McAdam: One writer's Hall of Fame criteria

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McAdam: One writer's Hall of Fame criteria

It's become fashionable in some BBWAA circles to lament the fact that voters for the Hall of Fame are limited to 10 players on the ballot annually.

If these voters had their way, Cooperstown would be building an annex every few years to accommodate all the immortals judged worthy of entrance.

Sorry, but I find such a stance laughable. The notion that more than 10 players on the current ballot are deserving of recognition as all-time greats, among the best to ever play the game, is beyond my comprehension.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's both the beauty and the curse, I suppose, of surveying more than 500 eligible voters each December.

When it comes to voting for the Hall, I tend to fall on the other end of the spectrum. In more than a dozen years of voting, only once did I vote for more than three players in any one year. (That was in 1999 when I voted for Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, George Brett and Carlton Fisk).

In other words, I am considered a "small Hall'' voter, as opposed to some of my colleagues who would be classified as "large Hall'' voters. My approach isn't meant to be punitive in any way. I merely believe the standards for Cooperstown should be set -- and remain -- very high. Others are more inclusive. Viva la difference.

Most years, I have voted for, on average, two players. Once, I returned a blank ballot (1998) and nearly did so again this time before I had a change of heart.

Among the newcomers -- led by Bernie Williams -- there was no one I gave any strong consideration. And given the fact that, a year ago, I voted only for Roberto Alomar, there were no holdovers for whom I felt compelled to vote.

Upon further review, however, I changed that.

After giving some consideration to voting for Jeff Bagwell in his first year of eligibility, I ultimately passed on him. Bagwell has been suspected of PED use and that was enough for me to exclude him from my ballot.

But the more I thought about it, the more that decision seemed wrong. After all, Bagwell was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report. He wasn't implicated by our great moral arbiter, Jose Canseco. He has no links to other notorious steroid-era figures such as Kurt Radomski or Brian McNamara. And he didn't lie to Congress or a grand jury.

The case against Bagwell, such as it is, is that he hit four homers at Double A, then "blossomed'' into a slugger when he reached the major leagues.

But there's no evidence whatsoever that Bagwell ever used PEDs. Baseball history is full of players who, for a variety of reasons, perform far better at the major leagues than they did in the minors.

Taken on his numbers alone, Bagwell is very much a worthy Cooperstown candidate.

In 15 full seasons, he hit 449 home runs, or precisely one shy of avergaging exactly 30 homers for his career. He sported a career .408 on-base percentage and a career slugging percentage of .540 for an OPS of .948.

He had double-figures in steals 10 times and scored 100 or more runs nine times, including a staggering 152 runs in 2000, the most for a player since 1936. In fact, he's one of just 22 players since World War II to accumulate both 1,500 runs scored and 1,500 RBI in his career.

Bagwell was also a terrific defender, regularly among the league leaders for assists and putouts at his position.

In short, Bagwell's numbers unequivocally make him a Hall of Famer. The lone black mark -- if you can call it that -- is his rumored involvement with PEDs, though there's not a shred of hard, actual evidence to support that.

Here are the rest of the most talked-about candidates and my reason(s) for not giving them my vote:

JACK MORRIS: Morris was a horse and a terrific big game pitcher (think no further than Game 7 in 1991). But his 3.90 ERA, compiled almost entirely before the steroid era, would be the highest of any starter in the Hall. Clutch? Yes. Dependable? You bet. But all-time great? I don't think so.

BARRY LARKIN: Of all the players I didn't vote for on this ballot, Larkin represented the toughest omission. He hit .295 for his career, which is quite good for a shortstop. But --- and this is where it gets tough to quantify -- I view Larkin as a very good player, but one who nonetheless falls shy of Hall of Fame status. At no time during his career did I consider Larkin one of the very best players in the game.

ALAN TRAMMELL: Like Larkin, he spent his entire career with one team and like Larkin, was incredibly consistent. But in 20 seasons, he finished in the Top 10 for MVP voting just three times and in the Top 5 just once. To me, that's a few great seasons and a lot of good-to-very-good ones, leaving him shy of all-time status.

TIM RAINES: For a period -- say, from 1982-1987 -- Raines was a spectacular player, a leadoff hitter whose talent and numbers compare favorably with Rickey Henderson. But for a player who was supposed to be such a terrific table-setter and baserunner, Raines scored more than 81 runs exactly twice in his final 14 seasons. Sorry, but his period of dominance was way too short for me.

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

BOSTON - It's a tad ironic the Red Sox met with David Ortiz on Tuesday about his post-playing career, and then the offense went out and did nothing and Xander Bogaerts was publicly lamenting Ortiz's absence two days later.

John Henry, Tom Werner, Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza, met at Fenway Park on Tuesday to discuss the retired slugger’s future role with the organization, team president Sam Kennedy said. 

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Nothing's imminent, but there's one thing Ortiz is unlikely to do with the Sox in the near future: broadcasting. He could still do some of that in the postseason for say, FOX, but it appears an arrangement with NESN isn't in the cards for now, per Kennedy.

Ortiz's role with the Red Sox is still expected to be wide-ranging, something bigger than the standard alumnus agreement. He seems set on taking his time, enjoying his retired life, saying over the weekend he wants to be able to give the job the time it deserves. 

Kennedy in April was unsure if anything would get done this year. 

As for the team's play without Ortiz, and Bogaerts' comments?

"This is an incredibly talented ballclub," Werner said Friday at a luncheon benefitting the Red Sox Foundation and the Foundation To Be Named Later. "I’m really not terribly concerned. Like all fans, I’m a bit frustrated when we don’t give great pitching run support.

"We struggled the last couple of nights. It’s frustrating to think that Chris Sale, who I think is the best pitcher in the American League, doesn’t have much run support. But it’s April. I've been taught to not really look at the standings 'til July. Frustrated by the past two days, but look at the standings, and we’re only one win behind the Cubs. So you know, I mean I wish we were playing a little bit better,  but the team is going to bounce back."

Werner reiterated the Sox have room in their budget to add players ahead of the trade deadline.


 

Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

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Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

The offensively challenged Red Sox welcome the defending world champion Cubs (something you haven’t been able to write since 1909) to Fenway Park tonight for a three-game series. 

Boston (11-10) has the fewest home runs in the majors (11) and is tied for next-to-last with Toronto in the American League in runs scored (78). The Red Sox scored only once in the two-game sweep by the Yankees (on an RBI groundout by Chris Young in the ninth inning Wednesday). 

They turn to left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60 ERA) tonight against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65), who flirted with a no-hitter at Fenway (7 2/3, 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 Chicago win) the last the time Cubs visited in 2014. 

Dustin Pedroia (.242) is hitting sixth for the first time in his career and Xander Bogaerts (.313) leads off for the Red Sox.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox have added utility man Chase d’Arnaud - acquired off waivers from the Atlanta Braves - to the 25-man roster and called up right-handed reliever Ben Taylor from Triple-A Pawtucket.

To make room on the roster, lefty reliever Robbie Ross Jr. and utility man Steve Selsky were optioned to Pawtucket. 

The full lineups: 

CUBS
Kyle Schwarber DH
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Addison Russell SS
Willson Contreras C
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Báez 2B
Albert Almora CF

Jake Arrieta RHP 

RED SOX
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Marco Hernandez 3B

Drew Pomeranz LHP