National League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played Tuesday, here is my National League All-Star team.  20 position players, 14 pitchers, each team represented.  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.  NL team was a little harder to pick.  Simply because based on the statistics, I should’ve taken 14 position players and 20 pitchers.  But that of course would look foolish, so…

C:  Buster Posey, SF (S), Yadier Molina, StL

As noted in the AL column, not a huge fan of taking 3 catchers.  Suppose a case could have been made for Yasmani Grandal and his 14 homers over Molina.  But he doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, so I held that against him (did anyone realize only 4 NL catchers actually have enough at-bats to qualify?  I find that interesting, though it may only be me that does.  I get that a lot…).  Plus, we know what Yadier is defensively.

1B:  Paul Goldschmidt, AZ (S), Anthony Rizzo, CHC, Freddie Freeman, Atl, Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, Joey Votto, Cin, Adam Lind, Mil

6 first basemen you say?  I say yes.  For one, all 6 are in the top 11 in the NL in OPS.  For two, no DH’s are to be selected in the NL, so some can play there.  For three, Lind can play the outfield if you were desperate.  For four, I chose Lind as the Brewer rep.  So there you go.

2B:  Dee Gordon, LAD (S), Joe Panik, SF

Can you believe I had Chase Utley here as a backup to Gordon last year?  Wow, what a drop off for Utley this year.  I don’t necessarily love Gordon, as steals are overrated a bit.  But he is hitting .338 too, so…and Joe Panik?  Yeah, I could’ve gone Kolten Wong here too.  But what’s really the difference?  I flipped a coin…actually Panik had the higher OPS, so I went with that.

3B:  Todd Frazier, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, CHC

Frazier and Arenado are having monster years, but Nolan gets penalized for “The Colorado Effect”, so Todd starts.  I was hesitant on Bryant at first.  But the lack of offensive candidates here in general, and the excitement of showcasing the kids that could become faces of the game (you’ll see this for one more example later) led me to select him.

SS:  Jhonny Peralta, StL (S), Brandon Crawford, SF

Thin, but the best of the lot unfortunately.  Yup, Tulo is totally out this year for me.  I went through the whole Colorado thing last year.  No need to rehash that again.  Bottom line:  I penalize guys for putting up huge numbers because of that park.  Right or wrong.  Tulo’s home/road splits aren’t as pronounced as they were at this time last year.  But his overall numbers didn’t do enough for me.

OF:   Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Andrew McCutchen, Pit (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Justin Upton, SD, Joc Pederson, LAD

Can’t get any more airtight than these three starters.  Upton is the Padre rep and for Joc?  See Bryant, Kris above.  .230 isn’t awesome, but he is still in.  You want AJ Pollock instead?  No thanks…

P:  Zack Greinke, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Gerrit Cole, Pit, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Shelby Miller, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Jake Arrieta, CHC, Carlos Martinez, StL, AJ Burnett, Pit, Johnny Cueto, Cin, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Francisco Liriano, Pit, Cole Hamels, Phi, Aroldis Chapman, Cin

13 starters and 1 closer?  Yup.  Honestly, there were a whole slew of guys that I could’ve taken here.  Some gaudy numbers all around the league.  Of course, that’s probably because it’s the NL, but the numbers are the numbers.  Anyway, Greinke doesn’t have the K’s that Max or Clayton have, but you can’t argue a 1.39 ERA.  He was the right choice to start.  Yes, I took 3 Pirates.  Cole is 13-3, Burnett has a 2.11 ERA and Liriano has a 1.03 WHIP and is over a K per inning.  Simply stated stats, but they belong.

Miller’s performance this year makes you wonder why the Cardinals gave him up.  Usually the Cards know who to get rid of cuz they aren’t very good (see Kelly, Joe, Craig, Allen, Red Sox, Boston).  deGrom and Hamels are their teams’ reps.  Hamels numbers are inflated from a couple of shellings, but his overall numbers are decent enough.  Other than Jonathan Papelbon and maybe Ken Giles, candidates were sparse on the Phils, so I went with the horse.  Bumgarner’s numbers may not be quite as good as others.  But he’s here for a good first half and a dominant postseason last year.  Arrieta’s and Cueto’s WHIPs are both under 1.00, have nice ERAs and average about a K per inning.

Honestly could’ve made cases for John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Tyson Ross, Jason Hammel, Matt Harvey, etc.  But how many starters can you take?

Chapman seemed to be the only dominant bullpen guy out there and thus he was the only one selected.  There are a whole slew of closers with 20 plus saves and a 1-something ERA.  Drew Storen, Jeurys Familia, Trevor Rosenthal, Mark Melancon, Francisco Rodriguez, etc.  But looking at their overall numbers, I didn’t feel it.  Plus, I saw Melancon pitch in the AL.  Not pretty.  I’ll never forget his last meaningful appearance for the BoSox (he got shipped to AAA after that game and then came back later in the year only to pitch mopup).  6 batters, 6 runs, 3 homers, all of them moonshots.  The expression on his face as he gave up his last one?  Complete shellshock.  Happy to be back in NL I bet.

Guys like Pap and John Axford, Brad Ziegler, etc…same boat, with less saves.  Kenley Jansen actually has been dominant (16 saves, 0.55 WHIP, 1.66 ERA, 2/38 BB/K ratio), but he missed half the first half and has only pitched 22 innings.   Not enough.  And seem to be a lot of middle men with gaudy numbers.  But middle men certainly will get squeezed out here with the rest of the candidates.  Ain’t no Wade Davis or Dellin Betances in this group.  Maybe Kevin Siegrist.  AJ Ramos?  Possibly.  But not this year…

American League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played Tuesday, here is my American League All-Star team.  22 position players, 12 pitchers, each team represented (as much as this pains me, I suppose since the roster is so damn big, everyone should have a guy there at the very least…though they don’t do that in the NFL).  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.

C:  Stephen Vogt, Oak (S), Salvador Perez, KC

As I’ve always said in the past, I have no use for 3 catchers on a roster.  Could’ve probably made a case for either Russell Martin or Brian McCann.  But putting better players on the team at other positions is my preference.  Vogt edges out Perez to start, but I wouldn’t quibble either way.  Maybe Perez deserves it since his team is better.  Whatever…I’m sticking with Vogt.

1B:  Miguel Cabrera, Det (S), Albert Pujols, LAA, Mark Teixeira, NYY, Mitch Moreland, Tex

4 first basemen may be a little steep.  And Teix and Mitch Moreland(??)?  Don’t love Teix’s .240 average.  But 22 dingers and 62 RBI’s, plus 10th in league in OPS is hard to ignore.  Moreland has 16 bombs and is 13th in the league in OPS, if you can believe that.  I’m putting him on, like it or not.  Miggy is still the man and Albert must have found some juice again with his 26 taters…but it’s all good for the game.

2B:  Brian Dozier, Min (S), Jose Altuve, Hou, Jason Kipnis, Cle, Dustin Pedroia, Bos

Not enamored with taking 4 second basemen.  But the first 3 are legit.  That’s actually exactly what I wrote last year, albeit with different players.  Dozier gets the start, but again, I would not argue if you wanted to go with Altuve or Kipnis there either.  Pedroia?  Well, he is my one rep for Boston.  .819 OPS (22nd in league), 9 dingers, .306…works for me.  Brock Holt was in the real game as the Red Sox lone rep.  Love the dude and what he has done.  But All-Star?  I think not.  Clay Buchholz?  Hahaha…that guy is a joke.  Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts?  Close, but couldn’t do it.  More on them later…

3B:  Josh Donaldson, Oak (S), Alex Rodriguez, NYY

This is where I start taking some liberties.  It’s my team, I can do it if I want.  Donaldson is the clear choice here, especially since he may be one of the leading MVP candidates now.  Backup?  Sticking A-Fraud here.  I know he hasn’t played here in a while.  But so be it.  It’s a crime that he didn’t make the real squad.  MLB celebrated Pete Rose in this year’s game, but A-Rod wasn’t there?  Didn’t seem right.

SS:  Manny Machado, Bal (S), Carlos Correa, Hou

You thought last year’s shortstop crop was weak?  Putrid this year.  Downright atrocious.  That’s why I’m sticking Machado here.  He could still do it I am sure after going through the Orioles system as one, but being blocked by JJ Hardy in the bigs.  And I am taking Correa too, despite the less than 150 plate appearances so far in the bigs.  He’s come in with a bang.  Let’s start rewarding the kids!  Alcides Escobar started in real life…yikes!  Jose Iglesias was his backup…double yikes!  Xander Bogaerts is better than both those guys, but I still didn’t think he had enough.  Plus I didn’t want to be accused of being a homer…anyway, back to Iglesias, yeah, he’s fifth in batting at .314.  But it’s about as empty a .314 as you can get.  He still looks terrible at the plate.  His defense is probably still top notch (made a fantastic play in the actual game), but if it is such a difference, why is his WAR only 1.3?  He’s even only 9-15 in steals.  Couldn’t go there.

OF:  Mike Trout, LAA (S), JD Martinez, Det (S), Lorenzo Cain, KC (S), Jose Bautista, Tor, Alex Gordon, KC, Brett Gardner, NYY

Trout and JD Martinez are obvious.  You could argue Gardner over Cain, but really doesn’t matter.  Don’t love Bautista’s .239 average, but like Teixeira, can’t ignore the power numbers.  Plus, he could play some third on this team!  Maybe could make a case for Yoenis Cespedes, Mookie Betts or even Hanley Ramirez but went with Gordon…a full year after writing, “Alex Gordon?  Nah.”  He is a better player than I ever gave him credit for I will say.  You may say, “where is Adam Jones?”  I may say, “where is he is right!”  Had a phenomenal start to the season, but has tapered off dramatically since then.  I’m penalizing him for it.  I heard someone mention Josh Reddick as a candidate.  I pretended I didn’t hear that.

DH:  Prince Fielder, Tex (S), Nelson Cruz, Sea

‘Nuff said, just like last year.  Start either one, fine with me.

P:  Chris Sale, CWS (S), Felix Hernandez, Sea, Sonny Gray, Oak, Dallas Keuchel, Hou, Chris Archer, TB, David Price, Det, Corey Kluber, Cle, Wade Davis, KC, Dellin Betances, NYY, Andrew Miller, NYY, Zach Britton, Bal, Glen Perkins, Min

As I’ve explained in the past, my inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers.  Great starters are infinitely more important to their team and that is why they get the big bucks, as they say.  Closers historically get hot for a year or three, but unless they are Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, they inevitably fail and fall back into middle relief or the minors or out of baseball.  Very few of the elite ones that can do it for 10 years plus.  Middle relievers are usually failed starters AND closers.  So even though they can be dominant, it usually doesn’t last.  And if it does, they will go back to another key role.

The first 6 starters are no-brainers.  I picked Sale to start, but go with any of the others if you choose.  Kluber may be the most controversial choice of course.  Had a rough April and not a great June, but has had periods of dominance this season as well.  K’s are huge and ERA is respectable.  The fact he won the Cy Young last year cannot go unnoticed.  Rather take him here than the likes of Hector Santiago, Scotty Kazmir, Yovani Gallardo and of course Wei-Yin Chen!

This is what I wrote about Davis and Betances last year:  “Wade Davis and Dellin Betances have been exclusively middle relievers.  And have been dominant.  But not All-Stars in my book.”  Maybe they heard me and got pissed.  Because they have been even MORE dominant this year, and have also closed games for stretches where the regular closers have been out.  Makes them All-Stars this year, I’d say.  Darren O’Day could have a case here as well, and some Harris dude from Houston.  But 2 middle relievers is enough for me.

Speaking of dominant, Andrew Miller was just that before he got hurt.  Somehow the real voters forgot that.  Signed to be a setup guy, he grabbed the role in the spring and never looked back.  Speaking of failed starters…but his performance this year cannot be overlooked.  Britton and Perkins have been pretty damn good as well.  Huston Street?  Maybe, but no worries from me about leaving him off.

Jeff Bianchi

An addendum to all the Red Sox related posts recently.  Who is Jeff Bianchi?  Who the F cares?!  But I found his plight interesting.  No one else did, most assuredly.

Not that I care about the player specifically.  But I found that what went on with him within the Red Sox organization seemed to just kind of sum up this season so far, in a nutshell.

Anyway, here is an e-mail I wrote to a group of Sox fan friends on 6/12/15.  Didn’t think it was worthy of a post back then, but now?  Still probably not…but what the hell?  It read as follows…and has been edited slightly for clarity’s sake:

Raise your hand if you knew we had some guy Jeff Bianchi on the roster?

This is a minute point, but kind of falls into line with the way the Sox have been “managed” this year…both by the GM and manager.  A microcosm, if you will:
 
Bianchi is some journeyman infield stiff that apparently the Sox signed to a minor league contract in the winter.  Didn’t make the team, got reassigned to AAA, blah, blah, blah.
 
For some reason, they felt they needed him and called him up on 5/24 to replace Shane Victorino on the roster.  He got into the game in the 9th, no ABs.
 
When they acquired Carlos “we hardly knew ye” Peguero on 5/28, Bianchi was Designated For Assignment, with no further appearances since his Sox debut on the 24th.  On 5/30, he was sent outright to Pawtucket, refused assignment, so he became a free agent.
 
THE VERY NEXT DAY, 5/31, Bianchi was re-signed to a MAJOR LEAGUE CONTRACT.  And has been on the active roster ever since, not even coming close to sniffing game action.  
 
This may be stuff that only interests me.  But in addition to the high profile questionable signings (Hanley, Panda, Masterson, Porcello, etc.), they have even mismanaged the back end of the roster, signing a guy that is completely fungible to a deal probably about 500k more than they needed to…and of course, they really don’t need him since he hasn’t played an inning in the 2 weeks he has been back.  Sure they have money to burn, but still…
 
Also goes to show you that EVERYTHING has gone wrong this year…just everything…

End of e-mail…but not actually the end!  This note is from 6/12.  On 6/13, Bianchi got in the game when Fat Panda got hurt and got 2 at-bats, including one in the 11th inning with Mike Napoli still on the bench and down a run.  Napoli being a stiff this year has already been noted in my recent posts, as well as John Farrell’s poor decision to let Bianchi hit in this particular spot, despite having 1 at-bat in like 3 weeks.  Amazingly enough, in order to have a better shot to tie the game, common sense would indicate that Napoli would have been the better choice there.Then on 6/14, Bianchi cleaned up for Xander Bogaerts at SS in a blowout, no at-bats.

6/15?  DFA’d again.  Money well spent.  Again, the Sox can swallow the dough.  But what was the whole point of it?
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