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Article:Baseball Notebook: Looking Bad for Clemens

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With a draft letter being written by House staffers asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Roger Clemens made false statements, things couldn't look worse for Clemens. It doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a criminal investigation into the matter, but for Clemens to be singled out does not bode well for him.

So far, there has been no mention of questioning the veracity of the statements made by trainer Brian McNamee. Clemens has to be concerned knowing that the House Oversight Committee questioned the truthfulness of his statements with no mention of McNamee's testimony being questioned.

If Clemens has not been telling the truth, it will damage his legacy and lessen his chances of entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. If Clemens has been lying while vociferously denying he used performance enhancers, he will join Rafael Palmeiro in the liars club and will lose all credibility.

In fairness to Clemens, he has not been proven guilty of anything but being singled out like he has been by the House committee has been a major setback for now at least until he can prove he has been honest in his denials of using performance enhancers. Only time will tell if he was telling the truth or fabricating his statements to make him appear to be honest when he wasn't.

What if Bonds Signs With Rays?

If Barry "Balco" Bonds signs with the Tampa Bay Rays, he may be at the mercy of the Rays as to how much he gets paid in 2008. He needs the Rays to achieve his 3000th hit and 2000th RBI this season. The question is: Are the Rays willing to deal with the media circus that follows Bonds as they follow not only his baseball exploits, but his exploits in the courtroom? His trial may not even be held until the season is over, so there may not be any legal entanglements that prevent him from playing the whole season without interruption.

If Bonds does become a Ray this season, he will almost certainly be the DH, and the Rays would have Carl Crawford in left, B.J. Upton in center, and a combination of Jonny Gomes, Rocco Baldelli, and Cliff Floyd in right. Baldelli has been extremely injury prone having played 156 games in 2003, 136 games in 2004, missed the 2005 season entirely, 91 games in 2006 and 35 games in 2007. This all depends on how many outfielders the Rays have on their roster on opening day.

One answer to the logjam in the outfield may be for the Rays to shift Upton to shortstop, since Jason Bartlett is not nearly the offensive force Upton is. Upton hit 24 home runs and drove in 82 runs while hitting .300 in only 129 games while Bartlett had 5 home runs and drove in 43 runs while hitting .265 for the Minnesota Twins in 2007.

With Evan Longoria at third base, Upton at shortstop, Akinori Iwamura at second, and Carlos Pena at first base the Rays would field a solid starting outfield and infield. The only weak spot in the lineup could be Dioner Navarro as catcher. Navarro hit 9 home runs and drove in 44 runs while hitting .227. There is talk of the Rays possibly signing Mike Piazza and/or Kenny Lofton. Adding Piazza makes more sense if he can stay healthy all season, since there is already a plethora of outfielders. Piazza won't add anything to the defense, but should supply more offense than Navarro.

The Rays could surprise in 2008 with Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Matt Garza at the top of the rotation. At MLB.com Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, Jason Hammel, and J.P. Howell are behind the top three starters in their depth chart but all of them had ERA's of over 5.00 in 2007. The bullpen should be stronger in 2008 with the addition of Troy Percival and with Al Reyes returning.

The Rays could surprise everyone in 2008 by finishing ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays if they can pick up one more solid starter out of spring training camp or via a trade. The Rays should improve on their 7-11 record against Baltimore in 2007 and their 5-13 record against the Boston Red Sox. They were 8-10 versus the New York Yankees and 9-9 against the Blue Jays, so have proved they can hold their own with those teams.

The Rays should be a vastly improved team regardless of whether they sign Bonds or not. So they are not desperate to sign Bonds since this team is ready to make a move upward in the standings with or without him.

Annual Bert Blyleven For Hall of Fame Campaign

It is beyond me why Bert Blyleven is not in the Hall of Fame. It goes beyond him being short of 300 wins by 13 wins since the Hall of Fame is full of pitchers with less than 300 wins. Blyleven has 287 wins, and right behind him are Robin Roberts (286) and Ferguson Jenkins (284), both of whom have been admitted to the Hall of Fame already.

This is a list of several pitchers in the Hall of Fame with less wins than Blyleven:

Red Ruffing: 273
Burleigh Grimes: 270
Jim Palmer: 268
Bob Feller: 266 (missed 3 full seasons due to World War II service in prime of career; he won 25 games during the last season before serving country)
Eppa Rixey: 266
Red Faber: 254
Carl Hubbell: 253
Al Spalding: 253
Bob Gibson: 251
Vic Willis: 249
Joe McGinnity: 246
Amos Rusie: 245
Juan Marichal: 243
Herb Pennock: 240
Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown: 239 wins

This list goes on and on, so will skip down to:
Sandy Koufax: 165
Dizzy Dean: 150

In addition, Blyleven is 5th all-time in strikeouts (3701), which places him fifth on the all-time list with only Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Steve Carlton having more strikeouts.

Blyleven is 9th all-time in shutouts (60), with only 8 Hall of Famers ahead of him. He has more shutouts than Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, and Juan Marichal.

Bert Blyleven, in my book, should have been admitted to Hall of Fame years ago, yet we see pitchers like Bruce Sutter (who is 21st on the all-time saves list with 300) enter the Hall of Fame, while the second best reliever in total saves, Lee Smith (478), remains on the outside looking in.

Sometimes you wonder if the Hall of Fame voters even look at the stats since so many players with outstanding credentials wait by their phone every January hoping the voters will come to their senses and cast their vote only for their stats and not for any other reason since the Hall of Fame was not meant to be a popularity contest. My only hope is that Bert Blyleven will be getting a call from Cooperstown next January (assuming that is where the calls are made from).


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