1/5 Hot Stove – Hall Of Fame Debate

vasgersian.jpgLooking at the list of Hall of Fame candidates this year it’s an interesting list filled with names that aren’t guaranteed first-ballot locks like Rickey Henderson was last year.  The list is filled with some great players of a generation, but to make the jump to the HOF, there’s a lot of subjectivity involved with the candidates.  It makes for the ultimate water cooler conversation.

I’ve been reading on the blogosphere about Bert Blyleven why he’s not a Hall of Famer, and I’m tired of it. Its way passed time this happens.

It is crazy that is has taken this long to recognize a guy with his accomplishments.
He is number-five all time in strikeouts, pitched for 22 years, won two World Series titles, and has 287 wins.  

I’m tired of reading about why he shouldn’t be in the HOF because he didn’t get 300 wins, or his winning percentage was around .500.  He is a HOF player, and his election is far over due.  Look at some of the winning percentages of pitchers elected to the HOF in the early days: Red Faber, Ted Lyons, Rube Marquard, and Eppa Rixey. These are not household names, but these guys were also around .500.  

I always hear the argument that because he missed the magical number of 300 wins, he’s not worthy.  I’m not convinced by that argument.  He didn’t hang around, like some players do, just to milk another few wins and get to 300 wins.

There are only four other pitchers with more career strikeouts than him.  This is no trivial accomplishment that can be brushed aside with the argument that he didn’t win 300.  There are Hall of Famers all around him on that list, from Nolan Ryan ahead of him to Walter Johnson behind him.  Bottom line is that he deserves to be honored in the HOF.

Santo.jpgThe merits of a HOF vote is a player’s accomplishment on the field, but for those who have impacted the game after their careers as well need to be honored for their combined accomplishments.

I’m saying this because Ron Santo needs to be recognized in the HOF in some capacity.  Based on his numbers and that he’s been involved in the game ever since he retired, I think he’s worthy of the honor  He embodies the Cubs, and what the Cubs spirit is, being such a part of his team’s local identity.  In some capacity, either as a player or announcer, he needs to be in the HOF.

Personally if I had a vote for the HOF, I would take into account not only stats, wins, and home runs, but I would also consider players make-up, personality and character.

Based on these criteria, I suggest that Alan Trammell is a Hall of Famer.  His stats don’t stack up against Cal Ripken, but then again, whose do?  He is a stand-up guy who played with integrity and heart.  He was a winning player, and now continues to serve the baseball community as a coach, manager and instructor. If my vote counted, he’d be in the HOF.

Make Sure to tune into the MLB Network tomorrow at 1pm ET.  We’ll be airing the Hall of Fame announcement live.  – Matt Vasgersian


1/4 Hot Stove – The Left Wing

Plesac.jpgWe have 90 days until Opening Day and the Matt Holliday situation is still unsettled.

St. Louis is a logical fit for him, but we are in 2010 and the deal still isn’t done.  The Cardinals need to find somebody to protect Pujols and Matt Holliday is that guy.  He can completely change the complexion for the Cardinals in the NL Central.  

With him they are the favorites to battle the Cubs for the Division crown.  Without him they are a questionable team with gaping holes in their line-up.

Dawson.jpgThe Jason Bay signing is interesting.  We know he will help improve an atrocious Mets offense, adding power and run production to a team starving for runs, but the Mets have so many other issues to deal with.  Their starting pitching is suspect with Johan Santana’s support staff of Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey

The key for the Mets is the same with or without Bay; they need to stay healthy.  If Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes can stay healthy, they look like a good team. But right now they look like a team full of what-if’s?

Something to look forward to besides the next blizzard is the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday at 1pm ET. 

I would be surprised if Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson aren’t voted into the HOF this year.  Blyleven had nearly 300 wins to go along with 3,701 strikeouts, and Dawson was one of the best players of his generation.  Deep down I’m pulling for these two to get in. – Dan Plesac

12/30 Hot Stove – New Years Resolutions from MLB Network

We’re coming up on our first anniversary on January 1, so it’s time for our MLB Network New Year’s resolutions. Here’s what some our talent will be asking for in 2010:

Harold Reynolds –   Trim the fat off of the fat cats.  The gap is too wide between the big clubs and the little clubs.  Look at the big free agents; they can only go three or four places: Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, and Angels.  This is not a trend I want to continue to see because it puts the beautiful job Bud Selig has done in jeopardy.

Matt Vasgersian
Grow to be the size of a real host.

Trenni Kusnierek  An all mid-market World Series!  Bring on the Twins and Brewers!
Hazel Mae Cover more team and player charity events.  It’s important to me to help them move forward and give their causes national exposure.

Greg AmsingerMy resolution is I will not say this for an entire year:  “Manny Being Manny.”


12/22 Hot Stove – Holiday Gifts from MLB Network

We asked some of our talent what gift they would like to give Major League Baseball this holiday season:


Harold Reynolds  To improve the All-Star Game.  First, take World Series home field advantage off the table. Finally, honor past greats like Ken Griffey Jr. this year in what could be his last game.

And while we’re giving out gifts, let’s start awarding Gold Gloves to outfielders by position. 


Hazel Mae  My gift is for MLB Network and it’s to attend our production meetings down the hall in-person as opposed to calling in from my office via “conference call”. (Harold Reynolds caught me!)


Matt Vasgersian – I’ll never again mention, Turn Ahead the Clock Night, summer of 1999. 


Greg Amsinger – Sideburns!  Mustaches are already prevalent. MLB players need to follow my lead and focus on their chops in 2010. Also mutton chops to the lip; they can distract a pitcher and throw them off their game.  


Matt YallofAn All-Star Game that does NOT determine home field advantage in the World Series. Best record gets home field. Simple and Smart. It’ a gift that keeps giving.


Trenni Kusnierek – One year’s supply of chips to go with Mitch Williams’ Wild Thing Salsa, laser hair removal for Vasgersian’s five o’clock shadow, and extra minutes for Jon Heyman’s cell phone plan.


Mitch Williams – My Presence!



12/16 Hot Stove – Breaking Down the Halladay-Lee Deal

There are no losers in this four team deal.  We have to praise all of the GMs in involved.

williams.jpgLet’s start with the Phillies.  Ruben Amaro Jr. was able to acquire perhaps the best pitcher in baseball and lock him up to a long term deal while trading Cliff Lee to the Mariners and re-stocking his farm system.  You have to give him credit.  He couldn’t lock up Cliff Lee long term so he made the move for Roy Halladay.  Great job!

Now onto the Mariners, where Jack Zduriencik has been quite busy this offseason.  First, he signs Chone Figgins and then he trades for Cliff Lee.  You now have to make them the favorites in the AL West with perhaps the best 1-2 punch in baseball with King Felix and Lee.

Halladay.jpgThe Blue Jays did what they wanted to do.  They were able to trade Halladay and they were able to get some top prospects in return.  Kyle Drabek was their target back in July and they finally got him.  They were also able to send Michael Taylor to the A’s for Brett Wallace, who will bolster their infield with his bat. 

We have winners all around after this deal.  It will be fun to see them all in action come next April.  Watch Hot Stove tonight at 6pm ET.-Mitch Williams

Click here to watch Wednesday night’s interview with Roy Halladay.


12/15 Hot Stove – Brotherly Love

Yallof Pic.JPGIt was only five years ago that the Phillies were stuck in the middle of the road…or the street. Broad Street, to be exact. Not yet a playoff team but certainly not a bunch of pushovers. The folks in South Philly had a beautiful new ballpark, 80-plus wins a year and a few stars on the rise. Yet it was a franchise few opposing players and fans believed in.


That was two general managers ago. Ed Wade was running the show back then. While Wade handed out some ill-advised contracts, he was steadfast in holding onto young talent like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard when he had a chance to “go for it” and possibly reach the playoffs. By staying the course, drafting fairly well, developing Minor Leaguers the right way and hiring baseball lifer Charlie Manuel to replace Philly icon Larry Bowa as manager, the Phillies were building a team that could win over and over and over.


When possible Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick took over for Wade, the Phils reached the promised land. When Ruben Amaro Jr. took over for Gillick, he continued to tweak a talented roster even “after” a World Series Championship. How novel an approach.


Raul Ibanez, Cliff Lee, Placido Polanco, Roy Halladay – the Phils get better with every move. The folks in the front office outdo themselves with every transaction.


With a top notch Spring Training facility, ‘ditto’ for the big league park, a few of the most talented and confident stars in the game, plus a sports crazy fan base, Philadelphia is now a city big leaguers want to play in.


Unless they’re on the visiting team.-Matt Yallof

12/14 Hot Stove – Pitchers Burning on the Stove

amsinger.jpgIf this three-team deal goes through with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee involved, it would make the Blue Jays big winners today.  Everyone knew the Blue Jays had to make a deal, and with what we’re hearing, they made a great decision.

Instead of taking a watered down deal from one team, they get to pluck a few of the best prospects from the Phillies’ and the Mariners’ farm systems.

What this deal sets up is the Mariners becoming the favorites in the AL West.  With Cliff Lee and King Felix, you have the best lefty/righty combo in the game.  Beckett and Lester, Beckett and Lackey, Sabathia and Burnett, are not going to dominate like Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee.

Lee.jpgCliff Lee gave the Phillies everything and more they could have expected last season.  The only thing I can think of is that Roy Halladay gives the Phillies the big dominant right-handed ace.  With lefties J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer in the rotation, Halladay can add some balance.

Like the Yankees making big moves last year, the Mariners and the Red Sox are emerging as the teams making noise this offseason.  

The only noise out of Anaheim has been the star players leavening.  The Angels are sitting back while Seattle is going after it.  The Angels are closing in on a deal with Hideki Matsui, replacing one aging slugger for another, which means Vladimir Guerrero will be out of Anaheim.

The John Lackey signing means two things for the Red Sox.  First you can all put your Jason Bay jerseys in a frame, because they’re a collectors’ items now.  With all the money spent on Lackey, I don’t think Bay is coming back to Boston.

Felix.jpgSecondly this gives the Red Sox six starters.  Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey will lead the way.  With Daisuke Matsuzaka you hope to get a bounce-back year.  This leaves the number-five spot for Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield, who was an All-Star last year.  Wakefield has always been a durable, “I know what I’m getting” guy, and the best number-five starter in the game.  

What this scenario does is open the door for Adrian Gonzalez to come to Fenway.  The depth in pitching allows Buchholz to be the chip that can bring in Gonzalez.  With Gonzalez’s power bat at first, they can platoon Jeremy Hermida with another guy – say pick up Dan Uggla – to fill the spot in left field. 

In between all the dealings between the East and West, the Cardinals are waiting to hear back from Matt Holliday.  They made a respectable offer, but there might be more riding on a Holliday deal.

The Cardinals need to keep Albert happy, because if he’s not happy with the direction of team, he will have options.  

Just imagine if Pujols tested the free agent waters? -Greg Amsinger

12/11 Hot Stove – Thing’s Things

williams.jpgThe Winter Meetings came and now their gone with only a few teams really making moves to help themselves going into 2010.  

Big surprise that the Yankees didn’t just sit back on their laurels and enjoy their Championship; they went out there and got the first real centerfielder they’ve had since Bernie Williams.  Curtis Granderson will be a dangerous player for them, especially in Yankee Stadium.

To try and climb out of the gutter in the AL East, the Orioles made a move.  By getting Kevin Millwood, the Orioles have a veteran guy who will help a young rotation mature.  Millwood learned from some of the greats in Atlanta when he was a young guy, and now he can pass his knowledge along to Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen.

The Phillies went out early – like signing Raul Ibanez last year – and got their guy at the hot corner.  Placido Polanco solidifies the powerful Phillies infield for the next three years.  I really thought Adrian Beltre was going to be the guy, but I guess they just thought he wasn’t consistent enough even though I think he’s plays good defense.  

Lindstrom.jpgThe Astros made a little noise by signing Pedro Feliz, who is an upgrade offensively and defensively from Geoff Blum. They also went out and traded for Matt Lindstrom.

Here’s the thing about Lindstrom:  I don’t know if they are planning to have him replace Jose Valverde, but he’s he same type of guy, just not as good.  He has a good fastball, but nothing to back it up with.  

On the Network today, we’ll have much more to talk about on Hot Stove at 6:00 p.m. ET.  Baseball’s Seasons 1993 is on at 4:00 p.m., and I’ll take a little look at it.  It was something of an eventful year for me. – Mitch Williams

12/9 Hot Stove – Winter Meetings Day Three

yaloff.jpgIt’s day three of the Winter Meetings and after surviving three long days there have been a few surprises.  The first surprise being that the Yankees were able to obtain a young, affordable, power-hitting centerfielder without parting with any player who had a significant impact on their championship-winning club. 

This is a shift in the old Yankees philosophy of just picking up big-name free agents.  The Yankees now do more than just spend.  They identify a need and fill it! Pronto!

As for the other team in New York, there has been little buzz.  The Mets are a team desperate to improve in many areas, yet to improve in any area.  The aggressiveness they showed last winter would come in handy this offseason.
Some people around here thought Randy Wolf would be a good fit for the Mets.  They didn’t get it done, and now one of my favorite players to chat with has a three-year deal to pitch in Milwaukee.  

Just as they were before the trade deadline, Roy Halladay trade rumors are swirling here in Indy, but surprisingly there has been no substantial rumors involving Adrian Gonzalez.  Padres new GM Jed Hoyer is either extremely discreet or he has decided to keep the face of the franchise in place.  

Last surprise, after three days of eating steaks, my cholesterol is still under 200!  Gotta run.  Almost time for dinner.  I’m thinking steak. Again. – Matt Yallof

12/7 Hot Stove – The Left Wing

Plesac.jpgWe finally get the Winter Meetings kicked off today, and with the cold setting in, it’s time for some deals to heat things up.  

I’m interested in a few key situations, and how they’ll pan out during the meeting.

First of all, the big fish, Roy Halladay.  With all the rumors swirling around lately, it seems like a deal is in the air, especially if he’s not going to accept a trade once the season begins.  

The Blue Jays can learn a lot from the Johan Santana deal a few years ago.  The Twins waited and then had to settle for the Mets offer which looking back was not the best offer on the table.  Instead of playing tug-of-war with the Yankees and Red Sox, they need to make a good quick decision.  We all know Roy’s got to go, but not getting the right prospect will return cost the Blue Jays big in the future.

Halladay.jpgI’m also interested in the Matt Holliday scenario.  If the Cardinals can’t sign Holliday, then who else is out there for the Cardinals to sign to protect Albert Pujols

Holliday has already proved he’s up to the task, so the Cardinals need to have a better plan if they decide to pass on Holliday.  Is there one out there?  I’m not so sure there is.

Then there is John Lackey, the only true ace available as a free agent.  In his career he’s proven himself as a big game pitcher, a number one-starter, and a durable arm.  What team out there won’t want to sign him?

Hot Stove is going to be jam-packed tonight – Braves Manages Bobby Cox and Cubs Manager Lou Piniella will join us together from Indianapolis.  The Braves have been busy in the offseason already, so we’ll have plenty to talk about with two of the greatest managers out there.

Hot Stove airs tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday live from the Winter Meetings headquarters in Indianapolis from 6-8pm ET. We’ll have interviews and team updates throughout each show. – Dan Plesac