Results tagged ‘ Greg Maddux ’

A Braves New Day in Cooperstown

HOF2014G

This has not happened since 1996 that this large an induction class (6 members) consisting of great former Baseball heroes of the clay and grass get their names forever struck in bronze and will hear their stores and accolades echoed upon the summer air in Cooperstown on July 27, 3014. Even more amazing is the fact every inductee is currently drawing breathe and would make this the largest living class induction since 1941.

thHT376MVKI think I can safely predict that on that great summer day in Cooperstown, New York this baseball hamlet might hold a 24 hour distinction of being dubbed ATL-North. It is amazing that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Joe Torres (played in Atlanta) and Frank Thomas will forever be aside the bronzed likenesses of such baseball icons as Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle as well as newer members Ripken, Boggs and Brett.  571 voters cast their votes for the induction class.

For the record, Maddux topped the list with 97.2% followed in order by Glavine (91.9), and Thomas (83.7%).  Interesting enough, if Craig Biggio had been placed on 2 more ballots he would had beaten the requirement of at least 75 percent and made this the largest first year player ballot since 1955.

Biggio’s 74.8 percent tally might make him a heavy favorite for 2015 induction, but as we have seen in this year’s results, not until they are cast can the bronze plaque design begin. Lest we forget such dominating past baseball names like Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez will be newbies on next year’s Hall of Fame ballot and some would predict early favorites to be inducted next January.

One of the biggest question that was being pondered and debated before the official announcement was if Maddux could top Tom Seaver’s historic Hall of Fame induction percentage mark of  You can bet more than a few comments and profanity-laced communications will be directed at the 16 BBWAA voters who decided to not to name Maddux on their ballot sealing his demise of not gaining the most percentage point ever for Hall of Fame induction. That will be a small side story told cross the country today, but one we all hoped might happen just for the sake anointing a new standard for voting excellence. But with 3 Braves caps heading into the Hall of Fame corridors, the South at least for today has risen high and can thump its chest out proud once again.

It is simply amazing that Braves icons pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and their always positive Manager Bobby Cox will share that grand day all receiving yellow jackets, bronze plaques. The Atlanta duo was expected to join Cox on the stage in 2014, but not until their names were bellowed loud and proud could the ATL faithful begin to search venues and hovels for their pilgrimage to Cooperstown

thCVXVSV95Joining these 3 Braves into induction in his first year of eligibility will be the “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas who not only showed the grace of hitting for average, but could punish any pitch with a swing that was the envy of so many other MLB masters. Thomas who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada was one of those guys you could bet with certainty even before the New Year began would be “bronzed”. Thomas played the game with integrity, honor and I do not think even a whisper ever was heard about him abusing PEDs or altering the scope of the game in any way.  That in itself is a true testament of why Thomas deserves his plaque in an era where voices carried untruths and soured even the best of honest intentions within the game.

Even more amazing is Thomas’s selection might have opened wide the further discussions on a Designated Hitter getting the call for the Hall of Fame. Thomas did not play the DH spot all his career as such Hall hopefuls as Edgar Martinez. But what Thomas’s selection has grooved is the ideal that being a DH will not in the future possibly dismiss you from Hall consideration or have your stats discounted because of your spot on the lineup card, but not on the field.  This could speak to many within the game finally giving credo to the DH evolution of the game and possibly we could see someone like Martinez garner more future Hall consideration and votes as well as open the Hall of Fame doors wider for future eligible Hall of Fame candidates like current Boston DH David Ortiz to becoming a more acceptable chance at garnering a Hall selection after he hangs up his well-used spikes.

Today’s Hall of Fame announcements did have a darker side as some players saw their chances become bleaker and darken with another year passed and no movement up the proverbial hill in voting percentages. The biggest name to see a slide due to his last year of eligibility on this ballot was former Tiger pitcher “Black” Jack Morris who now will have to go the Expansion Era committee route to gain induction after only garnering 61.5 percent of the vote. Morris also received 6.2 percent less support this year than in 2013.

bigpizAmazingly the only 2 players to garner more voting percentage point this year in their second year of eligibility were Biggio (6.2%) and Mike Piazza saw his own increase in his voting numbers to 62.2 percent, a 4.2 % increase over last year’s ballot.  4 players saw double digit decreases in their voting percentages as former closer Lee Smith garnered 17.9 % less votes this year. The other 3 losing ground towards the Hall summer stage were Alan Trammell (12.8%), Larry Walker (11.4%) and Edgar Martinez (10.7%).

Names you will not see on the 2015 ballot based on low percentages or no votes cast besides Morris will be: Rafael Palmero (4.4%), Moises Alou (1.1%), Hideo Nomo (1.1%), Luis Gonzalez (0.9%), Eric Gagne (0.4%), J T Snow (0.4%), Armando Benitez (0.2%), Jacque Jones (0.2%), Kenny Rogers (0.2%). The following names did not garner a single vote and will also be excluded from consideration for the Hall of Fame next winter. They are: Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexon and Mike Timlin.

I want to again congratulate Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and the Veteran’s Committee inductees Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre into the Cooperstown Hall and salute the BBWAA for their insight and votes in completing and enshrining each of these great men into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

With the names of those selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is now official and complete it is time to focus upon another long awaited moment……Pitchers and Catchers report in 37 DAYS!!!!!

Rays Tidbits

 

The Trivia question for today is for my die hard Red Sox’s Nation fans.

Who’s spirit is said to haunt the stands and press box of Fenway Park?

 

Here is a hint, the current voice of the Sox, Carl Beane, is known to voice a few commonly used  lines from this deceased, and beloved announcer every game . The answer will be at the bottom of the blog.

 

It has just been reported to me from the Rays coconut telegraph that the Rays have inquired about a player from the Atlanta Braves. The player being discussed is third baseman Wily Aybar. Wily was acquired by the Braves in the Dany Baez trade a few years ago from the LA Dodgers’, and has had a few off- field situations for the organization.

Is this might be an insurance policy for the Rays concerning top prospect Evan Longoria. I thought the Rays were set with either Longoria manning the 5-hole or ultra 3b/1b power maven Joel Guzman helping to fill the power gap and base duties until Longoria hit the big time.

Guess the Rays think that they might need another project player who has had situations with the MLB substance abuse system and has left hot-lanta for help from relatives in Boston, without the Braves knowing this beforehand.  Guess we need to have a charitable situation on every roster to remind us why free agents do not flock here to the rain-less confines of the Trop.

 

Granted, Aybar has power and a great glove. He is young( 24), and has a huge upside. But unlike Matt Garza, his upside comes with some baggage that we just traded off to the Washington Nationals. Unlike Dukes, there is no ex-wife or court battles lingering in his future, past or present. Abyar  has tried to show that his wrist injury and situation are behind him.  In Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic, playing for top team Licey, he compiled a .339 average and a .415 OPS in 15 games. 15 games is not the rigors of Spring Training or a 162 game season, but it does give insight to his health and the condition he is in this off season.

Let’s hope the Rays decide to gamble and let Longoria start at third this Spring Training without a upshot prospect looking over his back wanting his position. Let’s hope this team has finally taken the high road and can rely on it’s intuition more about it’s players and their potential. We have a great scouting system that has shown us we have a great knack for talent in our past and in the players coming through the system.

 

I have a few websites on my Bookmarks that show prospects and MLB trade rumors concerning  all baseballs current players. The one I like to visit every day is http://www.MLBTraderumors.com. I am thinking about asking them if they need a correspondent to do the upcoming season from a field-side aspect for the Rays. I have done this before for a newspaper, and during the year for a blob on MLB.com, but never on a daily basis with an emphasis on just one team or segment.

Another writer that has my interest is Eric SanInocencio from Rays Anatomy. He compels me more because he is based out of Birmingham ,Alabama and has a great sense of the Rays and their system. You got to remember that Birmingham is the town that gave you the Michael Jordan experience in the Minor Leagues, and is a hot bed for college and minor league baseball. He is very insightful and genuinely frank about our squad and the upcoming season. Please check it out, and if it is in your type of writing, and you like his style, bookmark him and check in daily, weekly or monthly if that is your thing.

 

I was hitting Rays Anatomy the other day, and saw a article about the Top 20 prospects in baseball. A few are already up in the MLB with short stints in September,2007 , like the Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain.

The Rays had 5 members in that Top 20 list. The second best prospect was, of course, Evan Longoria.  David Price was listed at number 4, but he has not pitched since the NCAA Regional last year and is predicted to make a fast upward move if his stuff is still there this spring. Price has the confidence and the gentle cockiness to know he can survive the MLB hitters and be a great starter for the Rays. I think this kid is the real thing and can be the hidden talent that James Shields showed us a few years ago. He has three pitches that are MLB quality right now.

 

 The thing is, he might need until July to get the rust out and get that command back where he is a threat every time he hits the rubber for the Rays. A lot of news organizations have the Rays contending in 2011 for a AL East crown. If that is the truth, the list of players mentioned in third blog will be the heart and soul of the rotation and lineup in that time period.

Reid Brignac is out future in the SS hole. I have no doubts about this guy after meeting him and seeing a short highlights film on him in the Minors last year. He as slick at the plate as he is in the field. Smooth, rhythmic and poised to be a power hitter in the bottom of the order for the Rays.  He is being nurtured slowly in the minors to develop fully before even hitting the Trop’s infield.

 

I will go on record as saying, that I was hoping B J Upton would get another shot here before Reid was brought up, but he is making a huge  improvement in the off season in Centerfield, and should be an All-Star in the near future with his speed and agility.

Wade Davis and Jacob McGee.

Well, to start, they were impressive at Gulf Coast League,Vero Beach last year before hitting the SW Michigan Rays squad, and have another productive year under their belts  They are currently pitching like a duo not seen since Greg Maddox and Tom Glavine. They have the tools and the abilities to be in the starting rotation in the coming years and be great supporting teammates to the guys they came up with in the Minors. They both have a great head on their collective shoulders and will be great influences in the system for a long time.

The last guy I am going to talk a bit about here is someone who is going to probably get a long look-at this Spring Training. I do not think he is going to be on the 25 man roster this spring, but he is coming up the Rays system fast, and will be pressing on the door this year, maybe as early as June or July.  John Jaso is a great draft pick who is doing everything asked of him the minors, and is going to get his deserved time this Spring.

 

Jaso is not even listed in the Top 10 prospects in the Rays system by some people because he has risen so fast behind the plate. He did something this past year that he has not done in prior Minor league seasons in the Rays system. He was healthy.

There are a few people who think that he will start just below the MLB level this year with the Triple-A Durham Bulls. With Dioner Navarro, and Mike De Felice manning the backstop this year, do not be surprised if Jaso get off to a great start, that he broad jumps a few catchers in the system and is sitting in the Bullpen at the Trop by September.

 

I like Navarro but he has not produced yet to show that high draft pick by the Yankees in the past. This is not to put a curse or hex on the guy. He is a great guy who grew up in the Tampa Bay area, and is a great feel good story for the organization. Dioner will have to keep that great batting streak going that he showed in the second half of the 2007 season to keep the talking to a whisper.

I hope this happens. I like the emotional firestorm that is Mike D, but he does come with some vocal disabilities behind the plate. Now, this is not to mean that he is shy or timid. The exact opposite is true here. Mike has been known to get tossed for his opinions and actions in the past. Just ask the Tigers about his rant a few years ago.  But to be totally frank here, it might be the attitude these young pitchers see from a catcher to give them that extra “umph” to push their game to the next level. An emotional catcher, and a vocal leader can fire up a situation faster than striking out the side.

We shall see.

 

Trivia answer:

It is said that former Red Sox announcer Sherm Feller visits the sox during the home stands and his presence has been felt at the park for a long time. The line that current announcer Carl Beane borrowed from Feller is to say the simple phrase of :”Thank You” after announcing the  teams coaches’. He sees it as a tribute to Feller because for many years, it was Feller’s style to conclude the lineups in that manor. He also does a opening nightly/daily greeting, “Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, Welcome to Fenway Park”, just the way the Sherm Feller did all his years at Fenway Park. This adds a sense of history and continued elegance to this storied franchise.

 

 

With that, I am gone.  It is less than 28 days until Pitchers and Catcher report, and I am giddy as a school kid again.   I love the Spring.



 

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