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Atlanta Braves musings on the Hall of Fame, Off-season

The business of baseball will likely take a pause today in deference to the announcement of new Hall of Fame members later today.  But it won’t stop some ranting about it.

I just hope that someday there’s a veterans committee formed that has enough Atlanta Braves representation on it to get Fred McGriff into the Hall.

That’s exactly how Harold Baines got in this year… with White Sox support.  Frankly, McGriff shouldn’t need it… but now he does as his last trip to the main ballot results in another disappointment.

@NotMrTibbs (Ryan Thibodaux) has once again blessed us with his voter tracker for the Hall of Fame ballots than have been released.  Just over half of them are on his chart.

Mariano Rivera will be elected.  Edgar Martinez will be elected.  Roy Halladay will be elected.  Mike Mussina will be a very close call… probably down to single digits of votes either way.  He’ll make it no later than 2020.

The good news is that these former players deserve a place in Cooperstown.  The bad news is that so many more also do.

There’s quirks all up and down the ballot tracker:

  • Omar Vizquel… clearly getting votes because of his defense alone… is polling at 38%.  Yet Andruw Jones – every bit his equal defensively – is barely getting 8%.  Oh, and Andruw hit a bit, too.
  • McGriff did see a bump this year… to 38.5% so far, up 50% from 23% in 2018.  He could hit 40%.
  • Yet Larry Walker jumped from 34% last year all the way to 65% this year.  And we keep hearing there’s a bias against Coors Field players (eye roll).
    • Then again, maybe there is… Todd Helton?  Only 18%
  • Lance Berkman will inexplicably fall off the ballot, having garnered less than 1% so far.  His candidacy might be open for debate, but 1%??

The 10 player vote limit is being used up a lot this year, with over half of the public ballots hitting that mark.  Still, I have noticed evidence of some strategic moves.  But can we at least see some logical consistency??

A couple of voters opted to unvote for McGriff this year.  My suspicion is that they made the call early on that he wouldn’t make it, so rather than “waste” a vote they moved it to another player.  I suppose the thought is that it might be a more productive use of that vote.


I want to see changes to the balloting:

  • Remove the 10-player vote cap.
  • No ‘unvotes’.  If I can’t vote for everybody, then give me this:  If you vote for a player 1 year, you are automatically granted that vote the following year – and it doesn’t count against your 10.
  • Not just writers.  The balloting process is antiquated, based on newspaper writers from an era that’s almost history now.  They were the ones who saw the most baseball because aside from their accounts, radio was the only medium fans had to follow the game without a ticket.  That has changed.
    • Many of those with votes are being updated and new writers are being added who actually cover the sport full time (Dave O’Brien is one – now free from the shackles of the AJC).  So there are some changes happening.

But these things happen at glacial paces.  Maybe… eventually… the voting process will be more accurate and more logical and free from controversy.

Maybe I’ll win the lottery tomorrow, too (kinda tough when you don’t have a ticket).


The Off-season plods along

Speaking of glacial paces… one at a time, trades are happening and free agents are grudgingly signing.

At this point, I think I’d not be surprised if Craig Kimbrel called up the Yankees and agree to sign for the 2019 season for the major league minimum salary… just so that he could stick it to the Red Sox.

Here’s the best closer in the game right now (Yes, I see your hand, Edwin Diaz… but that was 1 year) and he deserves to be paid like it… or at least close.

Based on the signings of his peers, Kimbrel should be getting at least $14 million per year… for however many years could be had.

The Yankees have busily been gathering backend bullpen arms like crazy – they could end up with a bullpen of legendary proportions.

The Red Sox?  Defending World Series champs?  Nothing.

This is why there’s more than a small chance that Kimbrel could choose to ‘come home’.  The Red Sox are trying to give him the ‘J.D. Martinez’ treatment.

He should call their bluff… and go elsewhere.


The Outfield

We’ve chatted a lot about outfielders over the past few weeks.  Here’s the good news:

  • There’s still a number of solid options out there
  • The Braves only need one of them

I don’t care if you’re talking Pederson, Rosario, Renfroe, Pollock, Parra, Peralta, Castellanos, … yes… even Haniger or Harper.  There are good hitters who should be able to complement this Braves lineup well.

I’m just getting more excited to see this happen… and also kinda hoping that Cleveland continues to do nothing for a while longer despite needing an entire outfield… still.


The Bullpen

There’s another reason I’d love to have Kimbrel back.  If there’s not a new frontline starting pitcher coming, then having a top-shelf closer on the staff will help make the entire rotation better.

Adding Kimbrel to the bullpen takes – what should be – an improved bullpen and makes all of them better by pushing them down a slot each.  Kimbrel wouldn’t replace Vizacaino… he’d replace (perhaps) Sam Freeman.  Now we’re at premium level.

Having that done, this would allow Brian Snitker to use those guys to relieve starters at more advantageous times with less concern over the consequences.  That makes the rotation better.

It’s just a thought, but hey – if you can’t have one… the other is still available.

Next: It’s Getting Closer!

Enjoy Hall of Fame day.

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