Giants

Pete Rose reaches the Hail Mary moment in Hall of Fame quest

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Pete Rose reaches the Hail Mary moment in Hall of Fame quest

So Pete Rose has written a letter to the Hall of Fame asking to have his name placed on the ballot for potential inclusion into Cooperstown, which tells me one thing.

Rose believes that the old line about insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result from the previous ones – is wrong.

It tells me another, though. Rose has reached the Hail Mary moment in his hope of being inducted before his death, if ever. His fear that he would be lost to the public’s waning interest in history is being realized.

In going to the Hall of Fame directors, according to a letter obtained by Yahoo’s Tim Brown, Rose has decided that the powers in Major League Baseball proper, as in Commissioner Rob Manfred, et. al., are no longer interested in him in that way, and see almost no overwhelming financial considerations that would cause them to change their minds. We know this because he already appealed to Manfred nine months ago and was, as they like to say when the phrase “told to choke himself” seems impolite, rebuffed.

In other words, the people who run Major League Baseball don't want there to be any way that Rose can become a Hall of Famer, have said so pretty clearly, and fully expect the Hall of Fame to understand those wishes.

The Hall of Fame understands those wishes. Trust me, they are crystal clear on them.

Rose, of course, has nothing more to lose at this point than to appeal to the Hall of Fame. That is the nature of the hail mary – “We’ve tried everything else, so what the hell.” It’s a perfectly valid late-game strategy that almost never works, but it is also a valid late-game strategy dictated by the absolute lack of alternatives.

These are raucous times in sports, as in America itself, and players are speaking out on all manner of causes, wrestling at least tentatively with the great issues of the day. Pete Rose, though, is none of those issues. He is an item of interest for a decreasing number of old seamheads in a culture whose interest in the game is increasingly defined by their local rooting interests and fantasy teams. Rose is a topic of discussion only when he makes himself one, as he is doing here, and though he is not to be faulted for making his case, he is making it to the militantly unconvertible, and there is no natural constituency upon which he can appeal with any hope of relief.

Old voters? They long ago accepted, if grudgingly, the Hall of Fame’s right to determine the contents of its ballots. Old Reds and Phillies fans? Rose hasn’t played in 30 years. Old baseball executives? They’re the ones who kicked Rose out to begin with.

And young voters, fans or executives? Frankly, there is no evidence that his is a cause that any of them seem interested in taking up.

Should Rose be on the ballot? Yes, because denying history only means that you approve of lying. The Hall of Fame may fancy itself of a temple fit only for the worthy, and enough voters who have refused to accept Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, but it is not that. It is the history of baseball with rooms and a lease, and it should include all its history.

This would mean, of course, that all deeds from all miscreants throughout that history be recounted along with their triumphs, from the color line on down. The Hall of Fame, however, isn’t interested in selling ignominy. It’s fine with Rose being out, its members are fine with him being out, its voters largely don’t care either way, and the public skews younger and less interested with every passing year.

In other words, this is probably Pete Rose’s last chance, he is willing to take it because he has run out of other ideas and is rapidly losing the time to think of anything else, and based on the people to whom he is appealing, it is no real chance at all. Rose has always tried to transcend the politics of baseball from his very beginnings as a player, and has failed at this last thing because everything is politics in the end. His history, the thing he has to cling to the most to endorse his candidacy, is the very thing that crushes him in the end.
 

Reds, Rangers had Derek Holland interest before he re-signed with Giants

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Reds, Rangers had Derek Holland interest before he re-signed with Giants

The Giants brought back starting pitcher Derek Holland on a one-year deal on Monday, which could be the start of more additions to the pitching staff.

Well, the team did make a pitching hire on Tuesday, but in the baseball operations department: hiring Matt Daniels as their coordinator of pitching analysis.

But back to Holland ...

The 31-year-old boasted solid numbers in 2018, with a 3.57 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 171.1 innings with the orange and black. And it turns out the former Ranger also received interest this offseason from his previous team and the Reds.

The Reds made a few pitching moves this offseason including losing free agent Matt Harvey to the Angels. Pitcher Homer Bailey also said his farewells in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, so starting pitching was certainly on the team's to-do list. It's on every team's to-do list, but you get the point.

NBC Sports Bay Area has learned the Rangers had interest in him in a possible reliever role, but bowed out in the end. Keeping him in the NL West would appear may be more beneficial to the lefty than the high-powered AL West anyway.

During the interview with MLB Network, Holland also took a few moments to talk about the man of the hour, or the man of the offseason, Madison Bumgarner.

MadBum has been a constant in trade talks for the Giants, but at the moment Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is keeping him around. 

Holland must be pretty happy about that.

How Giants' park dimensions, location can help free agent recruiting

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How Giants' park dimensions, location can help free agent recruiting

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Giants officials have grumbled about the impact their home ballpark has on negotiations with free agents.

It’s no secret that sluggers do not want to play 81 games at Oracle Park, and the Giants have been kept from large portions of the position player market over the past decade. 

Farhan Zaidi will have to figure out a way to build an offense for his new park, but when it comes to another set of free agents, he’s not shying away from the dimensions at Third and King.

Multiple agents for free agents pitchers have mentioned this winter that Zaidi is using the pitcher-friendly park as one of his main selling points, and Zaidi said that’ll be an emphasis going forward. 

“Especially for guys looking for short-term deals, it’s very attractive,” Zaidi said at the Winter Meetings. “It’s a platform for guys coming off down years to come in and be productive, help us win games, and then also set themselves up well going forward.”  

Giants pitchers had a 3.62 ERA at home last season but it jumped to 4.29 on the road. A year earlier, they were third in the NL with a 3.73 home ERA, but ranked 11th on the road at 5.34.

The ballpark can be a pitcher’s best friend, hiding issues for even the best on the staff. When the Giants engaged in trade talks about Madison Bumgarner this winter, you can bet executives on the other side of the table brought up the 4.97 ERA on the road last season, which was more than three runs above his home ERA of 1.63.

Tony Watson, another potential trade chip, saw his ERA jump 2.46 runs when he got away from Oracle Park. 

Zaidi will have to deal with those issues when negotiating with other teams. But the flip side of that is an ability to use the park as a major selling point for free agents looking for a soft landing spot.

“We’ve found that, for players that have been in the National League West and have played a lot of games at (Oracle Park), it is a draw,” Zaidi said. “They know how energetic the crowd is and what a fun atmosphere it is. Any place you can look for an advantage in recruiting, you try to have that be part of your game plan. For pitchers looking to come here, to pitch in a friendly environment is certainly something we’re going to look to take advantage of.”

Zaidi hopes to add at least one more starter to the mix this offseason, perhaps another reclamation project like Derek Holland. While Holland’s ERA was virtually similar at home and on the road in his first season with the Giants, there were some big differences in the underlying numbers. His walk rate was far higher on the road and he allowed 14 homers in road games as opposed to just five at Oracle Park. 

Holland also has given plenty of credit to pitching coaches Curt Young and Matt Herges and catcher Buster Posey, and the Giants use that as a draw, too. But the ballpark is the easiest sell, in part because it’s guaranteed to always be there. Lineups and coaching staffs will change, but the Giants have no plans to alter the dimensions of their outfield, making their permanent home an ideal spot for any type of pitcher. 

Perhaps this will allow the Giants to stay away from the types of massive contracts they have given to the likes of Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Mark Melancon, knowing that lesser pitchers can take a massive step forward at Oracle Park. If the Giants are able to consistently do that, they’ll be able to save their resources, which will be needed.

They’ll always need to overpay to get the other half of the game’s best players — hitters — to Oracle Park, and you might see them going after a few more like Troy Tulowitzki, a Sunnyvale native who was a target but chose the Yankees.  

[RELATED: Zaidi reveals timetable for Giants' next move]

"I love hearing that a guy is a Bay Area native, and if not a Bay Area native, a California native," Zaidi said. "I think that’s a certain pull. California guys want to play in this state."