14 Years

The National League won last night’s All-Star Game for the first time in 14 years. How much time is that? Since that happened:

The US has had four Presidential elections.

There have been seven Winter and Summer Olympics.

I went back to and completed college.

Jason Schmidt was a young pitcher about to be traded to the Pirates.

Nomar Garciaparra was called up and has since retired.

The Milwaukee Brewers were still in the American League.

Titanic had not been released.

The Yankees hadn’t won the World Series since 1978, 18 years prior.

The Pirates had only had three losing seasons in a row.

The Macarena was not yet totally played out.

Mother Teresa and Princes Diana were still alive.

The Star Wars prequels had not been made.

Joe Dimaggio, Johnny Vander Meer and Cal Ripken Sr. were still alive.

So a lot can and has happened. Here’s to the Pirates winning a bunch of World Series in the next 14 years.

Fun note: Five players from the 1996 All-Star Game are still active this year in MLB: Chipper Jones, Jason Kendall and Mark Grudzielanek, along with 2010 All-Stars Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

OK, Wake ‘Em Up Already

Getting swept by the Astros was not exactly what I had in mind after my last post. Same story as the rest of the season, just not enough offense to win, even when the pitching is decent to good. Now they go back to Milwaukee for the final series before the break.

Scheduled Pitchers: Maholm, Karstens and Lincoln vs Doug Davis, Dave Bush and Randy Wolf. There’s no reason the Pirates shouldn’t be able to hit these guys but also no reason to expect them too. Very blah matchups. But I’m busy all weekend so I don’t expect to be able to watch the games anyway.

What you should watch on Sunday is Netherlands vs Spain in the World Cup final. No, the US isn’t playing. Yes, the MLS is a substandard league and pretty boring. So take advantage of the chance to see world class players actually giving their damnedest to win a game. That’s what sports is all about.

One last All-Star Rosters note: Nice to see Joey Votto get voted in. He never should have been left off in the first place. Now if only one of the OFers would get “injured” and Cutch named to the squad I’d be very happy.

Shh, don’t wake them

Don’t look now but the past week has been a great week for the Pirates, winning five out of seven from the Cubs and Phillies. The offense still hasn’t been great, scoring 22 runs (3.14/game) but the pitching has really stepped up, allowing only 23 runs (3.29/g) with twelve of those coming in Saturday’s loss.

Small Sample Size fun: Pedro Alvarez has a seven game hitting streak (.333), has homered in back to back games (2) and has consecutive multi-hit games. Tim at Buccofans.com had a nice article last week about Brad Lincoln in his first four starts at a level compared to the rest of his starts there. Tonight is Brad’s sixth major league start and it comes in his hometown of Houston.

Let’s hope they can keep it up versus the hapless Astros!

All-Star Roster Redux

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day weekend. I was off celebrating and recovering from running in the Peachtree Road Race but couldn’t not have a third post to complete my All-Star Game roster trilogy. If you want to read some professional and expert-amateur opinions on the rosters you can check these links.

Background links: Official Rosters, My NL picks, My AL picks. If I listed a player as a viable candidate in either article but didn’t pick them then I won’t discuss that player again here.

NL
Players I thought should make the NL squad who didn’t: Miguel Olivo, Joey Votto, Kelly Johnson, Rafael Furcal, Ryan Zimmerman, Andrew McCutchen, Andres Torres, Tim Lincecum, Mat Latos, Roy Oswalt, Heath Bell, Billy Wagner, Carlos Marmol.

Players who did make the NL squad but I didn’t pick: Ryan Howard, Jose Reyes, Omar Infante, Michael Bourn, Corey Hart, Chris Young, Tim Hudson, Matt Capps, Evan Meek, Arthur Rhodes, Brian Wilson.

I’ll attack this in pairs where appropriate. Olivo deserved to be on the team. Howard over Votto is completely wrong and Charlie Manuel admitted he was just picking his own guy. I had anticipated he’d do that but I thought it would be with one of the Phils’ pitchers. Ryan Zimmerman is the other hitter with a legitimate beef for not being selected, especially when the lone Nats player – Matt Capps – has been dreadful the last two months. Somehow I completely overlooked Corey Hart. I had considered Tim Hudson for the team but he didn’t make the final cut. I not surprised Lincecum wasn’t selected but some of his peripheral numbers are just as good as they were the last two years when he won Cy Young awards. I think McCutchen/Oswalt would have made the team stronger than Bourn/Meek but I guess Charlie wants to have a pinch-runner and a lights-out setup guy instead of a five-tool player and a pitcher who could get you 4-5 innings if needed.

AL
Players I thought should make the AL squad who didn’t: Mike Napoli, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Gonzalez, Michael Young, Alex Rios, Shin-Soo Choo, David DeJesus, Adam Jones. Francisco Liriano, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez, Ricky Romero, Justin Verlander, Andrew Bailey.

Players who did make the AL squad but I didn’t pick: John Buck, Ian Kinsler, Ty Wigginton, Elvis Andrus, Trevor Cahill, Fausto Carmona, Joakim Soria, Matt Thonton, Jose Valverde.

Buck is a solid pick, no issue with him over Napoli. Youk, Rios and Choo are pretty shocking omissions to me. Cahill instead of Bailey is OK, but I can’t see how you leave out Liriano, Weaver AND King Felix. Fausto? Really? Ty Wigginton? Double Ugh.

If you can’t tell, I’m in favor of more starting pitchers making the team than relievers. I also hate it when the only player representing a team is a relief pitcher. This whole situation is a bunch of haranguing over nothing but I think that if you’re going to take the time to pick a team and have a game then you should try to do it right. In the end there are too many sources each picking a part of the team.

Obligatory AL All-Star article

This is part II of my All-Star article. For the NL 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 28:

STARTERS
C: Joe Mauer, MIN (.300 avg, 3 HR, 34 RBI, .806 OPS, 2.0 WAR)
1B: Justin Morneau, MIN (.348 avg, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 1.059 OPS, 4.8 WAR)
2B: Robinson Cano, NYY (.353 avg, 16 HR, 54 RBI, .992 OPS, 4.6 WAR)
3B: Evan Longoria, TB (.292 avg, 12 HR, 54 RBI, .870 OPS, 3.1 WAR)
SS: Derek Jeter, NYY (.283 avg, 8 HR, 39 RBI, .754 OPS, 1.9 WAR)
OF: ICHIRO!, SEA (.332 avg, 3 HR, 24 RBI, .813 OPS, 3.1 WAR)
OF: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.340 avg, 18 HR, 58 RBI, .993 OPS, 3.7 WAR)
OF: Carl Crawford, TB (.317 avg, 7 HR, 39 RBI, .869 OPS, 4.1 WAR)
DH: Vlad Guerrero, TEX (.336 avg, 18 HR, 68 RBI, .954 OPS, 2.5 WAR)

Unlike the NL I have no complaints with these choices. There may be slightly better choices here and there but this is not bad.

BENCH
Catcher

Mike Napoli, LAA (.258 avg, 14 HR, 33 RBI, .838 OPS, 1.9 WAR)

Just my choice. Victor Martinez (.289 avg, 9 HR, 38 RBI, .824 OPS, 1.6 WAR) would have been a good pick if he weren’t hurt.  Count on Joe Girardi bringing Jorge Posada (.267 avg, 9 HR, 28 RBI, .867 OPS, 1.4 WAR) along for what could be his final All-Star game. Another option would be to go with Kurt Suzuki (.258 avg, 10 HR, 35 RBI, .753 OPS, 1.3 WAR) as the A’s rep.

Infield
1B Miguel Cabrera, DET (.337 avg, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 1.040 OPS, 3.0 WAR)
1B Kevin Youkilis, BOS (.297 avg, 15 HR, 50 RBI, .983 OPS, 3.1 WAR)
SS Alex Gonzalez, TOR (.264 avg, 14 HR, 40 RBI, .793 OPS, 2.2 WAR)
3B Michael Young, TEX (.315 avg, 11 HR, 51 RBI, .863 OPS, 2.4 WAR)
3B Adrian Beltre, BOS (.349 avg, 12 HR, 53 RBI, .944 OPS, 3.7 WAR)
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY (.282 avg, 12 HR, 56 RBI, .856 OPS, 2.2 WAR)
3B Jose Bautista, TOR (.229 avg, 20 HR, 50 RBI, .882 OPS, 1.8 WAR)

Another injury takes away an obvious choice in Dustin Pedroia (BOS, .292 avg, 12 HR, 41 RBI, .871 OPS, 3.4 WAR). All of the other middle infield candidates are pretty interchangeable (read: unimpressive), so that was part of my reasoning in picking Bautista (2B/OF) and Young (SS/2B).

Outfield
Alex Rios, CWS (.307 avg, 13 HR, 42 RBI, .885 OPS, 3.1 WAR)
Shin-Soo Choo, CLE (.285 avg, 13 HR, 43 RBI, .862 OPS, 2.8 WAR)
David DeJesus, KC (.331 avg, 5 HR, 35 RBI, .875 OPS, 2.6 WAR)
Adam Jones, BAL (.273 avg, 13 HR, 36 RBI, .750 OPS, 0.9 WAR)

Vernon Wells (TOR, .280 avg, 19 HR, 47 RBI, .888 OPS, 2.5 WAR) is a victim of the every-team-must-have-a-representative rule. Luke Scott (.274 avg, 12 HR, 30 RBI, .868 OPS, 1.3 WAR) was my choice from Baltimore in the draft I wrote yesterday but he pulled a hamstring hitting a homerun and I can’t bring myself to choose Ty Wigginton. The Orioles are just an all around awful team.

Starting Pitchers
Cliff Lee, SEA (7 W, 2.45 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 15.60 K/9, 2.34 FIP, 3.5 WAR)
Francisco Liriano, MIN (6 W, 3.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.67 K/9, 2.19 FIP, 3.8 WAR)
Jered Weaver, LAA (8 W, 2.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.27 K/9, 2.88 FIP, 3.2 WAR)
Jon Lester, BOS (9 W, 3.45 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.34 K/9, 3.01 FIP, 3.2 WAR)
Felix Heredia, SEA (6 W, 3.03 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.58 K/9, 3.25 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Ricky Romero, TOR (6 W, 2.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.33 K/9, 3.2 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Justin Verlander, DET (9 W, 3.15 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.13 K/9, 3.38 FIP, 2.5 WAR)
David Price, TB (11 W, 2.44 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.59 K/9, 3.72 FIP, 1.9 WAR)
Clay Buchholz, BOS (10 W, 2.45 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6.26 K/9, 3.47 FIP, 2.2 WAR)
Andy Pettitte NYY (9 W, 2.72 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 6.70 K/9, 3.76 FIP, 1.9 WAR)

Cliff Lee has been out of this world since spending the first month of the season on the DL. Girardi could also (and probably will) choose Phil Hughes (NYY, 10 W, 3.58 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.28 K/9, 3.39 FIP, 2.0 WAR) or CC Sabathia (NYY, 10 W, 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.19 K/9, 3.93 FIP, 1.9 WAR) instead of some of the choices I made.

Relievers
Mariano Rivera, NYY (18 Svs, 0.89 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, 8.90 K/9, 2.37 FIP, 100 WAR)
Neftali Feliz, TEX (21 Svs, 2.62 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.70 K/9, 2.96 FIP, 1.0 WAR)
Andrew Bailey, OAK (15 Svs, 1.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.47 K/9, 3.26 FIP, 0.6 WAR)

I wonder what kinds of things Bailey and Feliz will ask Mo. Bailey is the lone A’s rep.

Injury Replacements
I mentioned Vernon Wells, Phil Hughes and Sabathia. Orlando Hudson (MIN, .283 avg, 3 HR, 19 RBI, .740 OPS, 2.0 WAR) is the best option at 2B if you need to take another MI. Paul Konerko (CWS, .295 avg, 20 HR, 56 RBI, .957 OPS, 2.0 WAR) was tough to leave off but there are always talented firstbasemen who don’t make the squad. Magglio Ordonez, David Ortiz, Nick Swisher and Torii Hunter are all OPSing over .870.

Again, I think my choices are pretty solid but there’s always room to quibble. Feel free to take your shots in the comments or on twitter.

All stats are from www.fangraphs.com prior to games on July 2, 2010. Any discrepancy is likely my fault.

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