A gut-wrenching good day for Blyleven

Though he came up five votes short of induction, former Minnesota Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven made a huge stride Wednesday toward reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Blyleven finished at 74.2 percent of the votes, with 75 percent needed for induction.

The highest percentage any player has ever gotten without eventually reaching the Hall of Fame is 62 percent by Gil Hodges in 1983. This was a big push for Blyleven, who gained little ground in 2009 voting when compared to the year before that.

Basically, Blyleven is a lock for 2011, when Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro headline the first-ballot crop. Or in 2012, when Bernie Williams is the best of the new group. He’ll get there eventually, along with second baseman Roberto Alomar, who inexplicably came up eight votes shy of induction this year.

The reason Alomar has to wait a year is because of ridiculous logic such as this take. Even though I think he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s not first-ballot worthy? That’s your rationale?

ESPN’s John Kruk has a good take on it. He seems befuddled.

Can’t write this without mentioning that Andre Dawson did make it. He’s very deserving. I don’t think a poor on-base percentage alone should keep a guy out of the Hall when he basically did everything else well. Eight Gold Gloves. Over 400 homers. Over 300 steals. NL MVP in 1987. Former NL Rookie of the Year. My guess is he’ll be sporting that since-disappeared Montreal Expos cap on his plaque.

Very good to see Dawson’s former Expos teammate Tim Raines made up some ground too. I made a case for him on my phantom ballot. I think Raines will go the route of Blyleven, where voters will realize 10 years from now they’ve made a horrible mistake with him. So see you in 2020, Raines!

I really thought Mark McGwire, who I wouldn’t vote for, would gain ground this year. Seemed like I was finding a lot of writers had changed their minds on him. Like I said in my comments section, when McGwire is ready to talk about the past, I would be ready to revisit his past. Until then, I would never vote for him.

A few more Blyleven links:

ESPN’s Jim Caple. The Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal. Minnpost’s Steve Aschburner.

TWINS SIGN CONDREY AND DITCH KEPPEL

The Minnesota Twins picked up relief pitcher Clay Condrey on Wednesday, while fellow reliever Bobby Keppel will pitch in Japan in 2010.

Not a real earth-shaker here. Condrey is 34 years old and coming off the best season of his career though, posting a 3.00 ERA in 45 games and a solid WHIP (big stat for relievers – walks and hits per innings pitched). His career WHIP is much higher. He’s a contact pitcher who was among the big league leaders in ground ball rate for relievers.

Condrey will compete in a bullpen that already boasts Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Jose Mijares. They’re also expecting to have Pat Neshek back from multiple surgeries on his arm. Should be plenty of depth in this area.

In Keppel, the Twins lose a guy that they won’t miss much. The 27-year-old posted a 4.83 ERA in 37 games with a 1.56 WHIP.

He heads to Japan with his only major league victory coming in that thrilling one-game playoff, which still bring a smile to yours truly’s face every time he thinks of that game.

WASHBURN UPDATE

The Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal also says that there’s no indication that the Twins offered a contract to veteran free-agent pitcher Jarrod Washburn. That was reported by CBSsports.com on Monday.

Twins fans should breathe a sigh of relief after reading that. As Neal puts it, one team official said that he/she wasn’t sure if Brian Duensing wasn’t better than Washburn anyway. And considering how high the Twins payroll has gotten, I can’t believe they’d throw money at another starter right now. It’s simply not worth it.

The Twins must re-sign Joe Mauer, and they must find a better infield option to keep Brendan Harris out of the everyday lineup. At least Nick Punto, who provides no offense, has a great glove. Harris doesn’t even give them that.

Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver once said everyone in your lineup has to be about something (like, so-and-so is a good on-base guy, or he’s a good power bat, etc.). I know what Punto is about. I’m not sure what Harris is about.

Twins reportedly make offer to Washburn, and a radio plug

Scott Miller of CBSsports.com is reporting that the Minnesota Twins have made a contract offer to free-agent pitcher Jarrod Washburn.

Terms of the deal offered are not known, though considering the market it’s hard to imagine him turning much down. He’s a Wisconsin native who wants to play closer to home.

The offer is believed to be a one-year deal for probably around $6-7 million.

In my opinion, a signing like this would represent just the latest failed attempt to add free-agent pitching. The Twins have been down this road before with Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and Livan Hernandez. The difference between signing Ortiz or Hernandez in previous years and signing Washburn this year would be that there were actually better, reasonably priced options available. It’s a buyer’s market.

Washburn had a solid year last season, posting a 3.78 ERA while going 9-9 in 28 starts. He was outstanding for four months in Seattle, but collapsed down the stretch after a trade to Detroit.

It was a nice year last season, and a knee injury for which he had surgery for in October can be blamed for his struggles in the final two months. But outside of his four months with Seattle – in a great pitcher’s ballpark – he’s been mediocre for the last five years or so.

With holes at third base and the need for an ace, this solves neither of those needs. The Twins would have been much better off taking the plunge and signing Rich Harden, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with Texas. Harden may get hurt a lot, but when he’s on the mound, he’s as tough as anyone. And the Twins have the pitching depth with Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins to absorb an injury to the rotation anyway.

RADIO PLUG TIME

I’ll be on "Sports Talk" on 970-AM WDAY from 1-2 p.m. along with colleagues Kerry Collins and Scott Miller (not the one at CBSsports.com, of course).

It will be the breaking news edition of "Sports Talk," as we’ll discuss the football coaching situation at MSUM (news conference at 1 p.m.), the latest three-class system proposal in North Dakota and the Baseball Hall of Fame induction voting (announced at 12:30 p.m. 1 p.m.).

We’ll be kept on our toes with the latest developments.

Feel free to take part in the show. Call (701) 293-9000 or e-mail talk@wday.com

Alomar will get call today, while Dawson and Blyleven among those deserving

The Baseball Hall of Fame 2010 voting is announced today at 12:30 p.m. (I think). Roberto Alomar will most definitely be gaining induction, at least according to preliminary vote totals.

Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven – a former Minnesota Twins pitcher – are in pretty good shape too. If they don’t get elected this year, they will likely be elected some time.

Those three seem to be the only likely candidates for "the call" today. I think Dawson’s chances were buoyed by Jim Rice‘s induction last year. Dawson and Rice played in the same era, and without question I think Dawson was the superior player. Rice was a hitter’s hitter who provided little defensively. Dawson was an eight-time Gold Glove winner who eclipsed 400 homers and 300 steals, and also won an NL MVP, albeit on a last-place Chicago Cubs team.

I’m convinced Blyleven will make it eventually too. He’s in his 13th year on the writers’ ballot, with all players spending no more than 15 years on it. He might need all 15 years, though today could be his big day too.

Blyleven’s career numbers are impressive. He’s got 287 wins and ranks in the top five in strikeouts all-time. His postseason numbers en route to two World Series titles are impressive.

If I had a vote – and, of course, I don’t – there are three other guys I would vote for this year who don’t appear to be close to getting in for 2010.

  • Barry Larkin: Undoubtedly, he’ll get in one day. He made 12 All-Star appearances and spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds. He won an NL MVP award in 1995 and led the Reds to a big upset of the Oakland A’s in the 1990 World Series, hitting .353 during the four-game sweep. He won nine Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves, which may not seem like much, but considering his career intersected that of Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, I’d say three is pretty darned good.
  • Edgar Martinez: I’ll admit, when I saw the name, I didn’t think Hall of Famer. But his stats are just too good to ignore. During his 18-year career, Martinez hit .312 with a .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage. His career OBP ranks 22nd all-time, one spot ahead of Stan Musial. His career OPS ranks 33rd all-time. Only Lefty O’Doul ranks ahead of him in OPS among guys not in the Hall of Fame who are eligible. And yes, he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. But it’s safe to say anyone with his ability would have played first base in a non-DH world, and even if he was a poor first baseman, no one would care, because it’s first base.
  • Tim Raines: Most underrated player on the ballot year-in and year-out. In 23 seasons, he hit .295 with a .385 OBP and 808 career steals (fifth all-time — four ahead of him are in Hall). During his prime in the 1980s, he went to seven straight All-Star games. I consider him to be one of the top five leadoff hitters of all-time. His stolen base success rate is the best in major league history, even ahead of Rickey Henderson. His career 1,330 walks rank 34th all-time, and only Dwight Evans and Eddie Yost walked more than him among eligible Hall of Fame inductees not currently in the Hall. And you can be certain they didn’t have the speed that Raines brought to the table. What hurt him? Playing in Montreal, of course, and probably hanging around too long. His cocaine problems in the early 1980s hurt his image too, though the voters were more forgiving of Paul Molitor‘s early cocaine problems since he had 3,000 hits, a total considered to lead to automatic induction. 

So that’s what I would go with. Alomar, Blyleven, Dawson, Larkin, Martinez and Raines. Feel free to post who you’d vote for below.

Alomar will get call today, while Dawson and Blyleven among those deserving

The Baseball Hall of Fame 2010 voting is announced today at 12:30 p.m. (I think). Roberto Alomar will most definitely be gaining induction, at least according to preliminary vote totals.

Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven – a former Minnesota Twins pitcher – are in pretty good shape too. If they don’t get elected this year, they will likely be elected some time.

Those three seem to be the only likely candidates for "the call" today. I think Dawson’s chances were buoyed by Jim Rice‘s induction last year. Dawson and Rice played in the same era, and without question I think Dawson was the superior player. Rice was a hitter’s hitter who provided little defensively. Dawson was an eight-time Gold Glove winner who eclipsed 400 homers and 300 steals, and also won an NL MVP, albeit on a last-place Chicago Cubs team.

I’m convinced Blyleven will make it eventually too. He’s in his 13th year on the writers’ ballot, with all players spending no more than 15 years on it. He might need all 15 years, though today could be his big day too.

Blyleven’s career numbers are impressive. He’s got 287 wins and ranks in the top five in strikeouts all-time. His postseason numbers en route to two World Series titles are impressive.

If I had a vote – and, of course, I don’t – there are three other guys I would vote for this year who don’t appear to be close to getting in for 2010.

  • Barry Larkin: Undoubtedly, he’ll get in one day. He made 12 All-Star appearances and spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds. He won an NL MVP award in 1995 and led the Reds to a big upset of the Oakland A’s in the 1990 World Series, hitting .353 during the four-game sweep. He won nine Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves, which may not seem like much, but considering his career intersected that of Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, I’d say three is pretty darned good.
  • Edgar Martinez: I’ll admit, when I saw the name, I didn’t think Hall of Famer. But his stats are just too good to ignore. During his 18-year career, Martinez hit .312 with a .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage. His career OBP ranks 22nd all-time, one spot ahead of Stan Musial. His career OPS ranks 33rd all-time. Only Lefty O’Doul ranks ahead of him in OPS among guys not in the Hall of Fame who are eligible. And yes, he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. But it’s safe to say anyone with his ability would have played first base in a non-DH world, and even if he was a poor first baseman, no one would care, because it’s first base.
  • Tim Raines: Most underrated player on the ballot year-in and year-out. In 23 seasons, he hit .295 with a .385 OBP and 808 career steals (fifth all-time — four ahead of him are in Hall). During his prime in the 1980s, he went to seven straight All-Star games. I consider him to be one of the top five leadoff hitters of all-time. His stolen base success rate is the best in major league history, even ahead of Rickey Henderson. His career 1,330 walks rank 34th all-time, and only Dwight Evans and Eddie Yost walked more than him among eligible Hall of Fame inductees not currently in the Hall. And you can be certain they didn’t have the speed that Raines brought to the table. What hurt him? Playing in Montreal, of course, and probably hanging around too long. His cocaine problems in the early 1980s hurt his image too, though the voters were more forgiving of Paul Molitor‘s early cocaine problems since he had 3,000 hits, a total considered to lead to automatic induction. 

So that’s what I would go with. Alomar, Blyleven, Dawson, Larkin, Martinez and Raines. Feel free to post who you’d vote for below.