Ask Gary: Has Joe earned the HOF yet?

by Gary Shelton on June 10, 2017 · 8 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

If Joe Maddon's MLB managing career ended after this 2017 season, would you vote for him to go into the baseball Hall of Fame?

Scott Myers
Interesting question. It's always hard to weigh the possibilities of a current player or manager/coach when it comes to the Hall of Fame unless they're, say, Bill Belichick.
In Joe's case, I'd say he's there. And that's not just because I like him (even though I do).
In Maddon's career, he has ended the Cubs' walk through the wilderness, giving Chicago it's first title in 108 years. He rescued a franchise in the Rays that had

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never won. He's won three manager of the year awards and finished in the top five one other time.

Don't discount this, either. Maddon is loved by the writers who are around him. Loved. He always has time for a private question, and he gives thoughtful answers, and he generally seems happy to see you.
Of course, Maddon could do more. Another title would cinch the Hall (there are always people saying "not enough!).Remember, the two of the three most recent managers to make the Hall were Joe Torre (four titles) and Tony LaRussa (three). Bobby Cox won only one.
But if his career ended today, or if his Cubs simply faded back to the pack and became just another franchise, I still think he gets over the edge. You?

So far pre-season predictions are all over the map for the Bucs. Most Buc fans are sure this team is headed for the playoffs and a deep run while Vegas and others in the national media are not as impressed. The X factor to me is Jameis Winston. Sure he has passed for a lot of yards and done some good things in his short NFL career but there are obvious weaknesses too. Do you think he can elevate his game and become that calm, calculating, accurate quarterback the Bucs will need to become a playoff caliber team this year? Do you think he needs to be not just good, but an elite level quarterback for the Bucs to have success?

Larry Beller

The easy answer is yes. Winston does need to be better. He had too many turnovers, and his deep ball floated on him.

But think of this: With the new overtime rule, the Bucs would have made last year's playoffs. (The Oakland overtime loss would have been a tie, getting them over the edge.) Would that have altered your thinking?

Personally, I expect Winston to be better because his receivers are better. Mike Evans is great, but he's not the fastest guy in the league, and with a lack of speed at wideout last year, Winston was throwing into some pretty tight windows. That should open up somewhat this year (although I'm concerned about the running game).

To answer your question: I think that the Bucs can make the playoffs with Winston at this level, but I don't think they go as far as we would like. If he gets better, and he should, I think this could really be a team on the move.

Will they get there this year? Who knows? The schedule is fairly daunting, and the division is still good. The defense has to play as it did in the second half of last season.

I'll say this for Winston. He gets it. He knows his flaws, and he seems to be working on them. However much progress he makes will be reflected in his team. He's still the most important athlete on the team for the Bucs.

And those deep passes that were off-target. They'll get crisper with DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin. They will.

How would MLB baseball change if they adopted the NFL model and did away with all their minor league operations, drafting players out of college directly onto a team? Why wouldn’t they? Are minor league operations profitable to MLB ownership? I don’t buy the “it takes years of minor league experience for most players to be ready for MLB” argument, not when the NFL can do it, and the NBA drafts high school players at times — baseball isn’t more difficult or mentally taxing than football or basketball imho. So in some way or another, I suspect the current system puts money in the owner’s pockets.

Cecil DeBald

The only reason the major leagues hang on to the minors is for player development. Most players simply aren't ready to go from college directly to the majors. As much as the physical demands are the mental ones, and the ones of an 18-year-old hanging out with 30 year-old adults.

Look at Blake Snell. He dominated in the minors. He was absolutely a machine. But when he came time to play with the big boys, he was lacking. His mentality simply wasn't right.

I've wondered myself if some players need to spend the length of time in the minors that they do. Obviously, bat speed doesn't improve, nor does foot speed. I think the major league teams are cautious because of the price of their investments, and they're wary to start the contract clock on a player too soon.

But there have been enough Rays' hotshots who haven't done anything at the majors (Richie Shaffer?) to make you think this system is for the best. Occasionally,  you'll get a Bob Horner, who doesn't need the minors, but the vast majority do need it.

Minor league baseball seems to be healthy; the franchises go for more money than ever. Still, there is always a better game on ESPN, so the minor leagues don't make a ton of money. There is no TV contract, and smaller crowds, and the best players can be called up at any time.

Another example? How about the Rays' drafting of Garrett Whitley two years ago? He hit .174 with two teams that first year. But last year, he hit .266, and he's hitting .259 this year. That doesn't mean he's guaranteed to make it, but he's improving. He has a chance, but only if his game matures.

Yeah, I think the minor leagues are essential. Not only that, they're fun. Remember David Clyde? He wasn't ready mentally to hang with 30 year old men, and he drank himself out of the bigs. But years later, I got to know David at a minor league stop. I still remember one day he showed me something. There was  a crack in the bench, and David had two baseballs. One of them fit through the crack, and the other didn't. "And I have to pitch with both balls," he said, shaking his head.

Think of it like this: If it weren't for minor league baseball, we wouldn't have a movie like Bull Durham.

Who is more likely to go in the expansion draft? Killorn or Namestnikov? Or someone else?

Jim Willson

A lot of it depends on what Las Vegas is looking for. Given the choice of those two, you've got a hard-driving net guy in Killorn or a more versatile player in Namestnikov. I'd go with Killorn, but a lot of people think Namestnikov because he might blend in better with the other players available.

I've read Ondrej Palat's name in the mix, too, unless the Lightning can make a side deal to leave him alone. If I was a new team, I'd love Palat. He's gritty, and he can make other players better. That's a big thing on an expansion roster.

I've also heard Braydon Coburn, but I think that's wishful thinking. It would be a double-header victory if Vegas were to take Coburn.

I think Killorn is the best scorer of anyone we've mentioned though. But if I ran Vegas, you know who I'd like? I'd like a player like J.T. Brown, who puts in a full day's work every time out.



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