Good morning, Camden Chatters.
The MLB hot stove has been quiet so far — and may continue to be quiet as teams hesitate to open the checkbooks in the middle of a pandemic — but there is some news today as the National Baseball Hall of Fame will release its 2021 ballot.
Don’t get excited, though. It’s, frankly, a pretty weak crop, at least by Hall of Fame standards. Aside from 14 holdovers from last year’s ballot, including former Orioles Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa, the potential newcomers for this year don’t include any surefire Hall of Famers. Baseball Reference compiled a list of some potential candidates: those who played at least 10 seasons, retired after the 2015 season, and had at least somewhat noteworthy careers. The official ballot won’t look exactly like this one, but will probably be similar. And, yeah, it’s not a very impressive group.
A few former Orioles pop on this list, including LaTroy Hawkins, who spent one year with the Birds amidst his 21-season pitching career, and...Kevin Gregg?? Wait, that Kevin Gregg? Is he really going to be on a HOF ballot? Also on the list are almost-an-Oriole-before-failing-a-physical Grant Balfour and somehow-never-an-Oriole A.J. Burnett, who was connected to the Birds in free agency or trade rumors approximately 80,000 times in his career because his wife lived in Baltimore.
Among other ex-Orioles who are newly eligible for the ballot but probably won’t make the cut: lefties Bruce Chen and Randy Wolf, first baseman Dan Johnson, and the man who was responsible for perhaps the greatest moment ever at Camden Yards, Delmon Young. Young amassed only 3.2 career WAR in 10 seasons and has had an extremely troubled off-field life, but man. If a single hit could make someone a Hall of Famer, he’d be a shoo-in.
A word on the awards - School of Roch
If you’re wondering which AL Rookie of the Year voter gave Ryan Mountcastle a third-place vote, it wasn’t Roch Kubatko, who selected Cleveland reliever James Karinchak with his No. 3 slot. Not sure I understand that one. I get that Mountcastle was only in the majors for half a season, but he still got considerably more playing time than a relief pitcher who threw 27 innings.
Is this player a free agent match for the Orioles? - Steve Melewski
Melewski looks at the possibility of signing Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim. Sure, why not? The Orioles could stand to upgrade at second or third base with a not-too-expensive, 25-year-old hitter. And if he turns out to be a bust, what have you lost?
This, that and the other - School of Roch
Here’s bonus Kubatko, because he’s one of the few who wrote anything over the weekend. He notes, among other things, that Cadyn Grenier has been bumped out of MLB.com’s top 30 O’s prospects list. I’d say it’s not exactly the ideal outcome for a guy taken with the No. 37 overall pick in Dan Duquette’s final draft.
Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your Orioles birthday buddies are 2007-08 righty Fernando Cabrera (39), 2010 infielder Julio Lugo (45), and the late Buster Narum (b. 1940, d. 2004), a right-hander from the 1963 Birds.
And today is the two-year anniversary of Mike Elias’ arrival in Baltimore, as the Orioles officially hired him as their executive vice president and general manager on Nov. 16, 2018. The Birds’ on-field record since then has been nothing to write home about — by design, basically — but the Orioles have made a ton of progress in Elias’ two years, infusing the organization not only with promising talent but with much-needed analytics that the club was desperately lacking beforehand. I look forward to seeing what the Orioles look like in another two years.