Monthly Archives: June 2019

2019 MLB National League All-Stars

NL squad is below.  32 players selected, 20 position players and 12 pitchers.  Each team is represented, as we know.  (S) for the starter.  Comments below each position.

C:  Willson Contreras, ChC (S), Yasmani Grandal, Mil

Pretty easy.  J.T. Realmuto was the only other option.  Moving on.

1B:  Josh Bell, Pit (S), Freddie Freeman, Atl, Pete Alonso, NYM, Max Muncy, LAD, Rhys Hoskins, Phi

DEEP position this year.  I wanted to find room for Anthony Rizzo (ChC)…and I should have.  Even Eric Hosmer (SD) and his ridiculous contract have 57 RBIs this year.  But…you know, team and position constraints kept those guys off.  Even with five making it.  Because, you know, there is no DH in the National League.  So there’s room for at least these five.  Bell starts, yup, highest OPS.  But if you went Freeman or Alonso, no worries.  Alonso…what a year for the rookie.  Something for Mets fans to cheer about.  Well, unless you like clubhouse confrontations with reporters, that is.  I thought Muncy’s year last year was a total fluke.  Count me wrong on that…again.  Inexplicably, Hoskins is the Philly rep.  Hope that 13-year contract for Bryce Harper works out over the last 12 years anyway.

2B:  Ketel Marte, AZ (S), Mike Moustakas, Mil

Cut and dried here too.  Maybe Ozzie Albies (Atl) gets some votes.  Didn’t see this out of Marte?  Neither did most.  And Moose playing second?  No problem.  He just keeps hitting dingers.  Looks like he will be playing more third these days, but since he started out the year at second and has played a smidge more games there, we are slotting him here.

3B: Anthony Rendon, Was (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC

Someone is going to pay Rendon a lot of money next offseason.  Arenado is STILL getting penalized for being a Rockie.  But you know what?  We should actually be giving him some props.  He got a sh%t-ton of money to stay in Denver.  BUT, a lot of players STILL would have left.  If he plays his whole career in Coors Field, he will glide into the Hall of Fame (barring injury.  See: Helton, Todd).  Anyone who leaves Colorado is foolish, in my opinion.  They should take less money to stay.  Helps their career.  Anyway, we are still starting Rendon.  Why?  OPS is higher!!  Bryant seems to be back on track.  Plus he still plays the outfield.  So there’s that.  We also considered Eduardo Escobar (AZ).  Yup, we did.  And Manny Machado (SD).  Not to be.

SS:  Javier Baez, ChC (S), Trevor Story, Col

Paul DeJong (StL) and Dansby Swanson (Atl) merited consideration.  But we are not there yet.

OF:  Clay Bellinger, LAD (S), Christian Yelich, Mil (S), Juan Soto, Was (S), Ronald Acuna, Atl, Marcell Ozuna, StL, Charlie Blackmon, Col

Guess Yelich’s MVP year wasn’t a fluke, eh?  So maybe Mookie’s was…which doesn’t help the writer.  Anyway, Bellinger is apparently the real deal as well.  Those two look like they will be fighting for the MVP this year.  Another nice battle is between the kids, Soto and Acuna.  We will be looking at them for years to come too.  Soto gets the start, want to guess why?  Hint:  OPS!!  Ozuna was taken over DeJong as remarkably the only guy from the Cards.  Blackmon?  Sigh…Colorado.  But sometimes it is just impossible to ignore the pure numbers, regardless of the park.  Jeez, even David Dahl (yes, Col) put himself in the mix this year.  Hunter Renfroe (SD)?  No room.  Same can be said for Jeff McNeil (NYM) and his .341 average.

P:  Max Scherzer, Was (S), Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD, Mike Soroka, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Luis Castillo, Cin, Caleb Smith, Mia, Zack Greinke, AZ, Walker Buehler, LAD, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Will Smith, SF, Josh Hader, Mil, Kirby Yates, SD

Honestly, the only other guys I considered here were Cole Hamels (ChC) and Felipe Vazquez (Pit).  Maybe even Chris Paddack (SD).  But this was kind of an easy list here.  An impressive one?  Not really.  But these are the guys.  Ryu is having a tremendous year.  7 walks all year in 103 innings?  Awesome!  I like Max’s overall numbers better, however.  If you want to start Ryu, no worries here.  But those are the two candidates.  Caleb Smith is a stretch, but he is the Marlin rep.  Castillo, Yates and Will Smith are their teams’ respective reps, but those were easy calls, to be honest.  To steal a quote from last years’ column, I wasn’t on the Yates bandwagon then, but am certainly now.  deGrom isn’t putting up as sick numbers as he did last season, but they are still nice.  Kershaw isn’t as dominant as he has been in the past, but he is still getting it done.  Not much else to say here.

Sssssoooooo…lets see how we match up against the real selections…

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2019 MLB American League All-Stars

No preamble this year.  The real picks (besides the starters) come out later today.  And I am going to beat them…I think for the first time ever.

32 players are selected.  20 position players, 12 pitchers.  This time I am not cheating on the numbers.  Each team will still be represented.  (S) for the starter.  Comments below each position.

C:  Gary Sanchez, NYY (S), James McCann, CWS

Sanchez is pretty obvious but McCann??  Yup.  Actually, there were a few candidates for the backup job.  Christian Vazquez (Bos), Josh Phegley (Oak), Robert Perez (Cle) or Omar Narvaez (Sea) would have suited just fine.  McCann had the highest OPS of the five.  Done.

1B:  Carlos Santana, Cle (S), Luke Voit, NYY

Similar to catcher, Santana is clear-cut and then there were others that could have been selected instead of Voit.  C.J. Cron (Min…after hitting 30 dingers for TB last year and getting released), Jose Abreu (CWS) or Edwin Encarnacion (Sea/NYY) could have filled this spot too.  Voit had the highest OPS of the four.  Done.

2B:  DJ LeMahieu, NYY (S), Whit Merrifield, KC, Tommy La Stella, LAA

Tail between my legs on DJ.  Although his glove is top-notch, I figured his offense was the product of Coors Field when he played half his games in Colorado.  Whoops.  In my defense, all of the major league teams apparently thought the same, including the Yankees themselves.  When he signed in NY, with Gleybar Torres, Troy Tulowitski (until Didi Gregorius was healthy) and Miguel Andujar were supposed to handle 2B, SS & 3B, respectively.  So where exactly was he going to play?  1B?  Maybe.  But they had Voit and Greg Bird already there too.  People got hurt, DJ played and then made a lot of people look bad.  I will accept that.

Merrifield is the Royal rep, but he has earned it.  Even with the lack of steals this year.  Hunter Dozier was really the only other KC candidate.  But he has missed some time this year and sucked when he came up last year…so maybe it’s just a nice 50-something game run.  I just realized Whit has played a bit more outfield this season than second, but I am going to leave him here.  His versatility will be nice, as will La Stella’s.  Speaking of sucking, La Stella is a journeyman.  But thought he belonged.  Took him over Brandon Lowe from the Rays, who doesn’t play against lefties and has fanned over 100 times already this year.  As a middle infielder…yikes!

3B:  Alex Bregman, Hou (S), Matt Chapman, Oak, Rafael Devers, Bos

Bregman was easy, Chapman was the A’s rep and Devers is having a breakout season.  Yoan Moncada (CWS) is also having a breakout season, so if you put him over Devers I would not argue.  But once again, Raffy has the higher OPS. Don…you get the point.  Gio Urshela (NYY)?  Nice season, but…no.

SS:  Xander Bogaerts, Bos (S), Jorge Polanco, Min

No Francisco Lindor (Cle), who started late and hasn’t quite caught up yet.  No Carlos Correa (Hou), who is hurt…again.  Tim Anderson (CWS) started out blazing…and still has good numbers…and Elvis Andrus (Tex) is there too, but decided on just these two.  Polanco won the real vote, but it looks like X has had the better season…and more established track record.  For the record, I did not exclude Gleybar Torres because he is a New York Yankee.  I excluded him because he has done a great deal of his damage against the wretched Baltimore Orioles.  10 of his 19 homers are against them, for instance.  Enough said…for these purposes anyway.

OF:  Mike Trout, LAA (S), George Springer, Hou (S), Joey Gallo, Tex (S), Eddie Rosario, Min, Max Kepler, Min, Trey Mancini, Bal

Trout…yup.  The best player on the planet, still.  Springer and Gallo were a little tougher.  They’ve both missed a whole slew of games.  But have been dominant when healthy, so that gave them the nod.  TWO Twin outfielders?  Yup.  Well deserved.  Mancini is the Oriole rep.  But don’t discount his numbers.  Michael Brantley (Hou) and Domingo Santana (Sea) and even Austin Meadows (TB) have cases.  Wouldn’t fight any of them.  Mookie Betts?  Last years’ American League Most Valuable Player?  Wasn’t even a consideration for me, despite me being an unabashed homer.  While I actually expect him to make the real team, he has…not been very good this year.  Maybe the expectations are too high.  But SHOULDN’T they be?  He looks completely disinterested.  I actually didn’t even have him on my initial list.  Sorry.

DH:  J.D. Martinez, Bos (S), Daniel Vogelbach, Sea

J.D. is not having the same season as he did last year, but he is the clear choice here.  Hunter Pence got voted in as the starter in the real world and although he has put up some nice numbers for a surprising Texas team, I just can’t do it.  Vogelbach has cooled after a hot start, but we chose him as the Mariner rep over Domingo.  If you included Pence and Domingo and dropped Vogelbach and someone else…so be it.  There was a pretty tight race to determine a great deal of the American League reserves so I am very interested to see what happens in real life.  Can’t go wrong with several players.

P:  Justin Verlander, Hou (S), Charlie Morton, Hou, Jose Berrios, Min, Jake Odorizzi, Min, Lucas Giolito, CWS, Mike Minor, Tex, Gerrit Cole, Hou, Matthew Boyd, Det, Trevor Bauer, Cle, Shane Greene, Det, Ken Giles, Tor, Aroldis Chapman, NYY

YIKES!!!!!  THESE are the best American League pitchers this year???  For real??  Well, I guess Frankie Montas would have been too.  Damn PEDs!!

The list is so thin, that despite starting the year so putridly, and sitting at 3-7, we still considered Chris Sale (Bos) for the staff.  His ERA sits at 3.82.  But with some of his peripherals (148 Ks in 101.1 innings, 1.03 WHIP and .212 batting average against), he may actually have a shot at making the REAL team.  Hey, he has the track record.  And has started three consecutive All-Star games.  I am not ruling it out.

As for the staff I picked…Verlander is clearly going to start.  Morton is #2.  Cole’s and Bauer’s ERA are a little high, but hey, it’s the era I guess.  Minor, Odorizzi and Giolito?  Sigh…Boyd was going to be my Tiger rep until I realized I couldn’t leave Greene and his 0.90 ERA off.  Giles has always been shaky, but he has a 1.33 ERA and is the only player I remotely considered from Toronto (my sincere apologies Eric Sogard and I guess Marcus Stroman).  Brad Hand (Cle) and Roberto Osuna (Hou)?  Perhaps.  But these are my picks.  As hard as it is to believe…

Next:  The 2019 National League All-Stars…

Infuriating…Conclusion…

…picking up where we left off…and with PERFECT timing!

My next topic was the bullpen.  Just…wow…another meltdown Wednesday afternoon.

I know, Chris Sale didn’t exactly pitch that well.  But at least he left the bullpen with only three innings to give.

Problem is that this bullpen sucks so bad, no one can trust them getting even nine outs in any game.

Why does the bullpen suck so bad?  Welp, for starters, they are filled with a bunch of 6th/7th inning guys and have paraded several fringe major leaguers through there all year as well.

The Sox have had 17 guys throw bullpen innings for them thus far this season.  And I’m not counting an 18th, Eduardo Nunez, who threw an inning in a lopsided game earlier this year.  Truth be told, his stuff may be better than half the stiffs they have thrown out there.

In any event, a couple of these guys may be ok in the 8th inning.  But NONE of them belong in the ninth, even with a significant lead.

That’s where we go into the departure of the closer for the last three years:  Craig Kimbrel.  Kimbrel sure as heck had his flaws.  And he was delusional about what he wanted for a contract this past offseason.  But, by and large, he got the job done over his tenure.  He also was borderline unhittable at times…like all of 2017, for instance.

In any event, he knew how to handle the 9th.  Sure, he did not pitch well in the 2018 postseason.  And I was completely ok with letting him go, especially with the ridiculous contract demands he had.

But then they didn’t go out and get SOMEONE else??!

I fully expected them to go out and get a Fernando Rodney type…some dude who would have been cheap enough, but had experience in the ninth closing games.  Now, Rodney has been terrible this year himself, but you get the idea.

We all knew Matt Barnes was not a closer.  Every time they tried to have him sub in for Kimbrel when Craig needed a blow, he was at least shaky.  And most of the time (it seems), he didn’t get the job done.

Didn’t the Sox brass know this?

Ryan Brasier was a nice story last year.  But there is a reason one spends 10 years or so in the minor leagues (and some in the Japanese League minor leagues as well…chew on that for a second).  He threw 33 2/3 nice innings in 2018 but most forget that a great deal of them, especially early on, were mop-up, low leverage spots.

And they expected Barnes and Brasier to all of a sudden hold down the fort late this year??!

Sigh…

It’s easy to blame President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski.  And we should heavily blame him.  After all, he’s pretty much never been able to put together a decent bullpen.  If he had been able to, we’d probably be talking about the 2013 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers instead of the ragtag bunch of Red Sox that ended up winning it all.

We also have to blame the Red Sox owners, John Henry and Tom Werner.  It’s amazing how unpopular these guys are even after bringing 4 World Series victories to Boston since they have bought the team.

But they are.

They refused to go over the luxury tax to re-sign Kimbrel…or any other decent bullpen arm.

WHAAAAAAT?!

So they will spend a gazillion dollars on all the other players.  But when it comes to that last key piece…nah.  We will just throw a bunch of crap against the wall and see what sticks.  They apparently loved the idea of the above scenario, along with seeing guys like Colton Brewer in the eighth inning and journeyman (to be kind) Josh A. Smith actually closing games.

That all being said, you know who else deserves some blame?

Manager Alex Cora.

Yup.

I’m still ok with Cora overall, though he has had some head-scratchers this year (more on that later).  After all, we always end up hating every Red Sox manager in the end, right?  Well, not Tito Francona.  LOVE that guy.  And HATE the way he was driven out of town.  But I digress…

Anyway, Cora has admittedly done the best he could with this collection of flotsam and jetsam.  He mixes and matches depending on who is coming up in the lineup for the opposition.  And when Barnes pitches against the best part of the lineup in the 7th inning, it seems he has done ok.

But sometimes Cora gets TOO fine.  “Painting by Numbers” with the bullpen-fine.  And then when it doesn’t work out he is left with some stiff at the end of the game that coughs it up.  An extreme example was Brian Johnson in the 17th against the Twins.  Johnson stinks.  But he is slightly better when he is a starter.  But never throw this guy in extra innings.  I’d like to see the numbers, but my sense is every time I see him out there in extra innings he loses the game.  My opinion, but I think it is closer to fact.

Again, that was extreme, but that’s also what you get when you throw all your best guys one inning…then the game gets tied and you have no one left.

But the one I liked from Wednesday was even pitching Barnes.  I heard a stat on the radio after the game where Barnes has close to a 10.00 era when he gets zero rest and close to a 2.00 era when he gets at least a day of rest.  He pitched Tuesday.  So why was he in there Wednesday?  With all the analytics these guys use these days, didn’t the team (and Cora) know this?

Yes, I understand that a guy like Brandon Workman had already pitched two days in a row.  And options are obviously limited, as we have outlined.

But Steven Wright pitched the eighth.  Yup, Wright is back after being suspended for the first 80 games.

Listen, Steven Wright is certainly no savior.  But he is certainly fresh.  The Chicago White Sox are not world beaters.  He pitched well in rehab leading up to his activation.  He pitched well in relief last year and the team dabbled with him in the late innings.

Why couldn’t he go two innings?

Not sure.

He is a starter by trade so should be able to give some length.  Not to mention that he is a knuckleballer.  It’s not like he’d be stressed by going the second inning.

Lookie here, I’ve spent my “allotted time” on the whole bullpen disaster.  Go figure.

As referenced above, a couple more things on Cora.  Please stop blaming the schedule for some of your woes.  Everyone plays 162 games and has at least some portion of it that is not ideal.  (Visions of Josh Beckett bitching about having only a handful of days off during the year…).

If the players don’t like the 162 games, do something about it.  Sure, the owners want the gates and are likely the driving force behind all of the games.  But factor this into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations then.  I have never heard of this being a topic…but maybe it is…I don’t really pay much attention to the labor part of the game.  If this has been brought up by the players previously, I apologize profusely.  But still…stop whining about the schedule.  The general public never likes to hear rich people bitching about…anything.  Especially about playing a game…a game that most families cannot even afford to go to.

Well, you can complain about the schedule, but do it privately.  We don’t want to hear the manager whining about it either.  Cora is probably trying to protect his players, but still…

Let’s move on.

How about some overmanaging folks?!  Taking Brewer out with a 3-2 count on a batter?  I guess you have to do it if you have someone like Josh Taylor ready to go.  Ha!  Brewer is a right-hander and Taylor is a left-hander.  The batter, Jon Jay bats from the left side.  Why wouldn’t Cora bring Taylor in from the start?  He said something about if the previous batter had gotten a double instead of a single, he would have brought Taylor in at the beginning of the at-bat.  But he got a single…but then stole second, so THEN he wanted Taylor…blah, blah, blah…

Brewer,, Taylor, whatever…they probably are the same guy, somewhere between the 12th/13th pitcher on a major league staff and a decent minor league pitcher.  The jury is probably still out on both, but they are both beyond prospect status, so they are likely AAAA depth.  Except they throw with different arms.  I’m just not sure the move was anywhere near necessary.  Why bother??

I guess the only other thing I wanted to say about Cora was that it kills me how he often gives the teams’ top players “maintenance days” against good teams when that particular series is sandwiched in-between series’ against putrid teams.  Why wouldn’t he rest them against the bum teams?  No idea.

And just Tuesday, he played J.D. Martinez, a DH with a bad back, in the field in soggy conditions and gave Andrew Benintendi a day off.  Seemed silly, what with several days off upcoming due to the trip to London.  At that point, I did not know that Benny had “leg fatigue” and was going to miss Wednesday’s game as well.

But still, there wasn’t another option to play the outfield?  Brock Holt is banged up yes.  But again, that’s what happens when you have to carry more stiff pitchers than you want at the expense of bench players.

There it is, the bullpen screwing things up again…

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