As the countdown to the beginning of Spring Training slowly ticks on, there are several “big name” free agents who have not yet signed a contract. Most MLB players will be reporting to Spring Training sites around February 13. The first Spring Training games will begin February 22. So, what happens if Spring Training begins and the free agents have not yet been signed?

There have been reports that some of the unsigned free agents could band together and have their own Spring Training…just so they can get all of their pre-season workouts in while waiting for a contract offer. So, why haven’t these “big name” free agents signed a contract? To me, the answer is in two words:  SCOTT BORAS. The agent is representing four of those “big name” free agents…pitcher Jake Arrieta, first baseman Eric Hosmer, outfielder J.D. Martinez and third baseman Mike Moustakas. Any of these four free agents has the ability to turn an average team into a contender or a contending team into one that could go all the way to the World Series.

A pretty interesting comment was made by Kenley Jansen, closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the Fan Fest over the weekend, Jansen was saying that perhaps players need to go on strike in order for the stagnation of free agency to be taken seriously.  Of course, Jansen has the comfort of knowing that he signed a five-year, $80 million contract before the start of last season and is signed through 2021. Perhaps, someone should tell Mr. Jansen that if the players go out on strike THEY WON’T GET PAID!

There are a couple of theories as to why these free agents have not yet signed.  One:  Boras and his players are way too greedy.  Case in point: J.D. Martinez has a five-year, $125 million contract offer from the Boston Red Sox. Apparently, that is not enough…when the free agent period began, last November, Boras told anyone who would listen that he would be seeking a contract in the area of $200.  So, I guess $125 million is not enough!

A second theory: There are several All Star-caliber players who are due to become free agents after the 2018 season.  Among them are:  Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw (who can opt out of his current contract), John Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, Dallas Keuchel and Brian Dozier. Some baseball pundits believe that teams do not want to spend a lot of money this year and make a run after the free agents after next season.

My advice to the current free agents:  Take what is offered to you…you may not get a better offer. There are quite a few players in the majors who would love to have J.D. Martinez’s offer of five years and $125 million.


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The 2018 Major League baseball season unofficially began yesterday with the announcement of four players being voted into the Hall of Fame; they are: Chipper Jones, who played all 19 years of his career with the Atlanta Braves and received 97.2% of the votes; Vladimir Guerrero, slugging outfielder who spent the majority of his career with Montreal and the Angels; Jim Thome, five-time All Star left-handed hitting slugger; and Trevor Hoffman, one of only two relievers in MLB history to record 600+ saves. The quartet will join ex-Tigers Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in Cooperstown, NY in July.

Falling just short of being elected into the Hall of Fame was Edgar Martinez, arguably the top designated hitter in MLB history. Martinez received 70.4% of the votes…he needed at least 75% to get into the Hall. Most baseball pundits seem to believe that Martinez will make it next year…his final year of eligibility.

Of the four players elected yesterday, Jones was the most successful. Drafted first overall by Atlanta in 1990, Jones helped lead the Braves to 11 consecutive National League division titles and 14 in 15 years.  He helped guide the Braves to three World Series appearances, winning a World Series title in 1995.  Jones is the fourth player from that 1995 championship team to be elected into the Hall of Fame, joining teammates Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. In addition, Braves manager Bobby Cox is also in the Hall.

Jones hit 468 home runs in his career and drove in 1,623 runs.  He is also the second-best switch hitter in MLB history, trailing only the great Mickey Mantle. Jones was an eight-time All Star, winning two Silver Slugger awards and was selected National League Most Valuable Player in 1999, when he hit .319 with 45 home runs and 110 RBI. Jones won his only batting title in 2008 when he finished with a .364 average. He played 1,993 games at third base and the Atlanta Braves organization honored Jones by retiring his number 10 in 2013.

Nicknamed “Big Daddy Vladdy” or “Vlad the Impaler”, Guerrero began his career with the Montreal Expos in 1996 and retired in 2011.  In between, he collected 2,590 hits, smacked 449 homers, drove in 1,496 runs and also displayed speed with 181 stolen bases. In fact, Guerrero stole 37 bases in 2001 and followed that up with 40 steals in 2002. In 2004, Guerrero signed a free-agent contract with the Angels and starred with them for six seasons. He was a five-time All Star and won eight Silver Slugger awards…five in the American League and three in the National League. Guerrero went to the World Series only once, in 2010 with the Texas Rangers. The name Vladimir Guerrero may soon appear in box scores again as his son, Vladimir Jr., is currently in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization and has been listed as the third-best prospect in MLB at third base.

Known as the “Pride of Peoria”, Thome was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB draft…the 331st player overall selected that year. He made his debut with the Indians on September 4, 1991 and played his last game on October 11, 2012. In between, Thome belted 612 home runs and drove in 1,699 runs. He is the eighth-place all-time in homers and one of nine players to hit 600 or more round-trippers. Thome’s best season hitting home runs were 2001 when he slugged 49 and followed that up in 2002 with 52. He hit 40 or more homers six times in his career. Thome was selected as an All Star four times in the American League and once in the National League. He led Cleveland into the World Series twice…in 1995 and 1997; however, he did not win a World Series ring.

Later in his career, Hoffman was noted for entering a ball game to the strains of “Hells Bells” blaring through the loud speakers. Drafted by Cincinnati in the 11th round of the 1989 draft (the 288th player taken overall), Hoffman is only behind the great Mariano Rivera (who will probably be a first-year

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I would like to see baseball commissioner Rob Manfred don his “Bowie Kuhn” cap and veto the trade of Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, telling us that this trade “Is not in the best interest of baseball.”  The systematic dismantling of the Miami Marlins by new owner Derek Jeter is similar to the time when Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley tried to sell of three of his star players…starter Vida Blue, outfielder Joe Rudi and closer Rollie Fingers. Kuhn put the “kibosh” on the sale and there was quite a flurry of back-and-forth comments by Finley and Kuhn.

This case seems quite similar to Oakland’s in that Jeter is just beginning his purge…he is expected to trade away several more of his players. And…oh, by the way, does anybody think that Jeter trading Stanton to his former team is a little fishy?

One way that MLB has tried to prevent a team from “over-spending” on free agents and trade candidates is the so-called “luxury tax”. Teams that exceed the luxury tax threshold is taxed a percentage of the amount they have gone over that limit. The Yankees have exceeded the luxury tax limit over the past four seasons. The penalty for doing so is for a team to be taxed a percentage of the amount over the limit. The first offense is 22.5%, the second offense is 30% and the third…and subsequent offenses is 50%. Over the past several seasons the Yankees have paid nearly $300 million in taxes. Obviously, the luxury cap is not working for them. The Yankees would rather spend the money, make more money and pay the taxes and figuratively stick their tongues out at MLB.

The Yankees are certainly not the only team that has exceeded the luxury tax limit over the past few years. The Dodgers have paid over $81 million in luxury taxes and very nearly “bought” a World Series championship in 2017. Now, the question is: can the “Boys in Blue” make it back to the Fall Classic? Odds are they won’t…last year was the first time since 1988 that the Dodgers went to the World Series…their longest drought in franchise history.

So, is there anything Commissioner Manfred can do to prevent the Marlins from getting rid of all of their talented players? Probably not. The franchise has conducted a “fire-sale” twice before: After the 1997 and the 2003 seasons. Of course, that was a little different: those happened after the Marlins won World Series titles. This time, they are doing it just to get rid of current and future stars.

Rest assured, the people in Miami are not happy all of this is happening. After the team helped finance a new ball park, at a tidy cost of $515 million, fans were hoping the franchise would then put a competitive team on the field.  That has not yet happened and probably will not happen for several years to come. Have fun, Mr. Jeter!


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Most of the time, when a former major league player gets elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is as a result of his reputation as being “flashy” as well as putting up impressive numbers during a long and successful career. Then, there are players who get in because of steady, consistent performances. Two these kinds of players who were just recently elected into the Hall of Fame, were exactly that: steady, consistent players.

Starting pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, who both played the majority of their careers with the Detroit Tigers, were selected by a committee that focuses on players who played in the majors since 1970. Both players displayed remarkable endurance: Morris pitched for 18 years…13 of them with the Tigers…while Trammell lasted 20 years…all with Detroit.  Both players posted some very impressive career statistics.

Morris won 254 games in his career. That was not even in the top 40 list of most career wins; however, he won more games than Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Whitey Ford, and Luis Tiant. He recorded 20 or more wins three times and had 19 victories in 1984. Morris may not have displayed flashiness, like a Marichal or a Tiant, but he accomplished something far better: he won four World Series rings! Several notable superstars…Barry Bonds, Rod Carew, Ken Griffey, Jr., Tony Gwynn, Ty Cobb and Ted Williams…never won a single World Series ring!

Morris was consistent when it counted: in the post-season. He made 13 post-season starts and won seven games. In the World Series alone, he was 4-2 with a 2.96 ERA. To say that he was a “money” pitcher would be an understatement.


In this day and age of free agency and higher-than-normal trade activity, not many players get to be on the same field for more than three or four seasons.  That makes the following stat so very incredible: Alan Trammell and his second-base teammate, Lou Whitaker, played together with Detroit for a staggering 1,918 games! Of the 2,188 games Trammell played, 2,134 of them were as a shortstop.

Again, like his teammate Jack Morris, Trammell was not flashy…not like an Ozzie Smith, or a Phil Rizzuto. Trammell was, however, consistent: a six-time All Star, winner of four Gold Gloves plus three Silver Slugger Awards…although, he would not have been considered a “slugger”, per se. Trammell hit only 185 career homers but did drive in over 1,000 runs. A lifetime .285 hitter, Trammell did hit .300 or better seven times and collected 2,365 hits. He was also durable: Trammell played in 139 or more games six consecutive years and had over 9,000 plate appearances.

Trammell and Morris played together on the Tigers’ 1984 World Series Championship team…the last time Detroit won a World Series title. Managed by the legendary Sparky Anderson, Detroit started that season 35-5 and cruised to 104 wins and won the division by 15 games. Then, in the post-season, the Tigers disposed of the Kansas City Royals in three straight and eliminated the San Diego Padres in five games.

In that championship year, Trammell hit .364 in the LCS and .450 in the World Series. Morris won one game versus the Royals and then went 2-0 in the World Series with a 2.00 ERA.

Flashy? No. Consistent? Yes. That is why Alan Trammell and Jack Morris will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. They were the epitome of what makes a solid player…they showed up every day or every start.


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Author’s Note:  A couple of weeks ago, someone told me that they would like to have me write about things other than sports. So, with that in mind, here is my latest.

     Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and as I sit here still trying to digest all that I ate yesterday, I am reflecting back on past Thanksgivings that provided some interesting memories for me and my family.

When I think about the “best” and “worst” Thanksgivings, I am reminded that those two actually happened in successive years. The worst Thanksgiving was when I was still in the military. I had the misfortune of being assigned “duty” that day. My “Thanksgiving Meal” was a greasy cheeseburger and fries that were tepid at best. Adding misery to that day was that my Detroit Lions not only lost to the Minnesota Vikings, they were shut out!

I received a “make up” on a traditional Thanksgiving meal, though, as a local family invited me and a couple of other sailors into their home.  I don’t remember much, except that the home was in Hubbard Woods…an affluent Chicago suburb.  I remember thinking: if I were to settle in Chicago, I most definitely would consider Hubbard Woods.

Coming in second in the race for the worst Thanksgiving ever, was when I and several of my co-teachers attended a convention in Orange County.  The first day was always the best as it was capped off by a wonderful sit-down dinner. That night, however, things began to go South very quickly.

Around 2:30 in the morning, our hotel’s fire alarm went off. A person on the loudspeaker and said that everyone had to evacuate.  So, off we went, down several flights of stairs, and out into the damp, chilly night. Of course, nobody had time to grab a coat!  After several minutes, we were allowed back into the hotel.

Then, less than an hour later, the fire alarm went off again! So, back down the stairs we went and once again we were back into the damp chilly night. Again, after a few minutes, we were allowed to return to our rooms. I found out, several years later, that a person had deliberately set fires; then, went around to the people outside and was offering bottles of water to them!  Of all the nerve!

The two ventures into the damp, chilly night took a toll on me and I wound up getting extremely sick and pretty much slept through Thanksgiving!

The year after my worst Thanksgiving turned out to be my best. That time, I met my wife and we went on our first date.  I remember inviting her over to watch the Lions beat the Oakland Raiders; however, she did not make it until after the game.  She confessed to me, years later, that she missed the game “on purpose”! Nevertheless, we had a great first date…Disneyland, no less…and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, sometimes, good memories are made and, unfortunately, sometimes, not-so-good memories are made!


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Here we go again…the time of the season when teams try to sign a free agent or two that will help them “get over the hump” and into the World Series. At the same time, there are players…free agents, who dream of cashing in on their performance this past season and sign a lucrative, long-term contract.  MLB pundits call this time period…from the end of the World Series to the start of Spring Training  “The Hot Stove League”.

Over 200 major and minor league players are looking for a new team during this off-season. Of those, there are 15 that would be considered “top-notch free agents…players coveted by several teams; players who could get their new team “over the hump”. The question is: will the teams dig deeply into their pockets to sign these players, or will they try to stay under the luxury cap limit: the cap is $197 for 2018.

Two free agents are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the type of contract they desire: Jay Bruce, who played for the Mets and Cleveland in 2017, is seeking a five-year deal worth $89-90 million. That is extremely believable. J.D. Martinez, however, who divided his 2017 season between Detroit and Arizona, is seeking a deal worth over $200 million. You read that right…$200 million! That would be okay if a team wants to sign him to a 15-year deal!

Now, before we try and figure out why there is such a chasm between what Bruce desires and what Martinez thinks he is going to get, let’s compare their production numbers over the past five seasons:

Bruce, who is 30 years old, averaged 28 home runs and 92 RBI from 2013 to 2017. His highest season batting average is .262, accomplished this past season. For Martinez, I had to average his totals from the past four years…the reason being is that he played in only 86 games in 2013 and his numbers from that year would have severely skewed his averages. In the past four seasons, Martinez has averaged 33 home runs and 87 RBI…very comparable to Bruce with one huge caveat: In 2014, Martinez was released by the Houston Astros…the 2017 World Series champions!

To find a comparable productive hitter with a large-scale contract, one can turn to the numbers of Justin Upton. Last year, with the Tigers and Angels, Upton had a .273 batting average with 35 homers and 109 RBI. He recently signed a five-year, $106 million contract to remain with the Angels (Actually, he signed the contract with the Tigers…the Angels added a fifth year to his contract so he would not opt out).

So, what is the reason Martinez is asking for a $200 million contract? One name provides the answer: Scott Boras, his agent. Boras has been the architect of a few gaudy contracts: He got Alex Rodriguez a 10-year, $252 million deal; then, he successfully negotiated long-term contracts for Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg…both of the Washington Nationals. Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million contract while Strasburg’s deal is for seven years at $175 million.  In addition to negotiating for Martinez this off-season, Boras and his agency also represents free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Jake Arrieta.  To say that Boras’ agency is slated to make a ton of money this free agent period is an understatement.

An issue facing Boras and his clients is that some teams that have already signed players to long-term contracts are not going to risk going over the luxury threshold. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement has a clause in place that teams who consistently surpass the cap will pay more of a tax than the previous year; so teams like Boston, the Yankees, and the Dodgers are not going to open up their wallets. So, what teams are going to go after the likes of Bruce, Martinez, Hosmer, Moustakas and Arrieta? Stay tuned and we will keep track of who signs where and for how much.


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Quick, now:  what do John Farrell and Dusty Baker have in common?  Their teams both won 93+ games over the past two seasons? Nope. That their teams won consecutive Division titles? Uh-Uh!  Oh, those are very good answers!  How about that, for their efforts over the past two seasons, they were both fired from their jobs as managers? You got it!

You will have to forgive me…I was always under the impression that the reason a manager in MLB was fired was because their team failed to make the playoffs! Like, Brad Ausmus of the Detroit Tigers, whose teams missed the playoffs for the third straight year after winning 90 games and a division title in 2014. Nay…Farrell and Baker were let go because their teams failed to advance past the Division series. Really?  There are managers from ten teams in the American League and ten teams in the National League that would have loved to be in the position that Farrell and Baker were at the end of this season.

So, what was the reason given by the Red Sox (Farrell) and Nationals (Baker) for terminating their managers? They wanted to “go in a different direction”. Translation: They want to make it to the World Series or their season would be considered a “bust”. I guess Mr. Dombrowski and Mr. Rizzo don’t realize that only one team from each League makes it to the World Series.

In the case of the Red Sox, I think it was a case of being too greedy…to try and get a fourth World Series title in 13 years after going without a title for 86 years.  Even in the first season without David Ortiz, the BoSox won another division title. Apparently, an early exit from the playoffs, at the hands of a very good Houston Astros team, was too much to bear. Scapegoat: Farrell.

For the Nationals, give them credit…they have been trying! Washington has been in the playoffs four times since 2012; unfortunately, they have not made it past the first round in any of the seasons. They tried with Baker this year and last year; they tried with Matt Williams in 2014; they tried with Davey Johnson in 2012…the result was the same: elimination in the Division Series.

I guess the Nationals thought it was Baker’s fault that Bryce Harper missed 51 games; that shortstop Trea Turner missed 64 games; that Adam Eaton, their projected leadoff hitter and catalyst for the offense, appeared in only 23 games before he went down for the season.  Scapegoat:  Baker!

So, what does a prospective manager need to do in order to keep his job? In the case of the Red Sox or Nationals, you had better get your team to the World Series, or you will wind up in the unemployment line.  Boston is pinning their hopes on Alex Cora. Washington? They are still looking. I just wonder how many prospective managers Washington has to interview until they find one that is crazy enough to try and fill Dusty Baker’s shoes…or Matt Williams’…or Davey Johnson’s.


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