Thursday Rockpile: Walker no constant sentinel for the game, according to Renck

The Rockies needed to up their tattoo quotient with Jason Giambi leaving, so they signed Erick Threets - Jonathan Daniel

Casting moral stones on a Hall of Fame ballot is a sticky proposition, as the lines between right and wrong can get blurred really quickly. Nonetheless, one Rockies writer thinks he has it figured out. Also, the Rockies signed two pitchers to minor league contracts, at least one of which seems likely to be in the major league bullpen at some point in 2013.

Knowing what was coming, in a way I already responded to Troy Renck's Hall of Fame ballot a week ago, as his Javert act (guess which movie I saw this week,) against Larry Walker's Lasik surgery and other perceived crimes against the game, combined with a false view of the outfielder's worthiness statistically, kept Walker off his ballot last year, and I figured the reporter's reasoning wouldn't shift that quickly at all. Renck does vote for several players that don't measure up to Walker statistically, while saying the outfielder comes up just short:

Edgar Martinez - at the plate alone he beats Walker, but add in fair value Larry Walker's baserunning and defense, and it's a different story. I'm okay with Martinez as a Hall of Famer, but if you consider him to be one, so is Walker

Mike Piazza - It's a similar story here, Piazza (143 OPS+) had a slightly better bat than Walker (141 OPS+) through their careers. Piazza also played a more difficult position for most of his, but he played it very poorly. A writer might not want to hold this against Piazza and even give him credit for the added wear and tear of playing catcher, but they should try to also add the defensive and baserunning value to Walker to be fair. All told, Walker added about two MVP level seasons to his value over Piazza by having a position that he could play well at by the stats, but I think both are HOF worthy, ultimately.

Craig Biggio - Biggio played 20 seasons and collected over 3000 hits, he stole over 400 bases, and I seemed to recall his defense not being that bad in his prime. I'm sure many with Hall ballots remember the same. In the past he'd be a surefire Hall of Fame player for these reasons alone, and I'm guessing he'll still get in somewhat easily, but measurements show that he's a case of a player extending their career too long to the detriment of his team in selfish pursuit of those flashy round numbers that will get him in. He was a terrible liability on the field by the end of his career, and the Astros suffered for it. Renck judges Walker for not playing and hurting his team, however with Biggio, there's a case of a player that played too much for his own personal glory and also hurt his team. This is where I think casting the moral judgments that writers like Renck do gets very sticky, very quickly.

Jack Morris - Eh... it's banging one's head against a brick wall to continue arguing this one. They want Morris, who played well but not great with good teams in, but they don't want Dennis Martinez who had almost the exact same career with obscure teams to be allowed in. Neither should be Hall of Famers, but the similarity of the two careers with such a wide disparity of Hall treatment makes one wonder what in these players' backgrounds is causing the difference.

The Rockies signed pitchers Erick Threets and Tim Gustafson to minor league contracts. Threets pitched in the Dodgers and A's systems last season and hasn't allowed a run in 4.1 winter league innings, but last pitched in the majors for the White Sox in 2010. He had a pretty remarkable year as a LOOGY then, allowing just two runs in 32.1 innings between AAA and the majors before being shut down for TJ surgery and missing all of 2011. As an effective lefty, he could be an interesting sleeper candidate to take a spot in the Rockies bullpen out of Spring training, and as he's fully recovered from the surgery now, could almost certainly be expected at Coors Field at some point next season.

Gustafson's going to have a bit more of a hurdle to get past, as the former Georgia Tech pitcher has hit a AAA wall in both the Braves and Reds organizations. He's probably signed more for taking on innings at Colorado Springs and easing the strain on other pitchers in the system than for his own MLB potential, but with a rotation as weak as the Rockies, he probably recognized the increased chance he gets to see his MLB debut this year.

Off-topic.

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