Nomar Garciaparra has an interesting Hall of Fame candidacy. (Getty Images)

Nomar Garciaparra has an interesting Hall of Fame candidacy. (Getty Images)

This is what we’ve learned after the annual round of Hall of Fame discussion leading into Tuesday’s afternoon big announcement: it is an unbelievably flawed process.

The uncertainty and fragility that goes into deciding who will be next to enter into the MLB Hall of Fame is what makes the dead-of-winter baseball conversation so spicy. There are a lot of good solutions surfaced, yet none have offered any definition as to how these guys should be elected going forward.

Different eras and performance-enhancing-drug suspensions have clouded a world that is almost always driven by statistics. That’s why I prefer to start — that’s just start, not finish — any conversations with a simple (and probably somewhat flawed) mechanism:

– For hitters, how many times did they finish in the Top 10 in MVP voting.
– For pitchers, how many times did they receive Cy Young votes.

Here is the reason for this approach: it shows a dominance in a player’s era, no matter what the era is. The stats will go up and down (the MLB average OPS this past season dipped to .700 from .782 in 2000), but perceived elite status during that particular time span is what it was.

(Yes, I am one who is mostly in favor of voting in those formally and informally tied to PEDs.)

To me, the dominance in the era argument was a key talking point when looking at Jim Rice‘s candidacy. Six times Rice finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting. Six! Craig Biggio? Twice. Frank Thomas? Six. Barry Larkin? Once.

Let’s stop for a second and remind everybody: this is just to start the debate, not to punctuate it.

Pitchers? Randy Johnson received Cy Young votes 10 times, winning the award five times. Pedro Martinez got votes seven times, claiming the Cy on three occasions. Curt Schilling got votes four times, the same as Hall of Famer Burt Blyleven. Schilling finished second for the award three times, with Blyleven’s highest finish maxing out at third during a career that ran 22 seasons.

I do believe longevity with consistent performance puts somewhat of a dent in this philosophy, but shouldn’t wash away the theory.

Carl Yastrzemski belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he also finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting the same number of times as Dwight Evans (4), who deserves a closer look.

Of the candidates on the current ballot, perhaps one of the most interesting when looking at Nomar Garciaparra. Five times Garciaparra finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting, with one 11th-place finish. He only managed one Top 5 showing, placing second in 1998.

Garciaparra, however, just wasn’t quite dominant enough for a long enough stretch. Realistically, he played about the same amount of seasons as a regular as Rice did while totaling a higher OPS (.882-.854). But, using the aforementioned formula, Garciappara wasn’t nearly as dominant during his era.

Don Mattingly has been compared to Garciaparra when surfacing the former Red Sox shortstop, although Mattingly, while also playing for 14 seasons, had three Top 5 MVP finishes (winning once), and four Top 10’s. The former Yankees first baseman has been voted on since 2001, totaling 28.2 percent in that first year of eligibility. In ’14, he received 8.2 percent of the vote.

Some other on-the-bubble candidates: Mike Piazza finished Top 10 seven times, with four Top 5 showings; Tim Raines had three Top 10’s and one Top 5; Jeff Bagwell notched five Top 10 finishes, with two Top 5’s.

Flawed? Yes. As good a conversation springboard as anything else we’ve dug up? Absolutely.

Discuss …

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Pedro Martinez will be going into the Hall of Fame, but it won't be unanimous. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez is going into the Hall of Fame. But we already know it won't be unanimous.



According to a major league source, the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with 30-year-old pitcher Mitchell Boggs.

Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with former Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs. (Getty Images)

Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with former Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs. (Getty Images)

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with 30-year-old pitcher Mitchell Boggs.

Boggs, who will turn 31 on Feb. 15, is a right-hander who has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen since first arriving in the major leagues with St. Louis in 2008.

A fifth-round selection by the Cardinals in the 2005 draft out of the University of Georgia, Boggs didn’t pitch in the majors in 2014 after being released by the White Sox at the end of spring training. He had signed a one-year, $1.1 million with Chicago last offseason.

The 6-foot-4 Georgia native has shown a propensity to induce ground balls during his big league stints, managing a 54 percent ground ball ratio in ’13. At the peak of his powers, Boggs’ sinker was among the hardest in baseball, clocking in regularly at 96 mph.

Boggs got an opportunity to close for the Cardinals to begin 2013 after the season-ending injury to Jason Motte, possessing a sinker that averaged 96 mph. But his trial as St. Louis’ game-ender didn’t last long, with Boggs allowing 21 hits and 20 runs in his first 14 2/3 innings. He would ultimately be dealt to the Rockies later that season for international signing bonus money.

His best season came in ’12 when Boggs appeared in 78 games, posting a 2.21 ERA.

Boggs last pitched in the Giants organization, posting a 6.10 ERA in 10 appearances in Triple A after signing with San Francisco in July.

He is of no relation to former Red Sox Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Back. Hamstring. Thumb. As far as Shane Victorino is concerned, all such worries are in the past.

Back. Hamstring. Thumb. As far as Shane Victorino is concerned, all such worries are in the past.

The Red Sox outfielder reports that everything in regard to his offseason training following back surgery has gone according to plan. Victorino wrote in a text Sunday: “So far full go. Picking up swinging this week. Throwing every day, and lifting, etc. So far, so good.”

There is also some video proof of his progress …

While much focus has been placed on the emergence of rookie outfielders Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts when trying to project the right field and center field for the Red Sox, it should be noted the importance of a healthy Victorino.

On a few occasions — including earlier this offseason – Victorino has proclaimed himself the starting right fielder for the Red Sox. And, even with the promise displayed by Castillo and Betts, if the 34-year-old offers his 2013 offensive and defensive production he could easily be classified as the team’s best all-around outfielder when healthy. (Remember, Hanley Ramirez still has to show he can catch a fly ball.)

During ’13, Victorino claimed a Gold Glove while manning Fenway Park‘s right field. He also finished with a .294 batting average and .801 OPS to go along with 15 homers and 21 stolen bases in 122 regular season games.

If Castillo or Betts finished with those sort of numbers, along with the defensive acumen, the Red Sox would be doing handstands.

While there would appear to be a major logjam in the outfield right now, with Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Brock Holt joining Ramirez, Castillo, Betts and Victorino, the likelihood is that it is a group that will be paired down by at least one (the guess here is Craig) before Opening Day.

The team’s current thinking is that the collection of the four righty hitters (Ramirez, Castillo, Betts, Victorino) can spell each other — with Nava and Holt matching up potentially in both outfield and infield situations — enough to keep everyone healthy.

There could be a scenario where the Red Sox cruise through spring training without any hiccups, and they feel confident enough in their outfield depth that a trade is made involving Victorino. That, however, would still offer a fair amount of risk considering you would be leaning on two first-time, full-time big leaguers and a newbie outfielder with a history of injury.

There is a ways to go before the Opening Day picture clears itself up. But Victorino’s progress offers a reminder as to exactly when and why he was missed so much during his absence a season ago.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The guy who ran for the final first down in the University of Florida football team’s 28-20 win over East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl Saturday, believe or not, should be of some interest to Boston baseball fans.

Jeff Driskel is, after all, property of the Red Sox.

Driskel, one of the Gators’ quarterbacks to play in their team’s season-ender, was drafted by the Sox in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft in the 29th round. At the time the former high school outfielder was coming off his freshman season with Florida, fully intending to pursue a career in the NFL rather than MLB.

He did ultimately sign a contract with the Red Sox a few weeks after the draft, locking his baseball rights in with the Red Sox.

“After my college football career is over I want to pursue a professional career in the NFL,” Driskel told the Associated Press after the draft via a statement. “If I ever decide I want to play baseball, I want to play with the Boston Red Sox who drafted me in the recent draft.”

But things haven’t worked out as planned on the football side of things for Driskel since that draft, ultimately losing his starting job with the Gators with new Florida coach Jim McElwain releasing the junior from his scholarship.

So, where does the 6-foot-4, 237-pound Driskel stand with the Red Sox?

Per a Red Sox team source, the organization has been in constant communication with Driskel. It is the Sox’s belief, however, that the quarterback remains focused on continuing his football career before hitting the baseball diamond again for the first time since hitting .330 as a senior at Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla.

The Red Sox went through a similar scenario with former Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee, who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season before being put on the injured list with a torn pectoral muscle. Magee was drafted in the 23nd round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Red Sox, attending spring training with the Sox last season. (To read more about Magee, click here.)

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Even if the Red Sox didn’t need a reminder, they got one Thursday thanks to the resurfacing of the name David Carpenter: Managing a 40-man roster isn’t a piece of cake.

Drake Britton

Drake Britton

Even if the Red Sox didn’t need a reminder, they got one Thursday thanks to the resurfacing of the name David Carpenter: Managing a 40-man roster isn’t a piece of cake.

It’s a reality the Red Sox are going to be facing in the coming days.

The Yankees traded for the 29-year-old Carpenter (along with pitcher Chasen Shreve) in exchange for young lefty hurler Manny Banuelos. Carpenter had briefly been a member of the Red Sox prior to the 2013 season, joining the organization when the Blue Jays sent him and John Farrell to the Sox for Mike Aviles. (The Blue Jays had to include a player in the deal, and Carpenter was that guy.)

Just more than a month after joining the Red Sox, however, Carpenter was put on waivers in order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. Also designated for assignment in the flurry of moves for the Sox were Sandy Rosario, Zach Stewart, Ivan De Jesus and Danny Valencia. Taking their places on the 40-man were Dan Butler, Alex Hassan, Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster and Alex Wilson.

Few would have thought twice about it at the time, but they do now. Carpenter was claimed on waivers by the Braves, going on to pitch in 121 games over the past two seasons while totaling a combined 2.63 ERA.

Now the Red Sox will be charged with trying not to repeat such a misstep.

Craig Breslow, who has agreed to a one-year, $2 million with the Red Sox, is finally scheduled to take his physical Monday. That means that with the Sox currently maxed out on their 40-man, a decision will have to be made in order to get Breslow on the roster.

Many times, finding a candidate to bump off the 40-man isn’t difficult. But this go-round might be a little tricky.

The chief candidates: Pitchers Drake Britton and Butler. There is always the possibility they could go down another route via a trade (a very real scenario), or DFA a veteran (not as likely).

The really young guys have too much potential (Travis Shaw, Sean Coyle), and some of the pitchers showed enough in big league stints last season that value could still be had (Tommy Layne, Zeke Spruill, Stephen Wright, Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar).

Of the candidates mentioned, the guy who might be the most vulnerable is Britton.

Despite his brutal Triple-A season, Britton showed flashes of why he was so highly regarded last spring training when called up, not allowing a run in seven relief appearances. The problem for the lefty is that he is out of options, which isn’t the case for any of the aforementioned players.

The Red Sox certainly would love to see what they have in Britton this spring training, needing another lefty to step up with Andrew Miller having moved on. That’s also the value of Layne, who acquitted himself well in his 30 appearances with the Red Sox, limiting lefty hitters to a .159 batting average.

Butler is an organizational favorite, and the logical next man up if anything were to happen to Ryan Hanigan or Vazquez during the first half of the season.

It’s why these coming days will likely lead to yet another offseason shoe to drop for these Red Sox.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Craig Breslow was going to make the most of this free agency thing.