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.