Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Gordon back in KC; the HOF continues to divide

Alex Gordon is returning to Kansas City on a four-year, $72 million contract.
Alex Gordon is returning to Kansas City on a four-year, $72 million contract. Getty Images

Seems to me as if Alex Gordon always wanted to come back to Kansas City and that he was just waiting for the right offer.

Wednesday, it came.

Gordon signed a four-year, $72 million contract to again patrol left field for the defending world champions. And a major hole has been filled.

Gordon signed with the Royals out of Nebraska and has spent every second of his professional career with Kansas City. It was always awkward to think of him with another team. But free agency doesn’t come along for these big leaguers often, normally, and Gordon obviously wanted to see what was out there.

But with the band back together, Kansas City should again be the favorite in the American League Central, although not by a lot. The AL Central, today, looks like one of the most-balanced divisions in MLB and Kansas City still has some work to do.

Are the Royals really counting on Omar Infante at second base? And can the right-field platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando stand the test of time?

Kansas City also needs to do something with its starting rotation, which currently consists of Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Danny Duffy, Chris Young and Kris Medlen. Reportedly, the Royals have a strong interest in right-hander Ian Kennedy, formerly of the San Diego Padres. KC also has been linked to free-agent pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Yovani Gallardo.

The signing of Gordon, though, allows everyone in Kansas City to take a deep breath. The Royals have to be careful when it comes to spending, so the $72 million commitment to the soon-to-be-32-year-old Gordon is a major move. And it finally takes Gil Meche’s five-year, $55 million contract off the table as the largest the Royals have committed to a player.

Kansas City’s window for winning won’t stay open forever. First baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and closer Wade Davis are due to become free agents after the 2017 season. There’s no chance the Royals can keep all of them.

The Royals have two years to chase another championship before that time arrives, though. And getting Gordon back into the fold makes the likelihood of another World Series greater. It’s a good day for Kansas City.

Hall of Fame candidates — Ken Griffey Jr. will be voted into the Hall of Fame today, it’s a no-brainer. After that, though, nothing is for sure.

There are 32 players on the ballot ranging from the obscure (Randy Winn) to Griffey, who some believe will approach a unanimous vote, something that has never happened.

Catcher Mike Piazza, by all accounts, is likely to be elected. He’s in his fourth year of eligibility and last year received 69.9 percent, 5.1 percentage points short of the needed number.

I think Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines should also get in, but they’ll have to gain 20 percentage points for that to happen.

Which brings us to the uncomfortable situation with the PED crew: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. None will get into the Hall today and McGwire, who broke the home-run record established by Roger Maris in 1998 when he clubbed 70, will fall off the ballot after this year.

If I had a HOF vote, which I do not, I would not vote for these players. Others are more lenient with a view that it’s not the job of the baseball writers to be moral arbiters. And I get that, I really do.

It’s not morality with me so much. It’s cheating. And I suppose there’s not much difference when it comes right down to it. Cheating in baseball is not a sin, of course. Using PEDs or HGH is each individual’s choice. But these guys wrecked the record books and I’m not going to forgive them for that.

Maybe others did, too. Maybe guys who are already in the Hall of Fame or guys we’ll unknowingly vote in down the road. There are bad guys in the HOF already, for sure.

But Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and McGwire happened on my watch, while I was watching. I trusted their amazing accomplishments only to learn later they were tainted. And that’s not OK with me.

Others disagree. Many HOF voters disagree. And that’s OK. It’s America.

But explain to me this: If a HOF voter refuses to vote for Sosa, how can that same voter endorse Clemens and Bonds? Sosa, like the other two, has never admitted to using steroids. Unlike those two, he’s never been in a court of law for his alleged involvement. And from 1998 to 2001, Sosa averaged 60.8 homers (more than any other player in baseball history during a four-season stretch) and 149 RBIs.

I believe Sosa took steroids and who knows what else. I also believe Bonds and Clemens took steroids and who knows what else. I wouldn’t vote for any of them.

One of the popular reasons voters give for siding with Bonds and Clemens is that their baseball careers were Hall of Fame worthy before they started using the stuff. But how do they know when they started using? Can anyone be sure?

Thanks for reading. And no other Hall of Fame elicits the debate of baseball, does it?