Saturday, December 31, 2011

Two Hall of Fame also-rans

Today is the deadline for those members of the BBWAA who vote for the Hall of Fame to submit their ballots, and therefore the likely end of the Hall of Fame candidacies of two former Twins pitchers, Brad Radke and Terry Mulholland.

Terry Mulholland was just
getting started in 1987, when
the back of his card said he
had an off-season job as a
gas-station attendant. Really.
Anybody who merely makes a major league roster, even for a day, is a player of rare ability, and those who last the 10 years required to make the HoF ballot are rarer still. Mulholland pitched 20 years in the bigs, two of them for Minnesota; Radke pitched his entire 12-season career for the Twins. Both last pitched during the 2006 season, which made them eligible for the ballot this winter. Neither will (or should) draw enough support to remain on the ballot next year, much less win induction.

Still, I find myself as a Twins fan missing both of them.

Radke in particular. Whenever he makes an appearance in Minnesota I wonder how his shoulder feels after a few years off. It's a silly notion, of course; he's not walking through that door. But still ...

Radke was the anti-Liriano. Right-handed, not blessed with a high-velocity fastball or devastating slider, but adept with the circle change and a master of control -- not only in the sense of locating his pitches but of mastery of his emotions. He might win or he might lose, but Radke was not a pitcher who beat himself. He kept it simple, trusted his stuff and wound up with the third most wins in Twins history.

Mulholland was a baseball nomad. Twenty seasons and 11 teams pitched for. He made 88 appearances in his two seasons with the Twins, and that's the third most he made (behind Philadelphia and the Cubs).

Mulholland showed up in Minnesota for the 2004 season, already age 41, and was, for the first half of the season, a long reliever and mop-up man. In the second half, he was the fifth starter -- 15 starts for the season, in which he went 4-5 with a 4.95 ERA. The Twins were 8-7 in his starts. Not great, but good enough for the back of the rotation.

He was back in 2005, but Ron Gardenhire must have seen something missing, because Mulholland got no starts and few game situations to pitch in. The Twins cut him loose after 2005, and he made five appearances with Arizona, at which point the Diamondbacks released him. That was it.

Radke walked away from the mound because his shoulder was frayed beyond endurance. Mulholland pitched as long as anybody would have him. I applaud both.

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