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National League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played last week, here is my National League All-Star team.  Better late than never…again.  21 position players, 13 pitchers, each team represented.  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.  The NL team was harder to pick than the AL squad.  Lot of players close together.  Though I refused to take some of the stiffs that Matheny actually took in real life.

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

As noted in the AL column, not a huge fan of taking 3 catchers.  However, there were actually SIX NL catchers all pretty closely lumped together and worthy of consideration.  SIX?!  Since there is technically no DH on the NL ballot, I chose an extra C.  How?  Glad you asked.  The others were Devin Mesoraco, Cin, Miguel Montero, AZ (both of whom made the actual team) and Evan Gattis, Atl.  Montero’s average was in the .260s and Mesoraco and Gattis both missed enough time in the first half so that their at-bats wouldn’t qualify for the batting title, if they were in the mix for that, that is.  That kind of reasoning worked for me.  Take all six if you want.

1B:  Paul Goldschmidt, AZ (S), Anthony Rizzo, CHC, Freddie Freeman, Atl

I actually thought about Matt Adams here as well…but then I thought that was funny.  Justin Morneau is having a nice year.  But he gets penalized for being in Colorado (more on that later).  Pretty cut and dried group in my eyes.

2B:  Dee Gordon, LAD (S), Chase Utley, Phi

Thin.  Daniel Murphy? Neil Walker?  Nope.

3B:  Todd Frazier, Cin (S), Anthony Rendon, Was, Aramis Ramirez, Mil, David Wright, NYM

Frazier is a no-brainer.  Taking 4 third basemen is easier because Rendon can play 2B…as he is doing again with Zimmerman back (well, he was for a bit) in Washington.  Aramis is always steady and Wright pretty much has to be the Mets rep.  Either he or Murphy and I’ve already laughed at Murphy as an All-Star.  That leaves the Fat…er, I mean, Big Panda on the outside looking in…as he should be.

SS:  Starlin Castro, CHC (S), Troy Tulowitski, Col, Hanley Ramirez, LAD

Yup, penalizing Tulo for Colorado too.  And why not?  His numbers are great again and he gets on the team (I suppose partly as the Rockies’ rep too).  But how does .417/14/35 at home and .257/7/17 on the road this year sound?  Awful.  The park effect is real folks.  That’s why I have a good chuckle when people think Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer.  It’s laughable that he is even on the ballot…first year maybe, but going on 5 next year?  If he ever gets in the HOF, may as well throw Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla in there too.

OF:   Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Andrew McCutchen, Pit (S), Carlos Gomez, Mil (S), Yasiel Puig, LAD, Billy Hamilton, Cin, Justin Upton, Atl

Thought the starters were pretty obvious.  Puig may have a case based on his popularity, but the others’ numbers are better.  Puigs’ numbers are pretty comparable to some of the guys left off, but it is an All-Star Game for the “stars” and for the fans and who they want to see, right?  Right or wrong, that puts him in.  Many thought Hamilton couldn’t hit in the majors and he got off to a slow start.  But he has come on nicely.  And I am definitely not rewarding Charlie Blackmon for a fantastic April…in Colorado.

P:  Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Adam Wainwright, StL, Johnny Cueto, Cin, Zack Greinke, LAD, Julio Teheran, Atl, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Stephen Strasburg, Was, Craig Kimbrel, Atl., Rafael Soriano, Was, Aroldis Chapman, Cin, Jonathan Papelbon, Phi, Francisco Rodriguez, Mil, Huston Street, SD

Ugh…I hate being a hypocrite.  But admittedly I am being one here.  This is what I wrote in the AL piece, “My inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers…etc…”.  Then for the NL team, half the staff is closers.  Well, at least the real team had 3 middle relievers and I didn’t take any of them here.

Just looking at the numbers…there are some NL starters I left off that are having decent years and merited consideration.  But they didn’t wow me in the end…talking about guys like Tim Hudson, Tyson Ross, both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija before they got dealt to the AL, Alfredo Simon and his 12-3 record, Cole Hamels, hell, even Josh Beckett.  And Jake Arrieta is having a great couple of months.

But Soriano, Pap and Street have ERAs hovering around ONE.  Pretty impressive.  K-Rod has been great all year.  Chapman is averaging 2 K’s an inning.  And no one is better than Kimbrel in the NL.  Felt like for these purposes, they outweighed the starters’ contributions.

 

Addendum…Sox ideas

As promised, some thoughts on what the Red Sox should do heading toward the deadline.  I don’t care if the standings say they are 6-7 games out of a playoff spot.  Just isn’t happening.  Feels like the 2005 team.  Remember them?  World Series hangover baby.  Tito stuck with Millar and Bellhorn for waaaaay too long (cuz they were “his guys”).  Johnny Olerud was lighting it up but not playing (37 RBI in 192 plate appearances, Millar 50 RBI in 519 PA…and yes, I just looked it up).  Foulk-ie collapsed completely.  Instead of Pedro and Schill, it was Wake and Arroyo…and Matty Clement started Game 1 and got shellacked.  Guys like Blaine Neal and Chad Harville were getting time…and who remembers 39 year old Mike Remlinger giving up 14 runs in 6.2 innings over 8 games?  I didn’t…looked that up too.  But I remember Clement…and the general feeling that whole year.  Kind of applies here I think…

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to sell off ALL of the good players.  But they can certainly sell off parts.  And investigate selling off anyone.  See what the return is.  The Sox will never sell off anyone, so I don’t believe anything significant will happen.  Unless they are as bad as the Bobby V year in August and someone agrees to come in and do them a favor.  But what are the chances of THAT happening again?

*Lester.  Truth be told, I want the guy back.  I would pay him too, despite being 31 by next year.  I waffled on this for a while.  I never thought he was a #1 pitcher on a staff.  But a pretty good #2 at worst.  Pitched under the bright lights of Boston for his whole career and clearly can handle it.  Pitches great in the playoffs.  Gamer.  Thankfully, Beckett was ushered out of town and Jonny Boy seemed to get back to normal.  I was pretty appalled that Lester ended up treating Tito like garbage at the end of Tito’s tenure, when Tito treated him like a son during the cancer years.  Seems like he had his head back on straight now though.  Regardless, he is not worth what he is most assuredly asking for.  But he’s better than what Uncle Larry (Lucchino) is lowballing him with…4 for 70 mil?  Please.  I want him back for the above attributes…plus some veteran needs to help groom the kids in.  Who better than him?  That being said, if he stonewalls, maybe the Sox can see what the return is?

*Lackey.  Move him.  Today.  He’s going to retire?  Please.  He’s just pissed about pitching for 500k next year.  I suppose I would be too.  But he signed the deal.  And they paid him like 16 mil for a year he didn’t pitch.  And another 16 mil for a year Sox fans wish he didn’t.  F him.  I actually supported the signing when it happened…I mean, can you ever have enough pitching?  But then I saw him making faces and calling out his fielders and yelling at players and all that crap and hated him ever since.  Screw him.  Deal him while he is pitching well (besides last night).  Let the 500k year be someone else’s problem.

*Peavy/Mujica.  Get these guys back to the NL, where they can go back to being mediocre, but successful.  Get anything you can for these clowns.

*Buchholz.  God I would like to deal him.  Done with him all around.  Pu$$Y, simple as that.  But you ain’t getting crap for him now.  Best case scenario is him pitching great in 2nd half, with no pressure of a pennant race.  And then unloading him for hopefully something half-decent.  But wouldn’t expect a lot.

*Koji.  Tough call.  I love this dude.  Who doesn’t??  But the fact is he will be 40 this offseason.  They would have to qualify him at about 15 mil to keep him, from my understanding.  Too rich?  Maybe.  The thing I keep coming back to is that some contending team may pay you a ransom for him.  Simply because of that, it is worth considering dealing him.  It just doesn’t seem realistic that he keeps doing what he has done for the last year over the next year plus.  Doesn’t make sense.  He’s always been a damn good pitcher.  But hasn’t lasted too many full seasons.  I’d at least see what the return could be.  Take it from there.  Who closes after he goes?  Who cares?  Kevin Gregg used to save 35+ games a year. Doug Jones.  A lot of stiffs.  Someone could do it.

*Nava/Breslow.  I lump these guys together because their value was never going to be higher than last offseason.  That was the time to deal them.  Keep Breslow now though…and see if you can get a fringe prospect for Nava,  For Chrissakes, they bought Nava for a dollar years ago.  So the Sox win in the end either way.

*AJ.  Release him.  Today.  The guy is a cancer, can’t catch and was brought on to at least hit and hasn’t done that.  If you can get some kid in 3rd grade for him in a trade, fine.  Get him out of here.  Split Ross and Vazquez the rest of the year.  Mix in Butler if you have to.  Or even Lavarnway for that matter when he is healthy.  Just dump AJ.  I feel pretty strongly about this.

*Gomes.  It’s a matter of time before he starts squawking about losing PT to guys like Holt and Betts…infielders just now learning to play the outfield.  His intangibles are so totally overrated, it is laughable.  Get him out of town before he becomes a cancer like AJ…if it’s not too late.

*Carp.  Haha, who wants this joke?  Why in the world did the Sox not bite in the exhibition season, when teams were “sniffing around” him?  You can find a Mike Carp anywhere.  I think they did find him in Brock Holt…except Holt may be better.

*Drew.  Just the name is enough said.  The signing was a joke…on so many levels.  I think I covered all that.  But if you eat salary, a contender may take him.  Do everything you can to drum up interest.  And then give him away and cut your losses.  He broke up the no-hitter tonight.  See if anyone bites on that!  ANYTHING!!

*Bogaerts.  Don’t even think of dealing him!  But during this horrific stretch, is a wake up call to Pawtucket out of the question?  Although I would be surprised if it happened, I actually would not be opposed to it.  Maybe this stretch before the All-Star break is the time to do it?  May also allow them to give a stretch of time at the big league level to Cecchini as well.

*Kid pitchers.  Time to make some decisions here.  As noted yesterday, they all can’t play here.  They all won’t fit on the 40-man roster at the end of the year.  Some are going to have to be dealt.  Barnes has struggled a bit in Pawtucket.  Britton has as well, but maybe that is because he is not used to pitching out of the ‘pen.  But the others are pitching very well.  Rubby, Webster, Ranaudo, Owens, Workman up here.  Even Steven Wright (though not a kid, but maybe he is as a knuckleballer?).  Time to deal from a position of strength.  Get a young OF prospect.

Regardless, the Sox need to be active at the deadline…or before.  Wishful thinking I know.  Ratings.  Money.  Uncle Larry.  But maybe some sense is out there to be had…

 

 

Mookie-time??

I have to say, I am still undecided on whether I like the Mookie Betts call up at this time.  I have strong opinions on many Red Sox items.  But I am still up in the air on this one.  Maybe throwing thoughts down on paper will help me out.

On one hand, I have been saying all year to “play the kids”.  The Sox won the World Series out of nowhere last year.  They had a team full of serviceable major league ballplayers, but really only a couple of superstars.  Other than Koji and Nava, none of the players really had a “career year”.  They all just meshed together well and basically everything fell all into the right places.  Quite frankly, it is still hard to believe.  They have also won 3 World Series’ in the last decade.  They have a pretty good amount of prospects in the minor league system (at least pitchers).  In reality, the time is probably right to start implementing kids.

On the other hand, where I was completely willing to watch the Celtics lose every game last season in order to get the best pick they could for the recent, supposedly deep, draft, I am unsure I really want to watch the local baseball team tank completely.  It’s kind of the line the Red Sox management team is straddling as well, albeit for vastly different reasons.  I just want them to be competitive because I love baseball and want to see winning action.  We all know the Sox want to do it for ratings and anything else that leads to them making more money.  Even though they will tell you that is not the case.  Sure.

In any event, I was all for them working in SOME of the kids from the start, regardless of whether that meant losing a few extra games in the name of development.  I certainly didn’t think that this method would kill any chances the Sox had this year if they did that.  If the veterans they had continued to do the same things they really always had in their careers, then this plus the kids should have made this a contending team again.  I also left open the possibility of working more kids in over the course of the year, as there would be injuries, there would be underachievers, and there would be guys that you could move for value at or near the trading deadline and not sabotage the chances for the current year.  I actually thought they MAY be able to straddle that line with some success, while also acknowledging the chances of back-to-back World Series Championships were likely slim anyway.

What I didn’t count on was most of the players not even coming close to what they have done in their careers.  As well as a couple of lingering injuries.  And a re-signing that made absolutely no sense.

To recap, I was totally fine with Xander being the SS, Middlebrooks the 3B and Bradley Jr. being the CF at the start of the year.  If the other 6 spots held their own and the great players were still great players, I figured the offense would be fine.  Unfortunately, although Gomes is about the same, Nava plummeted back like he was managing his college team.  Victorino has been hurt the entire time (we knew he would be hurt, but not basically the whole first half).  Napoli was hurt for a bit and I feel he has underachieved when not.  Didn’t love the AJ deal, but for 1 year, I suppose I would be ok.  He would at least hit and maybe we could move him at the deadline.  Work in Vazquez this year with Ross and with an eye to start next year.  But AJ hasn’t really hit.  And more importantly, Pedroia and Ortiz, even though Ortiz’ power has been pretty much there, are playing WELL under their career norms.  Throw in the fact that even the role players that contributed last year, such as Carp and Ross, haven’t been good either.  The Pedroia thing isn’t getting nearly enough play.  It could be that his wrist is still hurt and that is affecting his bat.  If it is, force him to sit by putting him on the DL and make it right.  I’m starting to wonder if his career is heading down the Youkilis path.  Youkie played hard all the time and threw his body around so much that it broke down earlier than most players.  Wonder if Pedroia is going through the same thing, especially considering his size.  Maybe that’s why he bit on the seemingly lowball extension.  He knew it.

Sssssoooooo, there goes that idea.  Then Bradley has sucked more than we thought (at the plate) and Will sucked and then got hurt…and…although Xander at least hit and was developing at SS, the Sox panicked and inexplicably signed Stephen Drew.  Not only is Drew worthless, but Bogaerts has struggled since being pushed back to 3rd.  Not to mention that there will be no room for Middlebrooks when he comes back AND he blocks Cecchini from getting any kind of cup of coffee this year to get his feet wet.  What a joke.  The biggest joke is that they actually caved and gave Drew his prorated 14.1 mil from the qualifying offer that he turned down over the winter.  As I said last year when he signed for 9.5 mil, when they gave him his 10 mil this year, with presumably no interest from ANYONE both of those years, couldn’t they have signed him for 3 mil???!  Who were they competing with?  Who wanted this stiff?  But I digress…

As for Betts, he was not one of the prospects I was expecting to see this year.  Especially since he was only a second basemen at the start of the year.  I figured he was quite a ways away.  Additionally, I figured he would have to learn a new position and that may take time…and it would happen in the minors.  (Kind of bothers me the Sox are seemingly panicking where they are having guys like Betts, Holt, Cecchini and maybe soon Middlebrooks learning new positions on the fly, instead of perfecting them in the offseason…story for a different day).  Mostly, I was thinking the above guys in the field and then some of the pitching prospects.  As they have started to with Workman and de la Rosa (Rubby should have stayed and someone else moved or released or something…again, a story for a different day).  Then maybe work Ranaudo, Britton, Webster, Barnes, etc. in relief toward the deadline and September, with an eye to rotation spots next year and beyond.  Kind of felt Owens was in the same boat as Betts, not here until at least 2015.  Figured some of the young pitchers would also be auditioning for trades…after all, not enough 40-man roster (or rotation) spots for all of them.

Betts has only played a handful of games above Single-A and is learning a bunch of new positions on the fly.  Yes, he has passed every test, at bat and in the field.  But is this pushing it?  If he comes up and looks foolish, does it stunt his growth?  Is he going to be a worse hitter than Bradley?  I’ve long held that the Sox keep their players in the minors for way too long, but I was ok with it in this case.  Just seems too fast.

At this point, I really don’t believe the Sox are going to make some noise in the playoffs however (or to GET to the playoffs, for that matter).  They aren’t that far away in the standing now, with several teams between them and a spot though.  The indications are there that it just isn’t going to happen however.  Even though they will never admit it, some of the vets are surely comfortable after the win last year.  It subconsciously affects them, I am sure of it.  Some of the guys just actually suck, like Drew and Carp.  AJ has brought a “Beckett-type” attitude with him, I am sure of that as well.  That can never be a good thing.

To me, after half a season of evaluation, it is time to start moving some of these vets while they can get something of value for them.  Even a box of baseballs for some.  It’s just not the same feeling.  I’ll detail some of those thoughts in another piece.

But where that leads me to on Betts…is that as this appears to be a season of going nowhere, the Sox may as well have him up and give him regular at-bats until the All-Star break at least.  If the results are bleak, they can ship him back quickly.  If there are positive results, they should play it out kind of like how they seem to be riding it out with Holt (who saw that one coming, by the by?).  But there is no harm in seeing Mookie play a few games at the major league level, I have come to that conclusion.

 

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