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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

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Wagner, by the way, is the alma mater of Beerleaguer's senior correspondent. Once in a blue moon, they'll slip into the NCAA Tourney, probably with more regularity than my 1-13; 10-17 Nittany Lions.

I don't know of many pro athletes from Wagner, but the much hated former Eagles and Jets coach Rich Kotite is a former Seahawk.

Toms River kid. They grow baseball players on trees down there.

sweet, a knuckleballer. its about time we had one of those.

J - aren't you supposed to let us get overly excited?

We just signed Wakefield with a 94mph fastball!

Now we can trade 2 SPs!

Even if some of these players from Mexico, Independent, and Japan don't pan out it at least shows that we're evaluating talent from outside the traditional means...it's a start.

if I were Commissioner for a Day, I would make every team carry a knuckleballer.

I am sooooo happy to see the Phils being creative about looking for talent. I'm happy to see them being creative about anything after years of hidebound inside-the-box "we've always done it this way" thinking.

unbelievable that the HOF Veterans' Committee declined again to nominate Ron Santo to the Hall. one of the five or six best 3B in history, and he's still on the outside looking in.

I'm much less broken up over Schmidt's buddy Jim Kaat (who deserves credit for longevity and defense but was seldom above average) and perennial also-ran Gil Hodges (no better - and arguably worse - than Norm Cash, but lucky enough to play in the 1950s) not making the cut.

I was listening to the XM Radio Dibble & Kennedy show and Dibble was furious Santo wasn't voted in by the vet committee.

I like the fact that the hall-of-fame is reserved for the elite, but there are some in that don't belong and others that do...just like anything else in the world it's an imperfect system.

Did I read the opening right or does this kid only have one pitch right now?

I wanted to bring up something from last post (other than the rejuvenated interest in Condrey!)...RSBs comment that the Phillies are the only team scouring the Independent league for projects.

This could be fascinating, sort of like a scout version of Moneyball where instead of sorting through the database, you scout *all* levels of baseball, including the independent leagues.

Somehow, I think it would be tough in this age for a player to go unoticed through age 23, but who knows? In any case, it is interesting and represents at least some original thinking.

ae, we disagree. Santo does not belong in the Hall. If you compare him to his contemporaries (1960-1974), he wasn't even the best 3B of his era.

IMO, the only reason he's even considered is because of his power #s, of which Wrigley Field had a lot to do with. No Wrigley - no Hall #s.

Away from Wrigley he hit .257 with a .406 SLG. Voters, both writers and current Hall members, realize this.

Now, we just need to find someone in the Indy Leagues with a good 'gyroball' and we're all set!

I'm afraid that I have to agree with AWH on Santo. I think that the power numbers coupled with the sympathy vote have created the Santo Camp. His best bet is to get in as an announcer at this point.

AWH, I'm guessing you're arguing that Robinson was better. he is undoubtedly the gold standard for 3B defensively, but the two do not compare offensively - even adjusting for park, Santo has a 125 OPS+, compared to 104 for Robinson. (it's funny that you bullet out Santo's .406 away SLG as a reason to exclude him from the hall, since it's higher than Robinson's career SLG (.401).) and while Robinson was little above average as a hitter, Santo was a fine defensive 3B who won five GG of his own. I would obviously not argue that he was in the Brooks Robinson class, but we're not talking about Howard Johnson either.

I'm curious - where would you rank Santo among all 3B, all time? personally, I can't see putting him lower than 6th. but even if I'm generous to your POV - 8th? 10th? do you really think George Kell was better? Freddie Lindstrom? Bill James ranks Santo 6th, and says he "towers over the real standard of the real Hall of Fame." I think that's something of an overstatement (although a lot less than you think), but if you compare Santo to all 3B in the 120+ year history of baseball, I have a hard time seeing how he doesn't easily break into the top ten. and if you're one of the ten best players at a position in more than a century, you belong in the Hall of Fame. it's as simple as that.

so I'm wondering - do you guys think Billy Williams should get kicked out of the Hall of Fame? Ernie Banks, too? Ryne Sandberg? get rid of Koufax (3.00 ERA away from Dodger) and Drysdale (3.44 away ERA)? Catfish Hunter (3.92 away ERA)? Yaz only slugged .422 away from Fenway - obviously a mistake to induct him.

Let's not forget that Santo was playing in an era when a .406 slugging percentage was above average, even in Wrigley!

And so what, the guy was only the *second* best 3B of his era.

It is ironic that James likes Santo so much but he falls short in a number of the Hall Standards and Monitor #'s.

I like your examples ae, except for Hunter. He was a mistake.

I would put him in.

Gillick has to be credited for initiating a new approach within the organization, without a doubt - but not without certain reservations, at the same time.

He inherited a team with a weak farm system, and has decided to do whatever he can to create more options at the minor-league level, rather than just sit and wait with his hands tied for a few prospects to emerge from the recent drafts. I hate to use this term, but it's admirably 'proactive' (ack, sorry) and to say the least, an unusual phenomenon in the Phillies' typically rigid, uncreative organizational procedures.

However, I worry about all this being overdone. I see Gillick's idea of low-budget savvy in application to the major-league roster, and I begin to wonder if this is being done out out of a certain necessity, in deference to the contracts of Utley and Myers and the looming Big One for Howard - or if Gillick isn't perhaps a bit carried away with the notion of this heroic scrap-heap jackpot, when he *could* be more adequately and aggressively providing for the major-league roster.

In short, what I'm saying is: going after marginal talent for minor leagues - good. Going after marginal talent for major leagues - not so good.

PS - Ron Santo is no HOFer. Spare us the comparisons to the undeserving players already in there. I am not an advocate of lowering the bar further and further, and saying, well, if *this* one is in, you have to let *that* one in! What hokum.

RSB, it has nothing to do with the players already in the hall. it has to do with there simply not being better 3B than Santo. if, after well over a century of organized baseball, a player is one of the five or six best at his position (and not by some insignificant margin), he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, or else that institution doesn't have any significance.

I'm going to quote Bill James again, just because he argued this point very well: "After the Hall of Fame has already honored the 30th-best and 43rd-best players at the position, does it degrade the Hall of Fame to then include the sixth-best? Does it not, in fact, enhance the integrity of the honor, to show that the institution is capable of some minimal consistency in its selections?"

(his whole mini-essay on Santo is very good, I strongly recommend reading it on Amazon.com - just use the "search inside" function for Ron Santo.)

I strongly disagree with using the criteria of 'at his position' to determine HOF credentials. Dick Allen has better overall numbers than Santo, but who has ever blown the trumpet for him? What about guys like Andre Dawson, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, who were far better players than Santo? Why should they be penalized because of the wealth of talent 'at their position', while Santo should be hoisted on a pedestal because there were so few good third basemen? Even Billy Boy can't back up this sort of ground rule with anything but the bias of questionably relevant comparison.

1. Dick Allen was a defensive trainwreck and played 150 more games at 1B than 3B (he played less than 40% of his career at third) - not a valid comparison. also, I think there's a decent case for Allen in the Hall, although his poor defense, relatively short career, and general perception as a malcontent (regardless of whether or not that perception is valid) make his case a non-starter.

2. Dawson, Evans, and Rice all played in a vastly different era of baseball. comparing numbers from the 1970s/1980s to the 1960s is like comparing numbers from the 70s/80s to the 90s/00s - you have to make a significant correction for time period.

3. Dawson was not a far better player than Santo. Dawson was a fine defender, had fair power, and could steal bases (although not even that well, only 74% success rate) - he didn't hit for average and he didn't draw walks, and as a result, he never got on base. his career OBP is .323 - that is incredibly, incredibly low. his OBP was above the league average in exactly 7 of the 21 seasons he played. it's not just some minor sabermetric quibble, it's a glaring hole in his quality as a player.

4. Evans and Rice are also not far better players than Santo. Rice was an incredibly poor baserunner, and is 6th on the all-time GDP list (with around 8200 AB - all five players above him had over 11000 AB). Evans I actually think is a little underrated, mainly because he did a lot of things pretty well, instead of any one thing really well - which is why he's not in the Hall of Fame. considering that Rice and Evans have career park-adjusted OPS+ numbers barely higher than Santo's, the fact that Santo played a less potent offensive position (pre-1970s) is a valid issue.

5. my point in bringing up the relative level of talent at a position is that if Player X is one of the five or six best players at his position (and again, not by an insignificant margin), the point of the Hall is to honor people like him. I would say that your perception of the role of a third baseman (or, to put it another way, what makes a player a good third baseman) is at fault here. the wealth of talent at a position is a valid criteria because it defines what baseball expects a third baseman (or a catcher, or a shortstop) to produce. we don't judge Ozzie Smith's validity as a Hall of Famer by comparing his offensive production to Babe Ruth because that would be ridiculous. by the same token, you compare Ron Santo to a "typical" 3B, not to a typical corner outfielder.

6. not that Bill James needs me to defend him, but his rankings aren't based on "questionably relevant comparison[s]." they're based in large part on Win Shares, which I am pretty sure is a generally accepted technique for comparing baseball players.

7. yes, I really do enjoy arguing about stuff like this - probably a little too much.

RSB, I posted something along those lines, but in the wrong place. I said...


I get the impression that Gillick has thought three moves ahead of the labor agreement. This kind of management is something I expect from Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner, and it's straight out of the "We're good, but how can we be great?" management school, where we are prudent with costs and will consider other options than the CW (Brian Westbrook).

All-Star talent plus hungry, competent, and cheap talent is a much more intriguing mix than mediocre and overpaid talent.

Nevertheless, the game is still played in between the lines.

And finally, RSB, if you search YouTube for a user named "DickAllenHOF", you'll see there is a movement out there, however small it may be. Some great, classic clips on there, too. Love the Channel 17 stuff and a great one from Harry the K on the last game of 1975.

Mike H. - wow, thanks!!! What amazing footage. That Channel 29 intro from 1985 - Christ, it all comes right back! And Harry Kalas from 1975, so young and high-voiced. Incredible. You made my day with that heads-up.

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