transgressions were not at the level of what the Astros did previously. Essentially, Watkins decoded the signals for the players to use when they were on second base and could share the information with the hitter.

As a result, these are the penalties:

  • Watkins has been suspended for all of 2020, including the postseason. He cannot serve in that position in 2021, though he can return in another capacity.
  • The Red Sox must forfeit their 2nd round draft pick this year.
  • Alex Cora is suspended for 2020, but not for his conduct as Red Sox manager. Rather, for his conduct while Houston’s bench coach in 2017.

State of the Minor League structure

According to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, the MiLB is prepared to concede 40 affiliates in a new Professional Baseball Agreement with the MLB. There was quite a bit of public pushback when we first heard this rumored months ago, but to hear that MiLB is willing to accept this is a bit of a shock. For what it’s worth MiLB released a statement countering Cooper’s report.

There’s been some concern about the future of the Staten Island Yankees with regard to the new PBA. Pinstriped Prospects’ Robert Pimpsner wrote about what this means for the Yankees’ short-season A-ball affiliate.

A-Rod and J-Lo to bid for the Mets?

My first reaction to the Variety report: this would be so weird. I know A-Rod grew up a Mets fan, but it’s just weird to envision him becoming the face of the club after being with the Yankees for so long. And J-Lo is from the Bronx, of course. But hey, money talks if they can accumulate enough of it. The power couple needs to raise a good deal of money in order to purchase the Mets from the Wilpon family. They’ve enlisted the help of JPMorgan Chase to do so.

The Mets were nearly sold to Steve Cohen just months ago before negotiations fell apart near the finish line. Nothing ever comes easy with the Wilpons, so one would have to imagine things won’t be much different this time around.

In any case, should this actually come to fruition, we could have A-Rod vs. Derek Jeter in the same division!

Checking in on an old friend

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com caught up with ex-Yankee Tyler Austin, who signed with the DeNA BayStars of Yokohama for the 2020 season. Gotta be honest, I totally missed that Austin was headed to the NPB this year. I knew he had bounced around with a few MLB clubs after the Yankees dealt him to Minnesota and figured he was still around. Anyway, playing in Japan would be a nice opportunity for Austin to re-establish himself. Unfortunately, like for everyone else, the coronavirus has gotten in the way.

Checking in on another old friend

The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler caught up with Aaron Small of 2005 Yankees’ fame. The journeyman righty provided that 2005 club a shot in the arm when he pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 15 games (9 starts) and went 10-0. Then 33 years-old, it was the only real success Small had at the big league level. But wow, was it an incredible run and story at the time.

My Top Three Part 1: Regular Season Games

In this time of quarantine, one of the things we’ve used to distract ourselves is that “you can only pick three” game going around on various social media sites. It’s a silly time waster and ultimately meaningless as none of us will ever have to “pick three” of our favorite forms of entertainment or whatever, but here’s one set of my top three, with others to follow: regular season games.

First up on the list, at least chronologically speaking, is September, 18, 1995. This random September game against the Blue Jays was the first Yankee game I ever attended. There is very little I remember from it, frankly, aside from about where our seats were–lower level, third base line–that I took the above picture with my dad, that there was some guy next to us yelling about how long and dull the game was (he wasn’t wrong, apparently, as there was no scoring till late) and that Willie Randolph, the third base coach at the time, should be the next Yankee manager.

In terms of on the field performance, I don’t remember David Cone pitching as well as he did. All that I remember is Don Mattingly hitting a ball that almost got out over the wall in right field but didn’t and he got thrown out at second because he had kinda started trotting already.

Regardless of what I do and don’t remember, I was a budding baseball fan at the time and my love for the game only increased from then on.

A side note: is it coincidence that the ‘314’ sign is very visible in this picture? Absolutely. But is it more fun to pretend it was a sign of things to come? Absolutely.

Next, again chronologically speaking, we move to August 4, 2007. This game stands out despite it being one of the few I left early. Why did I leave early? Because it was about 950 degrees in the upper deck that day and by the 7th, my friend and I were fried. But why does the game stand out? Because in the first inning, Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th career home run.

He had been stuck on the 499 mark for a while and even though we all knew it would come, I didn’t think it would during the game I attended. When the ball went into the air, my friend and I were both up on our feet, jumping, screaming in unison, “GO! GO! GO! GO!” We waved our arms frantically towards the left field fence, went still and silent for a second as the ball passed over the wall, then screamed again, jumping and hugging as it landed in the seats.

To this day, it’s the only milestone game I’ve been to and probably the only one I’ll ever go to (statistically speaking); luckily, it was a milestone for one of my favorite players ever. That I got to share it with a good friend, someone whom I’ve known since 10th grade and ended up in my wedding party, made it all the better.

Last, but not least, we have a record-setting game: August 25, 2011. In this game, the Yankees hit three grand slams, one each by Robinson Cano, Russell Martin, and Curtis Granderson. Though they won 22-8, they were, at one point, down 7-1 because, and I’m quoting my own recap here “Phil Hughes couldn’t get out of the third and Cory Wade gave up a two run homer.”

I remember driving home from work, turning the radio off because I was so frustrated by the game. As soon as I got home, though, things changed. The final grand slam, the one by Curtis Granderson, came as I was clearing the dinner table and I remember laughing in the kitchen, amused by the absurdity of the situation–another grand slam.

There might be other games I’m note recalling here, but these were the first three that came to mind when thinking of a ‘pick three’ scenario. What are your ‘pick three’ regular season games? Leave them in the comments and let’s Remember Some Games.

Which Yankees will follow Derek Jeter to Cooperstown?

Sabathia. (Arturo Pardavilla III – CC BY 2.0)

Official announcement of Derek Jeter’s induction to the Hall of Fame will occur later today. It’ll be the second straight year featuring a Yankee, with Mariano Rivera entering Cooperstown last summer. But after these two prominent Yankees, who’s next?

Returning to the ballot for 2021

There are a number of ex-Yankees already on the ballot that will return for the next round of voting. Some are more notable than others.

On numbers alone, Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall. The Rocket spent six of his 24 seasons with the Yankees, though his best seasons were elsewhere. But more important than performance, his case is marred by allegations of statutory rape of a minor and PED usage.

Andy Pettitte will return to the ballot for a third time, but will likely fall short again. He received a respectable 9.9 percent of the votes last year; we’ll see how that shifts this season. Pettitte was a great Yankee, but falls short of Hall-worthiness statistically speaking. His link to PEDs won’t help his case anyway.

Gary Sheffield spent three seasons in pinstripes but absolutely raked while doing so (135 OPS+). He hasn’t received any higher than 13.6 percent of the vote and next year will be his seventh try. Again, PED allegations hinder his electability in spite of 509 career homer runs.

As long as they get 5 percent of the vote, Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu will return to the ballot for a second time next year. Giambi won’t make it, but he was fun to watch hit in the Bronx from 2002 through 2008. Similarly, Abreu is going to fall short.

Ballot newcomers

Here are some notable names coming to the ballot in future years:

YearPlayers
2021AJ Burnett, Nick Swisher
2022Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
2023Carlos Beltrán

This is a pretty interesting group upcoming. Burnett, Swisher, and Teixeira all fall short by the numbers, though of that trio, Teix seemed to be on the track at one point. The switch-hitting first baseman really fell off after 2011, his age-31 season. Through that point, he had 314 homers, a 132 OPS+, and 44.1 bWAR. But he only rebounded for one more big season — 2015 — before he retired after his age-36 season a year later. Teixeira finished with 409 homers and just under 52 WAR. A very good career, no doubt, but he just didn’t have the longevity.

Things get much more intriguing when you consider A-Rod and Beltrán. The former’s lifetime numbers are historically great: he swatted 696 homers, recorded 3,115 hits, and accumulated 117.8 WAR. However, and this is a big one: he served a season-long PED suspension in 2014. And that wasn’t the first time he used PEDs, either. In 2009, he admitted to using back when he was with the Rangers. So, even though the numbers would make him a slam dunk, the drug usage almost assuredly will keep him out of Cooperstown.

Then there’s Beltrán. Before the recent news that has dominated the baseball world, I figured Beltrán would enter the Hall eventually. He’s got the sabermetric case with just under 70 WAR, though I’m not certain people thought of him as a shoe-in. Anyway, the decision to elect him may not be so difficult after all. His transgressions in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal will undoubtedly adversely affect his candidacy. He was explicitly called out in the Commissioner’s report which will do quite a bit of damage.

The next inductee: CC Sabathia

Bobby already wrote about why Sabathia belongs in Cooperstown, so no need to rehash here. We just have to play the waiting game now. Sabathia will be eligible in five years and hopefully will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. After Jeter, he’s clearly the next individual in line to don a Yankees cap in the Hall of Fame.

Down the road

Looking forward to being 50 years-old in 2040 when Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gerrit Cole (among others) go into the Hall as Yankees, you guys. Anyway, for fun, allow me to power rank the top five current Yankees most likely to get a plaque:

  1. Gleyber Torres
  2. Giancarlo Stanton
  3. Gerrit Cole
  4. Aaron Judge
  5. Aroldis Chapman

Time for some rapid-fire thoughts on this. I feel like picking Gleyber is bold given some of the accomplishments others on this list have, but I’ll do it no less. Stanton already has 309 homers and is just 31 years-old. Cole has a chance to cement himself as the best pitcher of his generation. Judge has Hall of Fame talent but will need a strong late career considering he didn’t start until he was 25 and has missed time because of injuries. Lastly, Chapman could end his career with the highest strikeout rate of all-time and very high up on the all-time saves list. That said, his domestic violence suspension should give voters pause.

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