Dan Schlossberg's Baseball Blog: Cooperstown candidates • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s Baseball Blog: Cooperstown candidates

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New Hall of Famer Bobby Cox with protege Fredi Gonzalez

New Hall of Famer Bobby Cox with protege Fredi Gonzalez

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Monday’s announcement that three former managers were elected to the Hall of Fame by unanimous vote continues to resonate at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez revealed that he drove to the meetings with Bobby Cox, his predecessor, and faces another six-and-a-half hour drive home.

During that drive, Gonzalez said, he and Cox will be talking baseball — past, present, and future.

The future is bright for both the Braves, the youngest team in the National League, and Cox, who will join Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre on Induction Day in Cooperstown next July 27.

Cox said here that he hopes to share the podium with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who combined for five Cy Young Awards and a World Series MVP while helping the manager finish in first place for 14 consecutive seasons, a pro sports record.

With 355 wins, more than any living pitcher, Maddux is considered a shoo-in — maybe even the first unanimous selection ever given a player.

Tom Glavine's resume makes him a powerful Cooperstown candidate

Tom Glavine’s resume makes him a powerful Cooperstown candidate

But Glavine has some detractors, perhaps electors who remember his pitiful performance with the Mets at the tail-end of his career.

Voters who study the record shouldn’t hesitate to list Glavine, who won more games than any lefthander in baseball history other than Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, and Eddie Plank.

Glavine was the No. 1 pitcher on the Atlanta staff for the pennant-winning teams in 1991 and 1992, before Maddux signed as a free agent, and would have remained in that role for years to come. He had five 20-win seasons, three more than Maddux, and chose the finale of the 1995 World Series for the greatest Fall Classic pitching performance after Don Larsen’s 1956 no-hitter.

For those who forget, the only hit he yielded was a bloop single by Tony Pena to start the top of the sixth.

Glavine’s five 20-win seasons stand out because half of the 10 living 300-game winners had less. They include Phil Niekro and Randy Johnson (3 each), Maddux and Nolan Ryan (2 each), and Don Sutton (1). He finished with 305 victories but would have had many more had he not jumped from Atlanta to the arch-rival Mets.

Tom Glavine won two Cy Youngs and a World Series MVP award

Tom Glavine won two Cy Youngs and a World Series MVP award

On the crowded Cooperstown ballot, which has 10 spaces to be filled, one writer noted that he could actually endorse 17 players.

Even for those not inclined to vote for such steroids suspects as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, several names leap off the page — none so much as Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Other strong candidates include Frank Thomas, eligible for the first time this year, and Craig Biggio, who just missed last year.

Also on the ballot, and campaigning hard for himself here, is Jack Morris, facing Jack Morrishis 15th and final year of eligibility. He was a big-game pitcher, to be sure, but did not win as many as Mike Mussina, on the ballot for the first time, or either Jim Kaat (283 wins) or Tommy John (288), both relegated to consideration by the Veterans Committee.

Bert Blyleven, who won more often than Morris, squeezed into Cooperstown in his final year, as did Jim Rice, never popular with the writers charged with voting for him. But Morris figures to have trouble garnering the needed 75 per cent of the vote because of the huge names ahead of him.

In fact, anyone not named Maddux and Glavine may have a tough time, especially after the writers chose no one last year.

Long-time Houston Astros announcer Milo Hamilton, who still does his weekly

Long-time broadcaster Milo Hamilton has strong opinions on what players are Hall of Famers

Long-time broadcaster Milo Hamilton has strong opinions on what players are Hall of Famers

AstroLine show at age 87, is pushing Biggio and former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell. But if Bagwell gets in, what about Fred McGriff, who had as many home runs (493) as Lou Gehrig?

Although many voting writers disagree, Hamilton says he does not consider Thomas or former catcher Mike Piazza to be deserving Cooperstown candidates.

Thomas, a two-time MVP with more than 500 home runs and a resume that shows more walks than strikeouts, is believed to be a strong contender in his first year on the ballot. Piazza made a strong showing last year in his first ballot appearance.frankthomas

Player results will be announced in a press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York on Jan. 8.

Other thoughts:

Mark Trumbo, the slugger sent to Arizona by the Angels in a 3-team trade yesterday, should form a valuable 1-2 punch with Paul Goldschmitt, runner-up in the National League MVP voting last year . . .

TrumboRoy Halladay’s retirement, announced here, was no surprise since his shoulder is shot after his heavy workload finally caught up with him . . .

To fix the spring training scheduling logjam caused by having 15 teams in both Florida and Arizona, the Milwaukee Brewers are strongly considering returning to the Sunshine State — thus restoring the Grapefruit League to 16 clubs and leaving the Cactus League with 14 . . .

Other likely spring training moves coming soon are the Houston Astros, unhappy in their shabby surroundings at Osceola County Stadium, and the Washington Nationals, considering building a new ballpark in Kissimmee and abandoning out-of-the-way Viera . . .

Writers milling around the winter meetings pressroom long for the good old days when owners like Bill Veeck (White Sox) and Ted Turner (Braves) would announce big, unexpected trades in the middle of the night, usually after returning from parties that involved lots of imbibing . . .

The New York Yankees bagged two terrific free agents in Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury but will not be able to replace Robby Cano, who has the ability to become the best player in the American League. Seattle needs much more than Cano but seems on the road to respectability despite the absurdity of the Cano contract.

Robinson Cano is getting used to signing big contracts (Photo www.rapbasement.com )

Robinson Cano is getting used to signing big contracts (Photo www.rapbasement.com )

 

 

 

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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