When Derek Jeter homered for his 3,000th career hit, the moment was magical. When Alex Rodriguez did the same on Friday night, the moment was controversial. The fans cheered, they acknowledged the historic moment, but there was a lingering feeling that things just weren’t the same.
Although Rodriguez has played in 63 games since returning from a season long performance enhancing drug suspension in 2014, the air around A-Rod is still rather bad. The majority of baseball fans have vowed to never get over his PED use and don’t see the milestone as much to celebrate. While I agree to an extent, A-Rod’s 3,000th hit is still something to stop and think about for a moment.
After all, only 28 other players in the history of Major League Baseball have ever recorded 3,000 or more hits in their careers — 28 out of over 18,000 players. In addition, Mike Schmidt and Derek Jeter are the only other players to record their 3,000th hits on a home run. So the hit by A-Rod shouldn’t be completely overlooked.
But at the same time, the moment won’t ever be seen in the same light as it should have been if A-Rod had remained clean. Rodriguez is creeping up towards 700 home runs, and is one of only five players to record 3,000+ hits and 500+ homers, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro. He’s one of the all-time greats. Rodriguez should be getting celebrations around baseball, but instead he’s getting booed by many of the fans everywhere he goes.
And rightfully so. I don’t agree that a player who recorded 3,000 hits clean and one who used PED’s throughout their career should be looked at in the same light, even if it is a remarkably rare achievement. But, thankfully, it shouldn’t be too long before we get the chance to wholeheartedly celebrate a player reaching 3,000 career hits: Ichiro Suzuki, who is just 114 hits away.
If my memory serves me correctly, it’s been over a year since I last wrote a blog post focused on Alex Rodriguez. I’ve discussed him a bit in portions of posts over the past few months about the Yankees and their surrounding team, but nothing just about him. That was mainly because he was out of the baseball picture for that period of time, serving a 162-game suspension for further use of performance enhancing drugs, but quite simply, I didn’t care to discuss Rodriguez at all anyway.
That, however, has changed.
With a letter released on Tuesday, A-Rod once again shook up the baseball world. Although it was meant to be a positive thing, not a lot of people are taking it that way. The handwritten letter itself read as follows:
To the Fans,
I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season. I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I’m sorry.
I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that’s on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology, but I decided that next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job.
I served the longest suspension in the history of the league for PED use. The Commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball.
I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.
This game has been my single biggest passion since I was a teenager. When I go to Spring Training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win.
The first thing that jumps out at me from the letter is A-Rod’s acceptance that baseball fans will likely never forgive him. That’s important, in my opinion, because he understands that he doesn’t need to put on a show to win back the fans — there’s no point. In his own words, he just needs to “play some ball”.
However, with that said, I would like to see A-Rod do a little something to give back to the fans; not with the hopes of winning them back, but just because it’s the right thing to do after all Rodriguez has done. Take pictures with the fans; sign autographs for those who still want it. Rodriguez needs to do something to show that he actually cares and that the letter wasn’t just a formality, even knowing it won’t do a lot of good. He owes the fans that much.
But one little apology letter and a lot of fan friendliness won’t matter much if A-Rod isn’t producing for the team at the plate. In the end, now that they’re stuck with him, the Yankees and their fans have to root for Rodriguez to put up good numbers. Not so he can further add to his tainted career stats, but so he can help the Yankees regain a competitive ball club. In my mind, they need some sort of impact from A-Rod for the Yankees to stand a chance at a playoff push.
Without Derek Jeter on the team, like it or not, Rodriguez has become the face of the team. Maybe not the most popular player, but the most well known player on the club. The Yankees are looking to him to help carry a good chunk of the team, even if it does mean that six home runs this season would earn him a 6 million dollar bonus — on top of the huge amount still remaining on his contract — for tying Willie Mays’ career mark of 660 home runs (Rodriguez would also earn $6 million each for tying Babe Ruth (714), tying Hank Aaron (755), tying Barry Bonds (762) and surpassing Bonds down the line).
Even so, I’m not expecting him to do much. Rodriguez is now 39 years old. He hit just .244 in 2013 over the course of 44 games leading up to his season long suspension in 2014, and has been going downhill since 2010 — the last year he hit 30+ home runs and/or 100+ RBI’s. A-Rod hasn’t hit .300 since 2008, and he seemingly won’t do hardly anything in 2015.
Supposedly, though, Alex Rodriguez has been working out and is in the best baseball shape he’s been in for years. Supposedly, he is sorry for his actions (or at least as sorry as he can bring himself to be). But then again, he was supposedly done for good with performance enhancing drugs back when he came clean in 2009.
The 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is loaded with stars. (There are 36 players in all, with 19 of them being first ballot players.) Whether the player has been on the ballot for numerous years or is a newcomer, there are far too many players for me to give my take on them all. Therefore, I’m only going to be discussing the players I’d vote for if I had a vote, and provide my reasoning for each.
The first player on my ballot would have to be Greg Maddux. Maddux, who will go down in history as one of the best pitchers the game of baseball has ever seen, racked up a total of 355 wins over the course of his 23-year career. As if that wasn’t enough to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Maddux also put together a stat line of 3,371 strikeouts, to go along with an ERA of 3.16, and 4 straight Cy Young winning seasons. In addition, Maddux holds the record for most Gold Glove awards with 18, and should be one of the highest vote getters in Hall of Fame voting history.
The second vote on my ballot goes to Frank Thomas. Thomas put together an incredible career, and would be an automatic pick for the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for the steroid era in which he played. But despite that, I feel Thomas will get in as a first ballot player, and rightfully so, seeing that he was never directly connected to PED’s. Blasting 521 home runs in his 19-year career, totaling 1,704 RBI’s, “The Big Hurt” has some of the best stats seen on the ballot in years (with the exception of Barry Bonds). With a .301 batting average to go along with his amazing numbers, and two career MVP’s, Thomas should receive the second most votes from the 2014 ballot, after Greg Maddux.
The next player I have is Tom Glavine. Glavine, as with Greg Maddux, is one of only 24 pitchers to have put together 300 or more career wins (305), done in his 22 seasons in the major leagues. Anytime a pitcher accomplishes this great feat, it’s almost a no brainer that they’re a Hall of Fame player, as a 300 game winner is nearly unheard of nowadays. Glavine also has two Cy Young awards and 2,607 strikeouts to go along with his other impressive numbers, and that, in my mind, should earn him a spot in Cooperstown.
The fourth player on my ballot is Mike Piazza. Piazza doesn’t have the most impressive numbers of the players on this year’s ballot, however, the stats that he put together over his career, although not good enough for a first ballot vote, are good enough for the Hall of Fame, in this his second year on the ballot. In my mind, despite barely surpassing the 2,000 hit mark and sitting 90th all time in terms of RBI’s, Piazza put together one of the best ever careers for a catcher. He is fourth on the list of catchers in baseball history for most RBI’s and leads all catchers in home runs. When you combine it all together, it makes Piazza a Hall of Fame player.
The final player I would vote for from this year’s ballot is Craig Biggio. Biggio was the top vote getter of the players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 68.2 percent of the vote, which saw no players getting the necessary 75 percent to be elected. Biggio should get in this time around — many believe he should’ve been a first ballot Hall of Famer — as his 3,060 career hits put him on a list with just 27 other players who have compiled 3,000 or more hits. Biggio’s 291 career homers and 1,175 RBI’s are low for a Hall of Fame player, however, there is a very good case for making an exception for Biggio making it into the Hall.
Unfortunately, with all of the great players this year, I decided to leave off a few of the really good players from my ballot, including Jack Morris (who is in his last year of eligibility), Tim Raines, Don Mattingly, etc., even though I could’ve easily included them. I just didn’t think they were good enough to make the cut this year. In addition, I’ve excluded Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Rogers Clemens, among others traced to PED’s, not based solely on their PED use, but merely because I don’t feel they should get in this time around. Not yet. Maybe not even at all. I haven’t fully decided how I feel.
Though you may disagree with some of the players I feel are Hall of Fame worthy and with some of the players I left off my ballot, it’s just the way I feel and how I see things. Now, I want to hear from you. Of the players on the 2014 ballot, who do you want to see get elected along side of Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa in July? Cast your vote below for the number of players from the 2014 ballot that you would vote into the Hall of Fame, and feel free to leave your thoughts below.
The 2013 Major League Baseball season ended nearly a month ago, but the team changing deals that take place every offseason are just now beginning. The biggest trade that has taken place so far is undoubtedly Prince Fielder going to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler, however, the Cardinals getting rid of David Freese in a trade for Peter Bourjos is up there on the list as well.
As far as free agent signings go — none of the previously named players were free agents — Brian McCann signing to play with the Yankees was a big time deal, with Jhonny Peralta’s agreement to play with the Cardinals (4 years, 53 million dollar) being the deal that has caused the most controversy, due to past his PED use. But I won’t get into that.
Not too many of the 184 free agent players have signed yet — just 27 are off the market, having signed with a team or retired — but there’s still plenty of time left for a lot of exciting deals to go down. (The trades that could be made are nearly impossible to predict, but every free agent has to find a home somewhere — either with their same team or a new one — so that’s what I’ll be talking about.)
Notable current free agents include Carlos Beltran, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, among others, but I’m only going to be discussing the top ranked (in my mind) player available at each position, and which team I feel they’d fit the best with.
Keep in mind, these are the teams I feel would be the best fit for each player, not necessarily a team that’s interested in them, or subsequently will sign them.
2013 MLB TOP FREE AGENTS
Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Team I feel should sign him: Rangers
The Rangers were in the conversation for Brian McCann to take over their catcher role, but after the Yankees locked him up, I think Saltalamacchia would be the next best thing — a good fit for both the Rangers and Saltalamacchia. Having played for the Rangers from 2007 to 2010, Saltalamacchia would be returning to familiar territory. Though he never had much success in Arlington — never playing in more than 84 games in a season — Saltalamacchia proved this past season with the Sox that he can post good numbers, batting .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s. I think the Rangers would be a great team for Saltalamacchia, but he’ll likely remain in Boston.
Designated Hitter: Kendrys Morales
Team I feel should sign him: Tigers
Kendrys Morales had a great season for the Mariners in 2013, batting .277 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Being a switch hitter — a very consistent one at that — I feel the Tigers would be a good fit for Morales. The Tigers have a right-handed-heavy lineup, and a good hitter who can hit from the left side — there are talks they could also be interested in Shin-Soo Choo — when needed would be an important addition. Also, Morales could go a long way in replacing Prince Fielder’s bat in the lineup, though admittedly it wouldn’t replace his 30+ home run power. Nonetheless, Morales is a player the Tigers need to target, in my opinion.
First Base: Mike Napoli
Team I feel should sign him: Red Sox
A lot of teams would be interested in Mike Napoli, but I feel the Red Sox should resign him, as he is a great fit where he is. Playing first base, there are really no other fantastic first basemen on the market, and they’re not about to put David Ortiz there full time. Napoli’s 23 home runs and 92 RBI’s this past season is something that’s hard to replace. He was a big reason the Red Sox were so successful this season, helping to lead them to a World Series title. Napoli shouldn’t be going anywhere.
Second Base: Robinson Cano
Team I feel should sign him: Anyone but the Yankees
Because Robinson Cano is such a good player — a great fit for multiple teams — it’s hard to pick just one team that he should sign with. The top ranked free agent of the offseason, I feel Cano doesn’t need to be in pinstripes next season for both his sake and the sake of the Yankees. Not signing Cano to a deal worth, more than likely, nearly 200 million dollars, would allow them to use that extra cash to sign some lower-priced free agents and develop an all-around better team. With or without Cano, there’s no guarantee the Yankees will make the playoffs, but I feel they’re better off in the long run without him.
Third Base: Juan Uribe
Team I feel should sign him: Yankees
Tying into one of the reasons I feel the Yankees shouldn’t resign Cano, Juan Uribe is a player who would come at a relatively affordable price to the Yankees and would be a good fit at third base, where they are very weak. With no guarantees that A-Rod will ever return, signing Uribe would give them a better defensive player at third than what they currently have, and it would add a decent offensive player to their lineup. Uribe’s .278 batting average with 12 homers and 50 RBI’s last season wouldn’t be a team-changing move for the Yankees, but it would certainly improve their situation.
Shortstop: Stephen Drew
Team I feel should sign him: Astros
The only thing that is for sure with Stephen Drew is that he has a near 100 percent chance of not being with the Red Sox next season; other than that, not a lot is certain. Drew was an impact player for the Sox this past season, playing a good defense at shortstop and coming up big in big spots, especially in the postseason, but with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third base, there just isn’t room for Drew. The Yankees could use him down the road at short, but assuming Derek Jeter is healthy, there won’t be a spot for Drew next season, other than Jeter’s backup. For Drew’s sake, I feel he’d be a good fit with the Astros, who could use an everyday shortstop — one of their many weak spots.
Left Field: Quintin Berry
Team I feel should sign him: Diamondback’s
There really aren’t a lot of great left field free agents available, but of them, Quintin Berry is the best. The Diamondback’s have a left fielder, in Adam Eaton, but I feel the acquisition of Berry would be worth it, as they could move some players around to make room for him. Berry hasn’t had a great deal of opportunity to show off any consistency at the big league level, but his speed — he’s never been caught stealing in 24 major league stolen base attempts — alone is enough for the D-back’s to take a shot on Berry, in my mind.
Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury & Shin-Soo Choo
Team I feel should sign them: Mariners (Ellsbury) and Reds (Choo)
I couldn’t pick just one player as the best available free agent at this position, as both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo have a high value in their own unique ways. Ellsbury hasn’t been able to stay very healthy so far during his career, but an unhealthy Ellsbury is more valuable than a lot of other players in baseball — he’s that great of an impact when healthy. Though Seattle has a difficult time attracting players, due to their location and recent subpar performances, I feel they are going to become a great team in the next year or two. Ellsbury needs to join before things take off. As far as Choo goes, he is very efficient at getting on base, with a .421 OBP this past season. The Reds need to keep him, in my opinion, as their leadoff man, if they want to be as successful next season as they were in 2013.
Right Field: Carlos Beltran
Team I feel should sign him: Yankees
If the Yankees decide not to keep Cano, as I believe they should do, they will likely make a run at Carlos Beltran, who they are reportedly interested in. A left handed hitter, Beltran would thrive at Yankee stadium and would be a big impact for the Yankees in 2014 and beyond. At 36 years old, Beltran isn’t a player you would want to lock up for any extended period of time, however, any time with Beltran on your team is worth it. Batting .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI’s last season, Beltran could have a great season should the Yankees sign him.
Starting Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez
Team I feel should sign him: Twins
A lot of teams need pitching, including the Blue Jays, Rockies, etc., but the Twins are a team I feel could use a guy like Ubaldo Jimenez the most. The Twins are an interesting team, as they don’t have a lot going for them now, but their farm system is one of the best in baseball and they will be a really good team down the road, similar with the Mariners. Should Jimenez sign with them, I could see him developing into the great pitcher he’s capable of being. He’s shown signs of it in the past, and next year could be a break out year for him. Jimenez could really help out the Twins in a big way.
Relief Pitcher: Brian Wilson
Team I feel should sign him: Tigers
While Joe Nathan and Fernando Rodney would be good fits for the Tigers, I feel Brian Wilson would be the best. Wilson has had a lot of ups and downs in his career, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball — something the Tigers could use. Having undergone two Tommy John surgeries, many teams shy away from Wilson. But after the performance he had towards the end of last season, I feel Wilson could be the piece the Tigers need to clinch them a World Series title after coming up short recently.
So, there are my thoughts on which players are the best remaining free agents at each postion, and which team should sign them. Odds are that things won’t go exactly, if at all, how I feel they should, but this is just the way I see it working out best.
Besides Robinson Cano, who do you feel is the best remaining free agent? Cast your vote:
As always, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.
Before I begin, let me first point out that of the 37 players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, I’m only going to be discussing my thoughts on six of them: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa; with whether or not I believe they belong among the games’ all time greats in the Hall of Fame. Statistically, they’re all worthy of the Hall, however, because of their connection to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s), proven or suspected, it makes it one of the most difficult and controversial H.O.F. votes in years.
Having retired from Major League Baseball way back at the conclusion of the 2007 season, I’ve had a fairly long time to think about whether or not these select first year ballot players are worthy of a plaque in the Hall of Fame. But five years doesn’t seem long enough, as it’s now time to make a decision, and, even with hour after hour of debate, it’s still difficult to decide one way or another.
To make it as clear as I possibly can, of how I went about deciding whether or not I believe the six previously listed players are HOF’ers, I’ve decided to give a general overview of the pros and cons I see to the three different options you have when going about this year’s Hall of Fame vote:
OPTION 1: LEAVE ALL OF THEM OUT
This seems absurd to me, but it’s an option nonetheless, so I had to include it. The only good thing about this is that by choosing to keep all six out of the Hall of Fame you ensure that no player that used PED’s gets inducted in. Since we aren’t 100 percent sure whether or not the suspected users did or didn’t use drugs, this is the safe route to take. However, it’s also the wrong route, in my opinion. Leaving out every single one of these players could possibly be keeping out a player who never allowed any drugs into their system whatsoever. While we aren’t sure if there even are any, it’s truly not fair to punish those who could have very well never broken the rules, just because you feel they might have. So, while this is in fact an option, it’s just not right to keep out so many great players.
OPTION 2: LET A PORTION OF THEM IN
Although a little more practical than option one, I still don’t feel this is what needs to be done. Sure, by keeping out the players who were connected to drug use while allowing in those who were merely suspected, you make it fair for the players who might’ve never done anything wrong. However, you could also be allowing a player into the H.O.F. who was just lucky enough to never get caught. That doesn’t seem right to me. Electing to take this option runs the risk of allowing in someone who used drugs, while keeping out someone who did the exact same thing but just so happened to get caught. We don’t know for sure who used and who didn’t, so I feel they should all share in the same fate. Either let them all in, or keep them all out; and you already know how I feel about leaving them all out.
OPTION 3: LET ALL OF THEM IN
This is the best possible option, in my opinion. Yes, I’m aware that by doing this you’re allowing in players who were connected to drug use, but I don’t see another way to truly make sure the great players of that era are allowed in, without holding a grudge against one side or the other. Letting them all in makes sure that you keep it fair for the suspected users while also keeping it fair for the players who were actually connected. Leaving them all out isn’t fair to those who didn’t use, and letting the ones who were suspected in while leaving the ones who were connected out doesn’t seem fair either. I know it might seem as if the players connected to drug use don’t deserve a fair vote, but the way I see it, they do.
Those who used drugs throughout the ‘Steroid Era’ certainly made things very complicated.
Up until a few days ago, I never would’ve gone with option three. I was fairly adamant that any player who was connected to drug use shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Those players cheated; plain and simple. However, the more I think about it, due to the lack of evidence against those players who were merely suspected of using a PED, in the end, I couldn’t go with my original mindset.
Now, I’m sure many of you (perhaps all of you?) disagree with my take on the matter, but I hope you at least understand, to a point, where I’m coming from (if I haven’t already confused the heck out of you). Due to the poor drug testing policy throughout the late 1980’s up through the early 2000’s’, we will never know for sure exactly which players did, and which players didn’t, use performance enhancing drugs. Therefore, if I had a vote, I would vote for every one of them to get into the Hall of Fame.
There are some people who say that if you allow players into the Hall of Fame that are connected to (or suspected of) PED’s, that you should place them in a separate wing, or, at the very least, add an asterisk next to their name. I really don’t see the need. Any true baseball fan who makes the trek to Cooperstown–a few years from now or 100 years down the road–will know the history of the ‘Steroid Era’, if they’re honestly true fans. They’ll know what each player did or didn’t do, and they’ll each have their own feelings as to whether they feel each player belongs in the Hall of Fame. Let them decide how they feel for themselves.
In the end, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Biggio, Piazza and Schilling are still some of the greatest players in the history of the game. Do I think any of them will get in this time around? Absolutely not. Do I think any of them will get in a few years down the road? I truly hope so. Keeping out this batch of players because of the unknown just wouldn’t be right. But then again, if you’ll look back at the history of Hall of Fame voting, the right thing hasn’t always been done.
Should Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Biggio, Piazza and Sosa ever be allowed into the Hall of Fame? Cast your vote (you can vote for as many players as you want):
If you wouldn’t let any in, leave a comment below with your reasoning.
Miguel Cabrera is currently leading the American League in RBI’s (133) and batting average (.329), while sitting just one back of Josh Hamilton in the home run category. (Hamilton has 43 dingers on the year.)
Obviously, for Cabrera to win the Triple Crown he’ll have to be leading the A.L. in home runs at the end of the season. In order to do so he’ll need to muscle together some power in the coming days to pass Hamilton in the home run category, and I just don’t see that happening. Sure, Cabrera is a power hitter and could certainly pull it off, but going against Hamilton I’d say it’s an uphill battle at best.
It seems like Hamilton hits a homer every other night, and it doesn’t help that Cabrera has been struggling somewhat at the plate lately. Home runs asside, if he doesn’t start hitting better, Cabrera’s at risk of falling into second place on the batting average list behind Joe Mauer, who (as I’m writing this) has a current batting average of .324.
While there’s a good chance that Cabrera will lead the league in RBI’s and batting average at the end of the season, the odds that he’ll crank out enough homers to pass Hamilton–who’ll more that likely hit a few more in the final stretch of the regular season–aren’t good, in my opinion.
So in conclusion, while I’m rooting for Miguel Cabrera to pull it out and become the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski, in 1967, I feel he’ll fall just short. Which will be a real shame, as Cabrera has had one heck of a year.