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January 10, 2007 January 10, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.

Hoiles Talks: I spoke with newest York manager Chris Hoiles yesterday and the former Baltimore Orioles backstop said that he’s thrilled to be joining the new Atlantic League franchise.

“It came as a bit of a surprise,” Hoiles said. “It’s not something I expected, but something that I’m really excited about.”

Hoiles said that he’s going to be involved in player signings and thinks the ones he got in the expansion draft were solid picks.

Hoiles, who played 10 seasons with Baltimore, has a complete staff behind him of former Orioles and he feels honored to join the names of Sparky Lyle, Tommy John and more as a manager in the league.

For more or my talk with Chris, as well as Tommy John, check out my personal blog. – Scott Stanchak

Al Benjamin Q&A: The Inside the AL chat room is filling up quickly. First, Brad Strauss will be here on January 16th at 4PM to answer fan questions.

But on January 19th at 2PM, don’t miss a Q&A with OF Al Benjamin. Benjamin can provide unique perspective on what it’s like to be picked up by an affiliated team during the Atlantic League season, as the talented outfielder was picked up by the Cardinals during the 2003 season.

Benjamin has got a few stickers on his AL briefcase; having played for Atlantic City, Camden, Nashua and Newark. He also has extensive experience with the Padres organization, having reached Triple-A in 2002 for the majority of the year.

He also has played in the Expos and Pirates organizations.

The career .280 hitter has never had a season with double-digit errors.


Dattola Excited By Patriots Job: I spoke to new Patriots hitting coach Kevin Dattola today for about ten minutes, and he seems excited to be the team’s new hitting coach. He also feels like previously playing with Somerset will be beneficial for him, and will also give him a better idea of how to help the players.

“They’re going to have their own routines,” said Dattola, comparing Atlantic League players to the Can-Am League players he’d previously worked with.

“They’re going to know what works for them and what doesn’t, for the most part.”

Dattola, who indicated that the Patriots hitting coach position had been “brought up to him” before, was pleased that the timing finally worked out this time.

He was a key part of the 2001 Patriots Championship team, and I think this is a signing that Patriots fans are really happy about. For the first time since I’ve been covering the team, both coaches have played for Sparky before.

Stay tuned for more from Dattola in my off-season notebook, set to run later this month in the Hunterdon County Democrat.

Torrealba To Tigers: I don’t remember if we reported this already, but C Steve Torrealba has signed a deal with the Detroit Tigers. Torrealba has played for the Surf and the Ducks in the Atlantic League, and also has Major League experience with Atlanta.

Baseball Hall of Fame: I’ve had a few people ask me what my Hall of Fame ballot would have looked like – honestly I’m a little surprised people care what I think, but it’s nice that people value my opinion on these things.

Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are no-brainers. There’s nothing I can say about either player that hasn’t already been said, and although it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, it’s a shame that neither player was voted in unanimously. Ripken specifically should have been on every single ballot turned in, you could at least make a weak argument that Gwynn wasn’t much of an athlete – an argument instantly turned rather useless when you look at what the supposed mediocre athlete was able to do with his athletic ability.

I don’t think I’d vote for Mark McGwire, but that’s not to say that I’d never vote for him. There’s certainly a cloud surrounding his career and therefore his HOF candidacy, but to definitively say that we know what he has or hasn’t done is incorrect. Again, under the assumption that I had a Hall of Fame vote, I’d wait until next year and hope that more information became public.

This, clearly, is where it starts to get tricky. A HOF voter can cast his ballot for as many as ten players.

Maybe it’s from being around Sparky Lyle for four seasons now, and that’s not to say that we’ve ever had this conversation or anything close to it, but I think there’s an odd bias against closers. It would be no more ridiculous to make it near impossible for goalies to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame than the way closers are treated by the HOF voters.

After Ripken and Gwynn, the next highest vote totals went to Goose Gossage, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, and Jack Morris.

But is there a closer out there truly deserving of HOF status? Let’s look at Gossage first.

He finished his career with a 124-107 record, with the most important numbers being a 3.01 ERA and 310 saves. The 310 saves put him 17th on the all-time list, behind quite a few players highly unlikely to enter Cooperstown (Tom Henke, Robb Nen, Jose Mesa, etc.)

He was also a nine-time All-Star and won a World Series with the Yankees in 1978. He led the league in saves three times and finished as high as third in Cy Young voting.

Now let’s view Smith’s numbers…

He was 71-92 with a 3.03 ERA, but had 478 career saves, which put him second all-time. He led the league in saves four times, but never pitched in a World Series, no less won one.

He finished as high as second in Cy Young voting.

Of the two, I’d say Smith has the more compelling case, compiling 168 more saves in just 20 more games than Gossage. At one point, Smith actually had more HOF votes than Gossage, but that’s no longer the case.

With Smith being second all-time in a category as important as saves, he’d get my vote. I don’t think Gossage would.

However, should I even be allowed to vote? Again, this is all in theory, but I’m 24 years old. While I’ve seen both players pitch, I obviously didn’t see either one in his prime. People who saw both players play frequently and played with them would likely be much better sources of information that statistics, which is all I have to go on.

Next, we go to Jim Rice. It’s no secret I’m a Red Sox fan, let’s make that real clear right away.

Rice was the 1978 AL MVP, a season in which he set career highs with 46 HR and 139 RBI. He finished as a .298 career hitter, with 382 HR and 1451 RBI. He was also an eight-time All-Star.

In my mind, someone who wins an MVP or a Cy Young has a much stronger candidacy than someone who hasn’t, because it shows that the player was the most dominant in their league for at least one season.

But that doesn’t mean Rice would be on my ballot.

Taking into account that he was an outfielder, you’d expect better career statistics. Ripken has more HR, and he played shortstop for the vast majority of his career. With 500 HR generally being considered automatic entry, I feel Rice is borderline at best at 18 dingers short of 400.

Next, we have Andre Dawson.

Hawk won the 1977 NL ROY, and was also the 1987 NL MVP. An eight-time All-Star as well, he finished with a .279 career average, 438 HR and 1591 RBI.

He was also an eight-time Gold Glove winner and finished second in the MVP voting an additional two times.

Based on statistics alone, Andre Dawson has my vote. You could certainly make the case that he hung on a little too long, but all these guys probably did.

Having looked at his stats, I’d be curious to hear the argument of someone who didn’t vote for him.

All right, time for Bert Blyleven.

He finished his career with a 287-250 record and 3.31 ERA. He never won a Cy Young Award and only finished as high as third in the voting, but does have two World Series rings to his name and a career postseason record of 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA.

He was only a two-time All-Star and finished in the top 10 in the league in losses (9) three more times than he did for wins (6).

His 3,701 strikeouts place him fifth all-time, but he only led the league once.

Even with that said, I think his case is somewhat weak and wouldn’t vote for him. It’s a little hard to say that considering his strikeout totals, but I don’t think he has enough going for him overall to put him over the top.

Jack Morris goes under the microscope next.

I think when people think of Morris, the first thing that comes to mind is his performance in postseason play. So let’s look at that first.

Looking strictly at the 1991 World Series, where he started three games, he went 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA and a shutout, earning him the World Series MVP. Collectively in the postseason, he was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA, including two losses and an ERA over eight in the 1992 World Series.

However, he does have three World Series rings, and his teams lost just one of seven postseason series he was involved in.

Going to the regular season, he finished with a 254-186 record and 3.90 ERA. He was just a five-time All-Star and never finished better than third in Cy Young voting. He did lead the league in strikeouts, but only once.

Again, I’d be unlikely to vote for him.

So basically Ripken, Gwynn, Dawson and Smith would get my vote.


AL Hall of Fame News: Dante Bichette got three votes. Jose Canseco got six. Tommy John got 125, or 22.9 percent of the vote. By comparison, the aforementioned McGwire got 128 votes. Both Bichette and Canseco will be removed from future BBWAA ballots due to their low totals.

AL Hall of Fame: There should be one. If not an Atlantic League Hall of Fame, then one should be established for all of independent baseball.

It would be somewhat of a dubious honor in the grand scheme of things, but these guys accomplishments shouldn’t go for naught.

With the AL celebrating its tenth anniversary, I’d like to see more attention paid to the history of the league. Let’s get 22 retired in Somerset. Is 4 retired in Long Island yet? 34 in Nashua?

The players and managers who helped the league become what it is today should be honored for their contributions. Who would be on your first AL HOF ballot? – Mike Ashmore



1. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 10, 2007

Someone actually made an interesting point to me that Gossage had a lot of multi-inning saves – which is something that doesn’t really pop up in career statistics unless you’re looking for it.

That just goes to show how the role of closer has changed throughout the years though. Sparky has his famous “Why pitch nine innings when you can get just as famous pitching two?” quote, but I guess you change “two” to “one” these days.

Perhaps the Gossage vs. Smith debate is the most interesting of them all, would definitely like some chatter on this one.


2. Fausto Gabon - January 10, 2007

The league should name a tenth anniversary team.

3. Jeff - January 10, 2007

I am not sure the comparisions are equal Gossage vs Smith. It seems Gossage gets extra ‘pull’ sonce he pitched in New York, where Smith never got that kind of recognition.

4. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 10, 2007

Well fine, I suppose we can talk about this Atlantic League you speak of if you want. Ha.

Anyway, I’m working on a bunch of different stuff for the tenth season of the league. I’m obviously not doing any of this for the league, but for you guys and for the paper and all that.

I plan on creating a 25-man roster of the best players in the Atlantic League from 1998-2006, I’ll also include a GM, manager, pitching coach and hitting coach.

I’m also working on a feature for my season preview that would talk to some of the biggest names the Atlantic League has seen in its history.

Bet you can’t guess which former Ducks pitcher declined through his publicist, citing that he doesn’t do print interviews anymore. Hmmm…

When I think Atlantic League, I think players with publicists.


5. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 10, 2007

Jeff, that only makes it harder to explain how Gossage’s vote totals have taken off and how many are speculating that he and possibly former Atlantic Leaguer Tim Raines could get in next season. For Raines, it would be his first season of eligibility.


6. Jeff - January 10, 2007

I think a few of the All-Time Atlantic League players would include Bill Pulsipher, Kamara Bartee, Lincoln Mikelson and Ricky Henderson.

7. StormerDude - January 10, 2007

Barnstormers’ Eric Crozier Signed By Red Sox.
Crozier will report Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. with the goal of making the roster for the Sox’s Class AAA affiliate in Pawtucket, R.I.

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