I'm going to get to this early this year. Here are my thoughts on the 34 players on the Hall of Fame ballot this year.
Bagwell should already be in the Hall of Fame. I won't rehash his case here but he was one of the best first-basemen of all time. He probably will get in this year as he is very close.
Undoubtedly the biggest "huh?" on the ballot. Blake had a few nice seasons but the guy was never even an All Star. I had no idea he played for half the teams he did. He was decent enough, but if he gets even a single vote, I will be shocked.
The all-time and season-high home run hitter. I don't care much for the steroids argument keeping players out. Bonds should be in.
I remember when Boston drafted him, but then tried to low-ball him. Dan Duquette was not much of a negotiator. Burrell had several good seasons as a power-hitting outfielder for the Phillies. But he was fairly one-dimensional. I don't see him getting any votes.
There are a lot of players on the ballot that were on either the 2004 or 2007 Red Sox World Championship teams. Cabrera is the first and will always be remembered as the shortstop who had a million high-five routines. Cabrera was decent most of the time, but never really a star. Not a Hall of Famer.
Cameron spent a couple of injury-plagued seasons with the Red Sox. He was mostly known for his time with the White Sox, Reds, and Mariners and had a four-home run game. He had some very good years, but ultimately is not a Hall of Famer.
Seven Cy Young Awards. 354 wins. 4,672 strikeouts. Yeah, he should be in. But like Bonds, Clemens is kept out because of the steroid situation, even though he was never suspended. He should be in, and he should be wearing a Red Sox cap on his plaque.
If the Hall of Fame just took talent into consideration, Drew would be a no-brainer. But his talent never really manifested into great numbers. Drew was a member of the 2007 Red Sox World Championship team and won the 2008 All Star Game MVP. But he is not a Hall of Famer.
He had better career numbers than Orlando Cabrera, but the result is probably the same. He was once traded for Randy Johnson. Not a Hall of Famer.
One of the most interesting new players on the ballot. Guerrero had a ton of talent and was a lot of fun to watch. He fell short of some of the major milestones but he could always hit, even when his knees completely gave out and he could no longer run. I think he could get in eventually, but not this season.
Closers just do not seem to have much luck getting into the Hall of Fame. Hoffman was one of the best of all time, and he had an impressive vote total last year. He could sneak in this year. He better move quickly though because when Mariano Rivera comes on the ballot, all of the other closers will plae in comparison.
I am a proponent of getting Kent in. He is one of the best-hitting second baseman of all time.
A longtime Cubs favorite. For a few years there was a big debate between Cubs and Cardinals fans as to who the better first-baseman was, Lee or Albert Pujols. Lee was just not good enough for long enough though.
Now that David Ortiz has retired, the question is which DH will make it in first. I think Edgar should be in, but I think Ortiz deserves it more.
I remember him when he was a power-hitting first-baseman with the Blue Jays. That seems like a lifetime ago. I support McGriff getting in, but I doubt it happens very soon. Maybe he has a better shot with one of the Veterans' Committees.
Okay, I take it back. Mora is the biggest "huh?" on the ballot. He did hit 171 home runs as a third-baseman and was the best player the Orioles had for a few years, but those were dark times for Baltimore.
Mussina should be in. I don't go to bat for many Yankees, so I will choose to just think of him as an Oriole. He should be in, but I would like to see Schilling in first.
He was once traded to the Red Sox for Nomar Garciaparra. That was when Boston was supposed to be getting Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez as well. Ordonez had some nice seasons, even MVP-quality, but he is not a Hall of Famer.
As the catcher for the Yankees and accumulating five rings, Posada will get a few votes. He might even stick on the ballot for a few years. I don't see him getting in personally, but he is worth debating.
Raines should be in. Like Bagwell, I argue this every year.
Based entirely on his production, he should be in. As I said, I don't believe steroids should keep a player out, but Ramirez was suspended for PEDs twice (both times after leaving Boston at least). Ramirez was the World Series MVP in 2004 and was an All Star and Silver Slugger several times. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Ramirez.
Boston never should have brought Renteria in and let Cabrera go. Renteria did have better career numbers, but his time in Boston was worse. He was the World Series MVP for the Giants in 2010. He is not a Hall of Famer though.
Rodriguez is the most likely new player on the ballot to make it in on the first try. He is without a doubt one of the greatest catchers of all time. He was terrific both offensively and defensively, a complete player. Unfortunately, he was named in the Jose Canseco book, so there might be some question in voters' minds. Even the suspicion of PED usage has slowed the induction of otherwise worthy candidates like Bagwell and Mike Piazza. I think he should be in. But I would not be surprised if he doesn't make it in this year.
A former Red Sox prospect who made it into 32 games with Boston before being traded in a terrible deal to the Pirates. He was a three-time All Star and won a batting title. But if every player who ever won a batting title were in, Dale Alexander, Carney Lansford, Bill Mueller, and Billy Goodman would be in. But that is not the case and it should not be for Sanchez either.
Schilling should be in. I have covered this several times. I think his political views is the biggest thing keeping him out. He has a tendency to say some horrible things at times. He was a dominant pitcher and a terrific post-season performer.
There is an argument for him out there. I am not a big believer in it myself, but I would listen.
I really like Lee Smith and I would love to see him get in, but my feeling is that if he is not in yet, he likely never will be.
Sosa's Hall of Fame argument relies entirely on his 609 home runs. From a pure fame standpoint, he should be in, as almost nobody was more famous in the late 90's. However, Sosa was not really THAT good other than a few seasons. And it would be hard to justify him being in but Sheffield being out.
Almost completely forgotten, but one of his 265 home runs came with the Red Sox. Stairs doesn't get in.
As much of a fan of Jason Varitek as I am, I simply do not see him getting any support. He may pick up a vote or two, but that is likely to be it.
Wagner does not have the gaudy save numbers that Hoffman does, but he was actually a better pitcher. But nobody notices that because of the save numbers. I don't really see him getting in.
Like Varitek, Wakefield will always be one of my favorite players, but, like Varitek again, he is not getting in. He is a Red Sox Hall of Famer though.
Walker has some terrific career numbers. But the fact that a lot of his best seasons took place in Colorado gets in the way. I liked Walker and I think he should be considered strongly, but I can understand the concerns.
If I had a vote, I would vote for the following players: Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines.