GIVING A DASH OF HOPE TO ALL THE GUYS WITH .320 CAREER OBPS
“If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re eventually going to get in. It was well worth the wait. I can’t really describe the elation when my family and I got the call.”
-Newly elected Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, after making the Hall on his ninth try.
“Well, I shed some tears today. I was nervous today and I was happy before the announcement. I was optimistic. For some reason, I slept better last night than I have in the last eight years. I probably won’t feel the magnitude of it for a couple of days. I’m still kind of light in the stomach. My daughter and my wife showed a lot of emotion when I got the phone call. Of course, I tried to keep myself contained.”
“I’ve been patient over the years. My mom always said, it’s going to happen, it’s inevitable, just be ready for when it happens.”
“I felt a little more optimistic about this year and wanted to share a few things at that gravesite. It meant a lot to me to get out there, get that off my mind. It alleviated a lot of the nervousness I was starting to encounter.”
-Dawson, on visiting the graves of relatives on the day he was elected. (Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com)
HE KEPT THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SALIVA IN HIS CLUBHOUSE LOCKER
“I think his career, his record, the way he comported himself on the field-with the one exception-all shows that he was a Hall of Fame player. I think the fact that he’s where he’s at right now, I think everybody would agree he’s a Hall of Fame player; he just didn’t get in the first time. And for that, I’m disappointed, because I think there’s something special about going in on your first ballot.”
–Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, on Roberto Alomar falling short of election to the Hall of Fame.
“What can you do? It’s out of my hands now. I’m disappointed, but I feel good. Sometimes the writers have reasons not to vote for you, so you just have to deal with the situation. I had a lot of votes.”
–Roberto Alomar on falling short his first time on the ballot.
“I don’t subscribe to the fact that, first-time eligible, there’s anything sanctimonious about it. I think that if he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a Hall of Famer. It doesn’t depend on what round, what vote you go to.”
-Former MLB general manager Pat Gillick
“I called to tell him not to worry about me. We have to keep moving on. He felt really sorry about it, and I didn’t want him to feel that way. He thought that, because of the incident, I didn’t make it. But enough is enough-it’s nobody’s fault. We’ll move on with life, and we’re still friends.”
-Alomar, on John Hirschbeck, the recipient of his legendary saliva.
“What else can it be? I can’t believe it, because everyone thought he was going to be in. These days, you can’t drop the ball in any shape or form. If the writers are going to make an example out of Robbie, they’d better do it for everybody else. That was weak. The spitting incident was ugly, but it was just a moment in the career of a guy who never did anything before or after. It’s not like he’s a guy who’s been in and out of jail every week.”
-Former MLB catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., on the impact of the spitting incident.
“With all my respect to Roberto Clemente, Tony Perez, Rod Carew, everyone else, he is the best player we ever had from Latin America, no question about it.”
–White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, on Alomar and his not getting into the Hall.
“He was as close to a natural as you could see. He really didn’t have to take batting practice, he really didn’t have to take infield [practice]. He just went out there and did it. Robbie was a real thrill to watch, and I don’t think anybody that followed baseball or followed the Blue Jays back in the early ’90s ever came away without a memory.”
-Beeston (Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com)
MARCHING TOWARDS COOPERSTOWN ONE E-MAIL AT A TIME
“I think you are wrong. In 1988, the Twins did have a great year, winning 91 games and I pitched with a sore shoulder all season long. I did suck that year but I fought though the season.”
-Former Twins starter Bert Blyleven, in an e-mail response to comments from Murray Chass.
“Don’t put me down for a few bad seasons! Having the opportunity to play a kid’s game for a long time is reward enough, but my career stats are Hall of Fame stats! Also, Andre Dawson’s career is Hall of Fame material, as well as many other former players.”
-Blyleven, in that same e-mail.
“I hit against him, and if there was a finer pitcher than he was then I don’t know who it was. I only went to bat maybe 10 or 15 times [against him]. I don’t think I ever got a hit off him. But he was quite a pitcher. I know that he didn’t win 20 games [every year] but sometimes you don’t need to win 20.”
-Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, on Blyleven
“As I sit here, it’s awful to think about five votes. I feel for him that he has to wait another year. Five votes are very hard to swallow.”
-Newly minted Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, on Blyleven falling short of the Hall.
HALL OR NO HALL, IT’S NO FUN TO BE UNFAVORABLY COMPARED TO KIRBY PUCKETT
“It’s very hard to say. I don’t know if I can say I’ll make it. I need to see next year, or the following year, how much improvement is there. But in the near term, this argument about the DH looks like it will be around a while.”
-Former Mariners DH Edgar Martinez, on not getting elected on his first time on the Hall of Fame ballot
“No, I did not vote for Edgar. He’s very, very close but, for me, if I’m going to vote for a full time DH who played very little in the field during his career, his numbers have to be astronomical. And Edgar’s 2,247 hits and 309 homers just aren’t high enough for a guy who didn’t contribute defensively and wasn’t a threat on the bases. And I don’t mean this to sound overly critical, because there’s no question Edgar was one of the most dominant bats during his time, but his postseason numbers aren’t overly impressive, either. To me, a borderline Hall of Fame guy can cross the threshold with October feats, such as what Kirby Puckett did for the Twins.”
-Reporter Scott Miller of CBSsportsline.com on not voting for Martinez.
“Two-thirds of the games he started were as the DH, and that is more than 70 percent. If I am going to recognize him as a Hall of Famer, he needs to have overpowering statistics in his career, and in my opinion, [Martinez] just doesn’t have the same numbers as other guys that are not in.”
-Foxsports.com columnist Tracy Ringolsby, on not voting for Martinez.
“Obviously, I would have loved to have gotten more votes the first time around. But I don’t see it as a terrible thing. I had a pretty good idea it wasn’t going to happen the first time. We’ll see what happens the next few years, if I can increase some votes.”
-Martinez (Larry Stone, Seattle Times)
THE FIRST TIME ANYONE CALLED PLAYING IN THE FENWAY INFIELD COMFORTABLE
“A pillow contract is basically, you lay down, it’s comfortable, when you wake up in the morning, it’s soft, it’s there, but it’s not there with you all the time. That’s a one-year contract. It’s a pillow. You use it for a little bit, and you go on.”
–Adrian Beltre‘s agent Scott Boras, on the one-year deal with a player option his client signed with the Boston Red Sox.
“Sometimes, when you’re very familiar with the game from an evaluation standpoint, you’re going to make decisions you really trust. The hardest part of baseball today with transitioning to general manager is the economics of the game. It’s much like the evaluation of the game. You grow comfortable with the decision-making, and when you’re going to go out and make what I call a real specialized evaluation, you’re prepared to take on a trust in your evaluation of the player and do something the market would not normally do.”
“When you have a player in an injury year, how often do you have four teams calling you offering three-year contracts? That doesn’t happen too often. That says there was recognition by a number of teams that wanted him.”
-Boras, on the offers he fielded for Beltre.
“We think Fenway is a fit for Adrian. It’s hard to emphasize just how much Safeco deflates offensive performance for right-handed power hitters. It’s really a tough place to hit.”
-Theo Epstein, on the Beltre signing.
ADRIAN! ADRIAN! ADRIAN!
“It depends if he becomes available. Obviously we love Adrian Gonzalez. Everyone loves Adrian Gonzalez. I scouted the guy when he was in high school, when he was in San Diego and I lived out there. I saw him a number of times. It’s obvious. My two-year-old son can tell you he’s a great player now, but Jed Hoyer is out there now, and Jed is a really bright guy and he understands what kind of an asset Adrian Gonzalez is.”
-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on his interest in Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
“A lot of it depended on the marketplace. I think we accurately gauged early on that there was no way we were going to get Matt Holliday for the price that we thought was right-maybe not at all. And if we did find out, it would probably be into January, which would hamstring the whole rest of our offseason. By the time the Winter Meetings got here, we decided that he wasn’t going to be in play for us. The Jason Bay thing, there was just some stuff in the history of the negotiations that we determined would eventually preclude us from signing him. Taking those two guys off the board, we had to decide the best way to rebuild the club and the best way to keep competing.”
-Epstein, on how his offseason unfolded.
“He’s one of the best players in the game, and he’s on a great contract. He’s under control for two more years. I’m sure they’re going to try to sign him. They don’t have any long-term commitments out there-they hardly have any commitments at all. They’re going to sit down and take a good hard look at signing him. If they don’t, and they decide they want to do so, they have four opportunities to do so. This winter, the trade deadline, next winter, or the trade deadline in 2011.”
-Epstein, on Adrian Gonzalez.
“In our opinion, this is just not a guy that they’re going to move this winter and they may not move, ever. If they are going to move him, it’s probably more likely to be next winter or the trade deadline after that. I don’t think we took ourselves out of the potential acquisition of any great player by the moves that we made this winter. At the same time, I don’t think it would have been fruitful to hold your breath and stomp your feet and hope that someone trades you a great player.”
“I know how we’re going to be really good in a couple of years, because I really believe in our elite players in the farm system-it’s just going to take them a couple of years to get up here. Our pre-prime players will still be in their prime then. But we were really focused on this period in between, and trying to figure out a way that we could continue to compete at a really high level so that nobody noticed we were going through a bit of a transition period.”
-Epstein (Ian Browne, MLB.com)
“Right now, it’s hard for me to live in the area that I made my entire career. We’ll go outside to a restaurant, and people say, ‘I can’t believe you are going to go away. You don’t want to leave, right?’ It’s like they are so used to seeing me there. I know it’s going to end this year, but I am an Oriole always, you know that.”
-Former Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora, who lives in Bel Air, Maryland. (Dan Connolly and Jeff Zriebec, Baltimore Sun)
“I agreed to do it because it was an easier transition to the big leagues for Carlos at the time. He also had the ability to throw out runners from center field, and I moved over to left. But after Carlos got hurt, I moved back to center, and when Carlos came back, I didn’t want to move back to left so I stayed in center. Of course, when I got to arbitration after the season, the first thing they brought up at the hearing was that I’d moved to left and wasn’t worth as much.”
-Free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon, on his move to left field with the Royals when Carlos Beltran came to the big leagues. (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)
“He’s obviously more productive against right-handed pitching, but he’s had productive years against left-handed pitching-and a lot of non-productive years. My job is to try to get him to feel as comfortable as possible, without forcing it. I don’t know what he’s done in the past, but I’d really like to get a sense of his mentality against left-handed pitching.”
–Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, on new center fielder Curtis Granderson‘s (in)ability to hit left-handers. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)
“Jose was 18. I was 23. He’s Dominican and didn’t speak one word of English. I’m Canadian and didn’t speak one word of Spanish. Someone grabbed me when we got called up and said, ‘Can you make sure (Reyes) gets to and from the ballpark every day?’ Then we’d walk to the ballpark and not say one word, because we couldn’t. We’d play the game, shower up, and I’d say, ‘Ray-Ray, you ready?'”
-New Mets left fielder Jason Bay, on getting to know Jose Reyes playing in Port St. Lucie. (John Tomase, Boston Herald)
“It was frustrating. I was expecting to be an everyday player, but it just didn’t happen. … There’s no doubt when I played, it wasn’t pretty. There are no excuses performing like I did, but I have been an everyday player my whole life, and the whole situation took me by surprise… Something will come along; it always does. And if it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be.”
-Free-agent DH Aubrey Huff (Dan Connolly and Jeff Zriebec, Baltimore Sun)
“It’s better to have a good day than rehash the same old thing. It was lovely out there. I don’t answer the phone on Hall of Fame day. I’d rather go fishing.”
-Former Twins starter Jack Morris, on not being elected to the Hall of Fame.
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.