Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Taking a bite out of the Crime DogPosted by Matthew Namee
The Devil Rays gave some bad news to a group of veterans today. Four recognizable names - Mike Williams, Todd Jones, Fernando Tatis, and Deivi Cruz - were given their walking papers by the worst team in the AL East. Williams had his fill of humiliation last year, when he was named to the NL All-Star team despite a 6.44 ERA at the break, earning him the title "Worst All-Star ever."
Tatis... well, Tatis has been a bust, huh? It seems like forever ago that he was any good, but Fernando's only 29 years old. On the other hand, over the past three seasons he's batted .225/.305/.357, in 208 games.
The other big D-Rays move wasn't exactly unexpected, but it's still odd to see: Fred McGriff was assigned to minor-league camp. The Crime Dog is only 9 homers away from 500 in his career, but he's 40 years old and coming off the worst season of his life. You've gotta figure somebody will give him a shot, if for no other reason than the publicity #500 could generate.
A year ago there was a lot of debate about Rafael Palmeiro as a Hall of Famer. Now, with Palmeiro closing in on 3000 hits (and with a decent shot at 600 homers), that discussion is becoming moot. McGriff will be the real test - he very well could hang around long enough to reach 500 HR, but it's doubtful that will be enough to sway Hall of Fame voters.
McGriff is like mini-Raffy, or something. Palmeiro could end up with 3000 hits and 600 homers, while McGriff is going for 2500 hits (he's got 2477 right now) and 500 homers.
Matthew Namee cofounded The Hardball Times in 2004, when he was working as the assistant to baseball author and Red Sox executive Bill James. Matthew still lives in Kansas, where he is currently pursuing a law degree. He can be reached at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.