Sunday, July 4, 2010

MLB All-Star Roster & FDH version

By Rick Morris

Injustices abound every year when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game rosters are unveiled. Part of this sad reality relates to the fact that the unwashed masses often cast wildly uneducated votes (albeit not nearly to the extent of my youth in the 1980s). Part of it relates to the asinine rule that each team must be represented on the All-Star team (if a team has nobody performing up to the level of a “star” but they have a player on the All-Star team, then it isn’t really an All-Star team, is it?). And part of it has to do with managerial politics as the league skippers reserve as many spots as possible for their own teams so as to keep the peace in the clubhouse. No offense to Joe Torre, whom I admire notwithstanding his tenure at the helm of the loathed Yankees, but there were years during the team’s last big run when I half expected him to reach down to the level of Chad Curtis when filling out the AL team.

First, to answer the question that has been on everyone’s lips about whether Stephen Strasburg should be on the All-Star team, consider this a strong vote for “no.” We have taken a back seat to nobody in aiding and abetting the hype about the kid – he is absolutely for real and is a rare one like LeBron James who can hit the big time ready to be a dominator early – but this has been one of the greatest (if not the greatest) years for big-time pitching in the past quarter century and there’s no way to take all of the great producers in the NL as it is. Now, while our good pal Russ Cohen at Sportsology has rightly pointed out that the change in overall pitching production has been overstated – it’s not 1968 all over again, folks – the number of top-level pitchers is indeed mushrooming (as we noted here over a month ago). So could you make a case for him another year? Absolutely. But this ain’t the year.

In addition to telling you how it will be, we’ll also tell you how it should be. First, here are the rosters, released today via (and the fans really outdid themselves this year in terms of their idiocy):

AL Starters
C: J. Mauer, MIN – the leading AL vote-getter despite no power numbers, way to go, name-recognition dweebs
1B: J. Morneau, MIN
2B: R. Cano, NYY
SS: D. Jeter, NYY
3B: E. Longoria, TB
OF: J. Hamilton, TEX
OF: I. Suzuki, SEA – the annual selection notwithstanding no power
OF: C. Crawford, TB – first star, but otherwise, see Ichiro
DH: V. Guerrero, TEX

AL Final Vote hopefuls
• P. Konerko, CWS
• N. Swisher, NYY
• D. Young, MIN
• M. Young, TEX
• K. Youkilis, BOS

NL starters
C: Y. Molina, STL – there are not words for how horrible a pick this was
1B: A. Pujols, STL
2B: C. Utley, PHI
SS: H. Ramirez, FLA
3B: D. Wright, NYM
OF: R. Braun, MIL
OF: A. Ethier, LA
OF: J. Heyward, ATL – come on now, the kid is awesome, but this is going overboard

NL Final Vote hopefuls
• H. Bell, SD
• C. Gonzalez, COL
• J. Votto, CIN
• B. Wagner, ATL
• R. Zimmerman, WAS

Also via, here’s the breakdown of the rest of the rosters:

“AL Player Ballot pitchers include starting pitchers David Price of the Rays, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester of the Red Sox, Phil Hughes of the Yankees and Cliff Lee of the Mariners, along with relievers Neftali Feliz of the Rangers, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees and Jose Valverde of the Tigers.

AL Player Ballot position players include Miguel Cabrera, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, catcher Victor Martinez and DH David Ortiz of the Red Sox, shortstop Elvis Andrus of the Rangers, and outfielders Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays and Torii Hunter of the Angels.

Pedroia and Martinez receive full honors as elected All-Stars, but because they are both injured and unavailable, they are replaced on the roster by second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Rangers and catcher John Buck of the Blue Jays, respectively. Both of them finished second on the Player Ballot at their respective positions.

[AL manager Joe] Girardi, in conjunction with MLB, filled out the AL roster with the following: second baseman Ty Wigginton of the Orioles and third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, along with pitchers Matt Thornton of the White Sox, Fausto Carmona of the Indians, Joakim Soria of the Royals, Trevor Cahill of the Athletics and CC Sabathia of the Yankees.

NL Player Ballot position players include catcher Brian McCann of the Braves, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, shortstops Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, third baseman Scott Rolen of the Reds, [Atlanta Braves second baseman Martin] Prado, and outfielders Corey Hart of the Brewers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Marlon Byrd of the Cubs. Because Tulowitzki is on the DL and unavailable, he is replaced by Reyes, who was the next choice on the Player Ballot behind him.

NL Player Ballot pitchers include starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies, Roy Halladay of the Phillies, Josh Johnson of the Marlins, Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals, along with relievers Matt Capps of the Nationals, Brian Wilson of the Giants and Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers.

From there, Manuel, in conjunction with MLB, filled out his roster with the following: first baseman Ryan Howard of the Phillies, second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds (replacing Utley), infielder/outfielder Omar Infante of the Braves, outfielders Michael Bourn of the Astros and Chris Young of the Padres, and pitchers Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers, Tim Hudson of the Braves, Evan Meek of the Pirates and Arthur Rhodes of the Reds.”

I don’t even know where to begin with this crapola.

^ Ian Kinsler? Is he at the point where he can make it on reputation already?

^ Elvis Andrus? No pop necessary, apparently.

^ Jose Bautista? That’s a swing and a miss, appropriately.

^ Way to suck up to ARod, Girardi, I guess that is part of your job description, though.

^ Matt Thornton????? Is this really the year to revert to the “let’s take care of the token middle reliever” theory?

^ Byrd aside, the National League player ballots were all decent, especially compared to their AL brethren – who we can assume feel so sorry for them that they’re trying to throw the game this year

^ Lincecum is having a decent year (by his elevated standards), but not a good enough season to marginalize hurlers doing even better

^ Brian Wilson always gets overrated because he delivers saves, but little else

^ Country boy Charlie Manuel made sure to screw the pooch with a bunch of horrid selections, including Infante, Bourn (maybe Charlie got an Ultimatum?), C. Young, Meek and Rhodes

Unsurprisingly, ESPN senior baseball writer and onetime Lounge guest Jayson Stark made many excellent points about the various outrages.

Next, here are the FDH versions of the rosters, the way they would be configured if the decisions were left up to us (as they should be!). These are presented in depth-chart form, with starters in all caps and one player for each league designated as the DH, since the game is in Anaheim. Injured players not actually taking up a roster spot are designated with an asterisk. Since these are just the most deserving 34 players in each league, the aforementioned asinine “all teams represented rule” is not in effect – although we will address below how we would meet that requirement if needed. We have a short “Honorable Mention” list for each league which lists those who just missed the cut and the best player from all teams not represented here. These teams are admittedly weighted heavier in starting pitchers than custom dictates, but as it is because of the landscape of baseball in this season, there are very deserving starting pitchers still missing the cut (especially in the NL).

AL Roster
1B: M CABRERA (DET), MORNEAU – DH (MIN), Konerko (CWS), Youkilis (BOS)
2B: CANO (NYY), Pedroia* (BOS), Wigginton (BAL)
SS: JETER (NYY), A Gonzalez (TOR)
3B: BELTRE (BOS), Longoria (TB)
SP: C LEE (SEA), Weaver (LAA), Lester (BOS), Price (TB), Niemann (TB), Pettitte (NYY), Buchholz (BOS), Vargas (SEA), F Hernandez (SEA), Pavano (MIN), Sabathia (NYY), Romero (TOR), Cahill (OAK)
RP: Valverde (DET), Rivera (NYY), Soriano (TB), Bailey (OAK)

AL Honorable Mention
3B: M Young (TEX)
OF: Choo (CLE)*
RP: Soria (KC)
SP: Carmona (CLE)

NL Roster
C: OLIVO (COL), McCann (ATL)
1B: VOTTO (CIN), PUJOLS – DH (STL), Howard (PHI), A Gonzalez (SD)
2B: PRADO (ATL), Phillips (CIN), Utley* (PHI)
SS: H RAMIREZ (FLA), Tulowitzki* (COL), Reyes (NYM)
3B: WRIGHT (NYM), Rolen (CIN), Zimmerman (WAS)
SP: JIMENEZ (COL), J Johnson (FLA), Wainwright (STL), Latos (SD), Carpenter (STL), Halladay (PHI), J Garcia (STL), Hudson (ATL), Gallardo (MIL), Silva (CHC), Cain (SF), Richard (SD), Pelfrey (NYM)
RP: Broxton (LAD), Franklin (STL), Wagner (ATL)

NL Honorable Mention
1B: Huff (SF)
2B: K Johnson (ARI)
OF: McCutchen (PIT)
SP: Oswalt (HOU), Myers (HOU), Lincecum (SF), J Sanchez (SF)

Now, with the insipid rule in effect about all teams being represented, we would remove Romero and Cahill from the AL team and insert Carmona and Soria. In the NL, we would remove Franklin, Pelfrey and Richard for K Johnson, McCutchen and Oswalt.

So having compared our rational, reasonable rosters to the piles of bile compiled by the fans, players and managers, the question arises: which players got screwed the worst? In the AL, Napoli, Beltre and Rios should be starting and they’re not even on the team. Boesch, Weaver, Niemann, Petitte, Vargas, King Felix, Pavano and Romero all got done as well. All told, that’s 11 players, or 1/3 of the roster! Additionally, Konerko and Youkilis will be competing with three other less deserving players for a roster spot in the remaining voting. The choice here is Konerko by an eyelash. In the NL, Olivo should be starting but did not make the team. Also, Rasmus, Latos, J Garcia, Silva, Cain, Richard and Pelfrey were treated unfairly. C Gonzalez, Votto and Zimmerman will also be jockeying with two less deserving players for the remaining spot. The pick here is Votto over Gonzalez by a tiny margin.

Wow, “only” about 20 deserving players potentially excluded from this year’s All-Star Game. Way to be, MLB!

No comments: