…continuing on. Skipping the bullpen for now because I don’t want to be sick to my stomach. Actually, it works better on the word count for each column related to the roster projection, but I prefer to ignore that fact here. The bullpen is truly wretched. And should (WILL?!) make many fans sick this upcoming season.
Unquestioned starter: Christian Vazquez
Bench: Kevin Plawecki
Actual prospects that may contribute this season: None
Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season: Jonathan Lucroy
Comments: Speaking of players unlikely to duplicate their 2019 performance…here comes Vasky!! 10 homers in parts of 4 major league seasons prior to last, then he hits 23. .246 career batting average, then .276 in 2019. Etc.
Actually, I like Vazquez and certainly wanted him playing over Sandy Leon last season at all costs. Just don’t expect any kind of repeat in 2020.
Plawecki. Leon, Lucroy…what’s the difference? I guess if Vazquez is going to catch 85-90% of the games, there is none.
Unquestioned starters: Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B)
Questioned starters: Mitch Moreland (1B), Jose Peraza (2B)
Bench: Michael Chavis (1B/2B/3B), Tzu-Wei Lin (2B/SS/3B/OF), Jonathan Arauz (2B/SS/3B)
DL: Dustin Pedroia (2B)
Actual prospects that may contribute this season: Bobby Dalbec (#3, 3B/1B), C.J. Chatham (#13, SS/2B)
Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season: Marco Hernandez, Yairo Munoz
Comments: Devers had a breakout season last year at age 22. 54 doubles, 32 dingers, 201 hits, led the MAJORS in total bases and perhaps more surprisingly, had a .311 batting average (.254 in his first two years). Wow. Is that an early peak, or can we expect more big things going forward?
I think we would all be happy with simply a duplicate season. Devers has always been regarded as a great talent. But to even expect a duplicate season may still be a stretch.
That being said, let’s also see where his head is at, seeing that the Sox brass decided to reward him for last season by renewing his contract for less than 700k. No one asked the Sox to give him a fat long term extension. But to lowball him like that cannot be good. Just ask Mookie Betts how he liked it when the team did it to him.
I’d say Bogaerts had a breakout season as well. But he seemed to be trending that way after his very good 2018.
No question though that he took another giant leap forward. Then he actually signed a pretty team friendly long term extension himself. Surprising, but maybe that was pretty good foresight if he wants to settle here, what with the state of the organization…and the world…these days.
Even if they come back to Earth a bit, I don’t think we will have to worry too much about X and Raffy. Though the additional burden of trying to carry this team could pull them down a bit. Make no mistake, these guys will be expected to be the big producers. What about J.D. helping ease some of that burden, you ask? More on that later.
There seems to be some feel good stories about Peraza coming out now. I am not sure I care. As long as he can play a little defense, I should be good with anyone at that position. Well, except Pedroia, who still doesn’t know when it is time to retire. My feelings on Pedey are well known. So let’s move on…
Moreland was re-signed…and…I am actually ok with it. I can’t believe I just wrote this either. But for 2.5 mil and a 3 mil club option, really not a bad deal. Especially now, with the shortened season likely. He’s useful against right handed pitching, plays good defense, seems to be a good team/clubhouse guy and all that.
We don’t know what to expect from Chavis over a full season yet. Chavis is probably going to spend some time at second and perhaps third base as well. Dalbec is not likely ready this year, if ever. We are at least a couple of years away from Triston Casas (#2 Sox prospect). One more year of Mitch ain’t gonna kill anyone.
Lin makes the team because he is out of options and Arauz because he was a Rule V pick who needs to stay on the roster for the full season or be offered back to the club he was claimed from for half of the purchase price. You really don’t need both, so the expanded rosters at the start of the season, plus some injuries should give the team enough time to decide on which one to keep. Lin has been dabbling in the outfield the past year or so, so this may make him even more useful at the beginning of the season.
Hernandez has gotten some major league time and there is actually something about him I like. No idea why. But he was designated for assignment over the winter himself. No team in the majors appeared to like him as much as I did, so he will be toiling in Pawtucket for the time being. As will Munoz, a late spring signee after being dumped by the Cards. Can’t blame the Cards for dumping him actually. Yairo apparently felt that he wasn’t going to make the team (the first week of March he felt this) and just decided to fly back home to the Dominican Republic…without notifying anyone in the St. Louis organization. That’s a pretty solid way for a fungible reserve to get released, I would say.
I’d say that based on the circumstances, we will not see any of #1 prospect and the supposed jewel of the Mookie trade, Jeter Downs, this season. I am not sure we would have seen him anyway if this was a normal season.
And if you were hoping that Chad de la Guerra or Jantzen Witte were finally going to make it to the bigs, I’d say you’re bound to be disappointed as well. Sorry for this news.
Next: The conclusion…
It’s that time again. Except, the Blowhard is actually going to make his picks BEFORE the real game, as opposed to previous years. What a novel idea, eh? Anyway, 32 players are selected. 20 are supposed to be position players and 12 are supposed to be pitchers. I’ll stray from that a bit, as we always do here. 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the AL this year, simply because I could not leave one of the pitchers off, while I could have left several positional guys off. Plus, you already know we cheat on positions themselves. More of that to come as well. One rule we do not cheat on? Each team is represented. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Wilson Ramos, TB (S)
Wretched. There is literally only one catcher worth All-Star consideration in the entire league. All-Star mainstay Salvador Perez is hitting .213. Everyone’s wunderkind, Gary Sanchez, is hitting .190 and now hurt. I could go on. But why? Someone like Yan Gomes (.247, 10 homers), may well get the backup spot in real life. Or you can go with designated hitter Evan Gattis (.257, 18 homers, 62 RBI). And they may well do it. I was tempted to do it myself since we already went through how we cheat on positions. But Gattis has caught a grand total of FOUR innings this year. So even I cannot do it here. Since the position has been so poor, and we aren’t playing a real game, I’m sticking with just one catcher here.
1B: Jose Abreu, CWS (S)
Yup, just one guy here too. Abreu is the only White Sox remotely qualified for selection as well, so this is pretty obvious. No backups? Nope. Anyone can play first base. And this position is remarkably thin in the league as well. But maybe not “remarkably thin this year”, perhaps? Look back at the selections the Blowhard made at 1B last year: Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso and Abreu. Abreu has been legit for years. But those other three dudes predictably came crashing back to earth this season. Miggy Cabrera is well into the back nine and hurt again anyway. The person who may well be the backup this year in the real game…and I gave at least slight consideration to? Mitch Moreland. MITCH MORELAND!! But alas, I couldn’t pull the trigger on that one.
2B: Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Jed Lowrie Oak, Gleybar Torres, NYY
I gave serious consideration to starting Lowrie here. He’s having a hell of a year. 15 homers and 61 RBI? Wow. Good for him though. But couldn’t put him over Altuve in the end. Gleybar’s real-life chances may be somewhat torpedoed by his recent hip injury. But he deserves to be on my team. Yankee or no Yankee.
3B: Jose Ramirez, Cle (S), Yangervis Solarte, Tor, Alex Bregman, Hou, Mike Moustakas, KC
Ramirez is putting up sick numbers again, so that was easy. Solarte is far and away the Blue Jays rep. His numbers are decent enough. Bregman has been pretty hot and won Player of the Month in June. That helped grease the skids to get him on this roster. Plus…he’s pretty good anyway. Moose? Welp, the Royals traded away their actual representative in Kelvin Herrera. So it was between Moose, Whit Merrifield (?) and some pitcher named Keller that was in middle relief most of the year. Middle reliever that isn’t good enough to close and isn’t (wasn’t) good enough to start on a team that is almost 40 games under .500 already? Nope. Moose can also backup at first base on this team since teams now want him as a 1B and he has been playing there recently in the majors. Not to mention…the Blowhard actually met Moose last year at a game at Fenway. He graciously shook my hand when he could have just as easily punched me in the face. That alone is reason enough to put him on this team.
SS: Manny Machado, Bal (S), Francisco Lindor, Cle
You can start either one, doesn’t matter to me. Lindor has scored 36 more runs than Machado…THIRTY-SIX! Of course, the Orioles are horrific, so that doesn’t help Manny. But both are clear-cut here. Jean Segura is probably the last guy off my All-Star roster so he may have a case too. Carlos Correa isn’t having too great a year, but he, along with Andrelton Simmons, Eduardo Escobar and…even Xander Bogaerts…probably warrant bench consideration for the real game. But not quite for me.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), Aaron Judge, NYY (S), Mookie Betts, Bos (S), Nick Castellanos, Det, Eddie Rosario, Min, Nomar Mazara, Tex, Mitch Haniger, Sea
Didn’t have to think too hard about the starters. They are so obvious, not sure I need to say anything really. Castellanos was Detroit’s clear rep and we picked Rosario over the SS Escobar to represent the Twins. I suppose one could have gone with Shin-Soo Choo as the Ranger rep. But since Choo DH’s two-thirds of the time, I chose Mazara. Despite Choo’s clear advantage in OPS. Haniger? Segura? Nelson Cruz? Could’ve gone with either of these three for my last spot. I chose Haniger. Whatever. Andrew Benintendi? Close. Next year kid.
DH: J.D. Martinez, Bos (S)
As usual, 1 DH is enough. Martinez has put up some huge numbers this season. Can’t ignore those. Plus, he plays some outfield. Not well, mind you. But he still is sent out there sometimes. Good enough for me. Already teased above that Cruz is not on my team. He’s having his usual good year. But hasn’t played an inning in the field. Gattis has those 4 innings at catcher, nothing else. Mike…oops, Giancarlo…Stanton had that horrible start and has since come on. But everyone else besides J.D. really didn’t move the needle for me enough this season. Especially when they are all primarily designated hitters.
P: Luis Severino, NYY (S), Justin Verlander, Hou, Gerrit Cole, Hou, Blake Snell, TB, Corey Kluber, Cle, Chris Sale, Bos, Charlie Morton, Hou, James Paxton, Sea, Trevor Bauer, Cle, Craig Kimbrel, Bos, Aroldis Chapman, NYY, Blake Treinen, Oak, Edwin Diaz, Sea
I will probably cut and paste this preamble every year, in case there are any new readers that may give a crap. I know, fat chance. Anyway, here it is: 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.
4 closers this year for me though. Simply couldn’t find a reason to leave any of them off, they have all been THAT good this year. If I had to take one off, it would probably be Kimbrel. Although he has been good this year, he hasn’t been as lights out as last year. Chapman, Treinen and Diaz have been dominant this season. Can’t ignore this.
All 9 starters are no-brainers to me as well. Don’t know how any of them do not make the real squad. I’ve heard some chatter about Morton being the odd man out. 11-2, 2.83, 141 K’s in 108 innings. How can you leave him off? 3 Houston starters should make it, deal with it. And Lance McCullers could have been a fourth in less competitive years.
Came down to Severino or Verlander to start. Could even make a case for Sale based on the totality of the numbers. I imagine Severino’s 14 wins will get him the real start. No complaints here on that.
Shohei Ohtani as a dual weapon in this game? Not this year due to injury. But don’t rule it out going forward.
Next: The 2018 National League All-Stars…