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The Hall of Fame SS That was Nearly a Met



By Mike Silva ~ January 10th, 2012. Filed under: Hall of Fame.

The terms “Cincinnati legend” and “lifetime Cincinnati Red” were used to describe Barry Larkin yesterday after his election into the Hall of Fame. He also became the 48th member of the Hall to spend his entire career with one team. Born in Cincinnati, Larkin won the 1990 World Series, MVP in 1995, and become the first shortstop in baseball history with 30 steals and 30 home runs in a season for the home team.

What many forget is Larkin almost became a member of the Mets in July of 2000. With Rey Ordonez out for the season due to an injury, then GM Steve Phillips dealt top prospect Alex Escobar and two other prospects for Larkin. Because of his 10 and 5 rights, Larkin had to approve the deal and was granted 72-hours. A free agent at the end of the season, he was looking for a contract extension, something the Mets were unwilling to do since they still were committed to Ordonez for another 3 years and $17 million dollars and wanted to pursue Alex Rodriguez after that season. Larkin would eventually turn down the deal and remain in Cincinnati. The Mets would deal Melvin Mora to Baltimore for Mike Bordick, and a year later use Escobar as the centerpiece of the Roberto Alomar deal with Cleveland. Larkin would sign with the Reds for another three years and $27 million dollars.

The deal could have blown up for the Mets in a couple of ways. First, they would have traded a top prospect, albeit an overrated one, for one month of Larkin since he spent the entire month of September on the disabled list with finger and knee problems. Clearly, Larkin’s overall game was superior to Bordick, but he was 36 and in the decline phase of his career. It’s possible they still would have needed a shortstop because of Larkin’s injuries. Can anyone say Kyle Abbott?

Who knows, maybe Larkin battles through his aches and pains to help get the Mets past the Yankees in the World Series. He falls in love with New York and re-signs here after Alex Rodriguez becomes too expensive. The Mets then would have Larkin for the final 4 seasons of his career, trade Ordonez, and never acquire Alomar. The course of Mets and baseball history would have been changed.

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Larkin was picked 4th overall in the 1st round of the 1985 draft.

Selected before him was B.J. Surhoff (Brewers), Will Clark (Giants), and Bobby Witt (Rangers).

Barry Bonds was selected 6th that year by the Pirates and Rafael Palmeiro 22nd by the Cubs.

The Yankees selected Joey Cora (23rd) and the Mets drafted Gregg Jefferies (20th).

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If you use precedent, how does Larkin’s induction impact other shortstops going forward? Alan Trammell clearly deserves another look. I can’t see how someone fills out a ballot with Larkin, but fails to have Trammell.

Larkin was the better shortstop, as he collected more Gold Gloves, had an MVP, and was the first shortstop to enter the 30/30 club. Trammell had a period from 1983 to 1988 where he averaged 143 games played and hit .303, averaging 18 HRs and 74 RBI per season. Larkin never had that stretch where he played enough to tally those types of numbers.

Derek Jeter  is the only shortstop that surpasses the total numbers that Larkin and Trammell produced. I don’t have a problem with either candidacy, but I can’t see how both aren’t elected together. There is no logic to that thought process.

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Let me take an early look towards next year. I will continue to support Jack MorrisEdgar MartinezMark McGwireRafael PalmeiroTim Raines, and Jeff Bagwell.

I am going to re-visit Alan Trammell now that Larkin has been inducted. I believe Larkin’s inclusion has set a precedent at the position that must be addressed.

Fred McGriff is another candidate that I might re-assess, but I am still leaning towards a “no” vote.

First timer’s on the ballot include Barry BondsRoger ClemensCurt SchillingCraig BiggioSammy SosaKenny Lofton, and Mike Piazza.

I will support Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Piazza, and Sosa.

I will probably not support Curt Schilling because of the inconsistent win total and short period of dominance. Although the period from 1997-2004 is very compelling. Don’t forget the historic Game 6 performance against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.

Kenny Lofton compiled very good numbers. There are some that believe his career is very similar to Tim Raines, therefore, they both deserve to be included. It’s not a crazy argument, but Lofton was a star the first 5 to 6 years of his career and became a useful component player after that. Raines was a star for a decade. Both have seasons that break up their period of dominance. It’s a tough call, but I say no to Lofton.

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Jack Morris is knocking on the door of the Hall of Fame, and I believe he is going to gain induction before his 15 year term is up. Morris might need both of the remaining years, but he needs to close the 48-vote gap that currently exists.

Ken Rosenthal admitted on the MLB Network that he’s been voting “no” on Morris, but might reconsider because he doesn’t want to be one of the few guys that keeps him out when he is so close.

I notice that players tend to get in once they knock on the door ala Morris because of the proverbial “mob mentality.” Peer pressure gives people reason to throw logic to the side and vote with the masses. No one wants to live with the guilt they were the reason a player was denied such a prestigious honor. That is, unless said player was a jerk with the media or took a PED. As of now, Morris doesn’t appear to fall into either category.

I am not criticizing Rosenthal, but this is exactly why I wrote there needs to be more accountability and thoughts behind the writers vote. Voting for someone because they are close to election is too capricious for my taste.

Voting for Morris because he is close is a writer’s prerogative, but I find it to not be an acceptable thought process in filling out a ballot.

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How should we take the continued poor support of Edgar Martinez? Does this mean the DH has a way to go? Martinez received 36.5% of the vote, an increase from his 32.9% a year earlier, but I believe still very light.

How a player that has eight seasons of  BA over .300, OBP over .400, SLG over .500 for his career, which is more than Mickey Mantle, and doesn’t gain at least similar support to Lee Smith is bafflingEvery player with eight or more such seasons is in the Hall of Fame, with the exception of Barry Bonds, who is not eligible as of this writing. Martinez is also one of five players who have had more walks than strikeouts (with at least 1200 or more of each) while hitting .300. The others are Babe RuthFrank ThomasJimmie FoxxHank Aaron, and Chipper Jones.

There the voters need to be more educated on Martinez just as they were on Blyleven.

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Dale Murphy appeared on my Sunday show on 1240 AM WGBB.

I asked Murphy who he would support for the Hall of Fame if he had a vote.

“I think Barry Larkin it’s a matter of time. I think Jack Morris should go in. I think Lee Smith I do not have any understanding of why he’s not in. Here’s a guy for many years that is the major league leader in saves.”

Looks like Dale is right on Larkin and may see Morris get in next year.

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Don Mattingly collected 17.8% of the votes. I thought Bernie Williams would do better than his 9.6%. I expect Bernie to fall off in the next couple of years. Mattingly appears to have enough support to last the entire 15 years.

I think Donnie Baseball has a great chance of induction on the Veterans Committee, especially if he continues to do well as a manager.

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You can check out how the final ballot results here. 

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to The Hall of Fame SS That was Nearly a Met

  1. Stu B

    “(The Mets) wanted to pursue Alex Rodriguez after that season.”

    The lengths to which Steve Phillips went to publicly make excuses for not pursuing ARod would appear to belie that statement. “The team would be 24 and 1″ et al.

  2. Joe Wenzel

    “I will support Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Piazza, and Sosa.”

    Sosa was an outright product of steroids (he hit 20 homeruns in one month for God’s sake – a good number most players take a whole season to hit) – NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    Biggio and Piazza – YES.

    Bonds – I don’t adhere to the Chris (Mad Dog) Russo argument that he was a Hall of Famer before he cheated thus he should get in. Same goes with Clemens – NOOOOOOO.

    That’s like giving someone a Citizen of the Year (COY) Award – well the first 7 months of the year he helped found charity, worked with the homeless, started a soup kitchen, saved a drowning kid, BUT there were the 3 banks he robbed at gunpoint in August and that Meth Lab we found on his property…but we’ll overlook that and still give him the COY Award because he was a damn fine citizen before he robbed those banks….

  3. Brian

    Steve Phillips was told to spin A-Rod that way. The Wilpons had no intention of playing in that financial range in 2000. Also, coming off an NL Pennant, your penny wise and pound foolish owners refused to step on the gas to improve that team for the 2001 season- was the last time I paid for Mets tickets to Shea Stadium.

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