January 2010

Larkin's HOF chances?

I took a read around the Internets today as I wrote a preview story about the Hall of Fame ballot reveal on Wednesday as it pertains to Barry Larkin.

Several BBWAA members with Hall of Fame votes revealed their picks. Based on what I saw, Larkin could fall a little short of the required 75 percent.

In Larkin’s favor were writers like ESPN’s Jayson Stark, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Hal McCoy and another Hall of Fame writer, Tracy Ringolsby. So were Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman and Ken Davidoff of Newsday.

“Barry Larkin is one of the greatest shortstops who ever lived. Period,” Stark wrote. “Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer. An easy Hall of Famer.”

“OK, so Larkin didn’t revolutionize the position the way Ripken and Ozzie Smith did, ” Rosenthal wrote. “And none of his achievements was as historic as Ripken’s consecutive-games streak. His 10 career trips to the disabled list also deprived him of greater counting stats. Shouldn’t matter. Larkin was a more complete player than Smith and perhaps even Ripken.”

From Scott Miller of CBSSports.com:

“In Larkin’s case, for example, his on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) was .815, as opposed to the NL shortstop league average during Larkin’s career of .678. The only two shortstops throughout the past 30 years whose OPS was that much higher than everyone else at his position was Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra. I’m not sure enough people appreciate this aspect of Larkin, and I think he’ll probably fall short in this year’s voting.”

BaseballThinkFactory.com had a leaderboard based on 88 full ballots it saw. Not looking favorable for Larkin.

88.8 – Alomar
81.8 – Blyleven
80.7 – Dawson
58.0 – Larkin

Dave Van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune said no on Larkin and also no on Bert Blyleven, Edgar Martinez, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. Van Dyck picked Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson and Lee Smith to get in.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com told me he did not check Larkin’s name on his ballot.

In his story for USA Today, Mike Dodd revealed his ballot and was not in Larkin’s corner. His main reasoning, however, seemed nearly laughable.

“I’m one of those voters who believes first-ballot election is a genuine distinction and a worthy one,” Dodd wrote. “And I think Larkin falls just short of it. I’ll vote for him next year. And yes, probably [Alan] Trammell, too.”

I know voters can change their minds over the years and players’ careers can take on a different perspective with more time — that’s their privilege. But holding out on someone you think is worthy just because he shouldn’t get in during his first time on the ballot? Really? 

Can someone explain to me how Larkin’s numbers will improve from year one on the ballot to year two and beyond? The notion of a “first ballot Hall of Famer” is a bit silly. He’s either a Hall of Famer or he isn’t.

The 2010 HOF ballot will be revealed at 2 p.m. ET. MLB.com and MLB Network will carry it live.

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Catching up with the GM

Spring Training is about seven weeks away. That means over 100 free agents will soon be scurrying to find jobs before camps open and that their prices could come down.

The Reds don’t have the resources to add big names at big prices. However, general manager Walt Jocketty will be trolling the market to seek players open to Minor League deals with non-roster invites to camps.

“We’ll definitely be looking at the types like that,” Jocketty said on Monday.

The Reds are still seeking an infielder that can play shortstop, a starting pitcher and a hitter. The door isn’t closed at bringing back free agent Jonny Gomes, who was non-tendered last month.

“We’ll spend the next few weeks looking at guys and see if it fits into what we’re trying to do,” Jocketty said.

There are 48 starting pitchers still on the free agent market. Among the bargain items, the Reds’ minimal interest in the long-injured Noah Lowry now seems to be less than that. There has been no follow-up since Jocketty mentioned last month the club was taking a look. 

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, these are the seven remaining shortstops:

Alfredo Amezaga (32)
Orlando Cabrera (35) – Type A, can’t be offered arb
Chris Gomez (39)
Nick Green (31)
Khalil Greene (30)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A, not offered arb

Jocketty was out of the country when the Scott Rolen restructuring/extension was revealed on Dec. 19. As expected, he noted that the move was not made to clear space to add a high-priced player.

“It was a move to keep our team as much intact as we can,” Jocketty said. “We’re still not in position to add more to the club. We think we have a pretty good club as it is.
… We’ve got a unique situation. We like the guys we have at different positions. We haven’t found anyone at our price range that significantly upgrades our club. We’re looking to improve but haven’t found a way to do that.”

In other news, Edinson Volquez (Tommy John surgery, right elbow) is slated to begin a throwing program this week.  

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