Obligatory NL All-Star article

This is part I of my All-Star article. For the AL click here.

The All-Star game is in less than two weeks and in accordance with the triplicate-signed-in-blood contract I signed when I started writing about baseball, that means I am required to make public my opinions of who should be or who will be on the team. I’ll try to follow the actual rules of picking the team, which include:

21 position players (one more than last year.)
13 pitchers (pitchers who throw in the last game before the break are eligible to be chosen for the team, but may not pitch in the game.)
At least one representative from each team must be chosen.
Fans vote for the starters

With that out of the way, here we go. The current leading vote getters as of June 29:

STARTERS
C: Yadier Molina, STL (.235 avg, 3 HR, 30 RBI, .625 OPS, 0.8 WAR)
1B: Albert Pujols, STL (.312 avg, 18 HR, 57 RBI, .994 OPS, 3.0 WAR)
2B: Chase Utley, PHI (.277 avg, 11 HR, 37 RBI, .849 OPS, 3.2 WAR)
3B: Placido Polanco, PHI (.318 avg, 5 HR, 27 RBI, .782 OPS, 2.0 WAR)
SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA (.293 avg, 12 HR, 50 RBI, .873 OPS, 2.7 WAR)
OF: Ryan Braun, MIL (.299 avg, 11 HR, 49 RBI, .845 OPS, 1.0 WAR)
OF: Jason Heyward, ATL (.251 avg, 11 HR, 45 RBI, .821 OPS, 1.8 WAR)
OF: Andre Ethier, LAD (.312 avg, 12 HR, 47 RBI, .917 OPS, 0.7 WAR)

Thanks to fan balloting we already have representatives from six teams. Also, thanks to some zealous over-voting we have some guys who don’t belong on the team this year (as always). Polanco is having his normal nice season but choosing him as the starting thirdbaseman is laughable. He’s just been placed on the DL and may be passed in the voting by David Wright anyway. Molina has been the best defensive catcher in the NL the last few years so I can forgive Cardinals fans on those grounds but his bat has not been up to snuff. And the Jason Hayward Hype Machine™ has been derailed the last month by a thumb injury for which he too was just placed on the DL. Alas, the very deserving Chase Utley is also injured now and will have to be replaced. Braun and Ethier’s bad defensive ratings lower their WAR despite good batting lines.

BENCH
Catchers

Miguel Olivo, COL (.308 avg, 11 HR, 38 RBI, .909 OPS, 3.0 WAR)
Brian McCann, ATL (.259 avg, 9 HR, 32 RBI, .811 OPS, 2.3 WAR)

The only guys that should even really be considered. Both are having great years. McCann’s lowish average is due to an early season slump brought on by vision problems related to caffeine intake. He’s cut out the energy drinks and is seeing the ball much better (.234 avg, .769 OPS in April, .282/.851 in May,  .259/.809 in June).

Infield
1B Adrian Gonzalez, SD (.302 avg, 16 HR, 51 RBI, .931 OPS, 3.2 WAR)
1B Joey Votto, CIN (.313 avg, 17 HR, 54 RBI, .982 OPS, 3.4 WAR)
2B Martin Prado, ATL (.334 avg, 7 HR, 33 RBI, .859 OPS, 2.9 WAR)
2B Kelly Johnson, AZ (.261 avg, 13 HR, 35 RBI, .846 OPS, 2.2 WAR)
SS Rafael Furcal, LAD (.321 avg, 2 HR, 23 RBI, .836 OPS, 2.2 WAR)
3B David Wright, NYM (.310 avg, 14 HR, 61 RBI, .937 OPS, 3.4 WAR)
3B Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (.285 avg, 13 HR, 39 RBI, .887 OPS, 3.0 WAR)

Troy Tulowitzki (COL, .306 avg, 9 HR, 34 RBI, .877 OPS, 2.6 WAR) would have been an easy choice here if not for his injury. Scott Rolen (CIN, .301 avg, 17 HR, 53 RBI, .951 OPS, 2.7 WAR) makes the team if David Wright passes Polanco for the starting spot. Johnson is having a strong season and is the lone Diamondbacks rep.

Outfield
Matt Holliday, STL (.302 avg, 11 HR, 37 RBI, .868 OPS, 3.2 WAR)
Marlon Byrd, CHC (.311 avg, 9 HR, 35 RBI, .845 OPS, 2.9 WAR)
Andres Torres, SF (.272 avg, 3 HR, 22 RBI, .814 OPS, 2.8 WAR)
Andrew McCutchen, PIT (.298 avg, 7 HR, 24 RBI, .834 OPS, 2.0 WAR)

Holliday and Byrd are pretty obvious choices. Torres’ value is built on his speed (14 SB, 4 3B) and fielding (10.6 UZR). Cutch-22 is the easy choice as Best Available Pirate, but would merit strong consideration anyway.

Starting Pitchers
Roy Halladay, PHI (9 W, 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.52 K/9, 2.87 FIP, 3.8 WAR)
Josh Johnson, FLA (8 W, 1.83 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.92 K/9, 2.47 FIP, 3.6 WAR)
Ubaldo Jimenez, COL (14 W, 1.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.12 K/9, 3.07 FIP, 3.3 WAR)
Tim Lincecum, SF (8 W, 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.16 K/9, 2.88 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Yovani Gallardo, MIL (8 W, 2.56 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.91 K/9, 2.97 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Adam Wainwright, STL (11 W, 2.34 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 8.60 K/9, 3.11 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Chris Carpenter, STL (9 W, 2.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7.71 K/9, 3.95 FIP, 1.6 WAR)
Mat Latos, SD (4 W, 2.85 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.25 K/9, 3.50 FIP, 1.4 WAR)
Roy Oswalt, HOU (5 W, 3.55 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.39 K/9, 3.51 FIP, 2.0 WAR)

Very strong top three. One of Halladay, Johnson or Jimenez needs to start the game and you wouldn’t go wrong with any choice. Oswalt has been the best Astro and its really not that close.

Relievers
Jonathan Broxton, LAD (16 Svs, 1.87 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 13.10 K/9, 0.94 FIP, 1.8 WAR)
Heath Bell, SD (21 Svs, 1.93 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 11.85 K/9, 2.10 FIP, 1.1 WAR)
Billy Wagner, ATL (15 Svs, 1.19 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 13.65 K/9, 2.25 FIP, 0.9 WAR)
Carlos Marmol, CHC (14 Svs, 2.27 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 16.65 K/9, 2.32 FIP, 1.3 WAR)

Best of the best here.

Injury Replacements
I mentioned Rolen earlier. Josh Willingham, Brandon Phillips, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Ludwick and Angel Pagan are all also posting at least 2.5 WAR so far. As for replacement pitchers, I fully expect Charlie Manuel to name Cole Hamels or Jamie Moyer to the team as replacements for one of the starters that pitches on the Sunday before.

I think my choices are pretty solid but there’s always room to quibble. Feel free to take your shots. I’ll get an AL team up before the end of the week. Click here for the AL.

All stats are from www.fangraphs.com prior to games on June 30, 2010. Any discrepancy is likely my fault.

Thank you, Chicago

Just when everything looked as hopeless as it has ever looked this season, the Pirates got a chance to go to the well versus the only team they’ve found any success against this year: The Cubs.

Ended: Six game losing streak. 17 game road losing streak. A Pirates starting pitcher recorded an out in the 8th inning for the first time this year.

Continued: Domination versus the Cubs (8-2). Losing a second baseman to a concussion from a collision with the right fielder in consecutive series.

Milledge has to call off Crosby for that ball. I like how he’s hitting but the mental errors are killing me and costing the team runs every game. I was very surprised to see Delwyn Young brought in to play second; it seemed like the perfect time to get Andy LaRoche into a game at 2B to get his feet wet.

Just a reminder: If you don’t already follow me on twitter @TheRealDavidK, I have an account that I use just to post updates to the blog: @643Putout.

Taschner signs, TV schedule

Per MLBTraderumors.com, the Dodgers signed Jack Taschner to a minor league deal.

For anyone outside of Pittsburgh who doesn’t have Extra Innings or MLB.tv, the Pirates/Cubs games will be on WGN tomorrow and Wednesday.

Tough, tough loss yesterday. As Pat from WHYGAVS said, “How after 17 1/2 losing seasons can you STILL BE INVENTING WAYS TO LOSE?!?”

More whenever I find something worth writing about.

Another sweep

Thanks to Vlad Guerrero’s walk-off single last night the Pirates were swept for the eighth time this season. Things looked good early when they went up 4-0 in the first, but as the game continued you could feel it slipping away. I’m out of anger at this point. The team is 25-47. They’ve won seven series and lost fifteen (with two pushes). After winning the season opening three-game home stand against the Dodgers they’ve lost or pushed the next five. The only winning road trip was a 3-2 set against Chicago and Philly. They are 7-2 against the Cubs, 2-1 vs. the Indians and 16-44 against everyone else. Is there any hope to find anywhere?

Season: Record: 25-47, Expected record: 20-52 (+5 games), Runs/game: 3.32
Opening Day to May 24: Record: 19-26, Expected: 12-33 (+7), Runs/game: 3.42
Since Walker recalled (May 25): Record: 6-21, Expected: 8-19 (-2), Runs/game: 3.15
Since Tabata recalled (Jun 9): Record: 2-12, Expected: 4-10(-2), Runs/game: 3.57
Since Alvarez recalled (Jun 16): Record: 2-6, Expected: 2-6 (even), Runs/game: 3.88

Call it amazing but the team scored more runs per game with Iwamura in the lineup than they have since Walker started playing every day. The offense has improved since Tabata and Pedro arrived, but the sample sizes are pretty small and even then not up to league average (4.42). Maybe I’ll revisit this in a month and see what’s changed.

In the mean time I’ll be cheering for the USA as they take on the hated Ghana-reans tomorrow. USA! USA! USA!

There’s not a lot to say

“There’s not a lot to say,” – Vince Vaughn, “Couples Retreat

I never saw this movie, but the former Swingers star says this in the ads after his son pees in a display toilet in a store. I think it sums up last night’s game very well. Something awful happened and we were powerless to stop it from happening. All that can be done is to apologize, clean up and move on.

Paul Maholm was awful. Dana Eveland was worse and was DFA’d after the game.

And that’s it. I’d rather not rehash the whole thing. Here’s to hoping tonight is better. Go Bucs.

Bad Breaks

Not a good night for the Pirates or some of their top prospects.

Ross Ohlendorf, still searching for his first win or the season, was perfect through 10 outs, but then got knocked around the second time through the order as the Pirates lost 6-3. Ryan Church was inexplicably the DH while Lastings Milledge played RF. Garrett Jones extended his hit streak to twelve games with a first inning RBI single.

Zach Duke could go on the DL if he can’t make his scheduled side session today.

Last year’s #1 draft pick Tony Sanchez was hit in the face by a pitch and had his jaw broken in two places. Surgery will be required to set the bone. He was also hit in the head by a pitch earlier in the month and missed a week then. Best of luck to Tony on the journey back to solid food.

After conflicting reports on the severity of the injury earlier in the week, it does appear now that Class A infielder Brock Holt will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL and a torn meniscus.

Akinori Iwamura and cleared waivers and been optioned to AAA. He has said he will report on Friday.

Last night’s loss also guaranteed that the Pirates will have a losing record in interleague play this year. If memory serves they’ve only had a winning record twice. Still, it would be nice to take this series and the next.

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