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…
So I know this is generally a football pick column…and it will be eventually…but we would be remiss if we didn’t give some comments on the Boston Red Sox re-signing of Nathan Eovaldi earlier this week.
For a quick refresher, this is what we wrote about a month ago:
“…The way Major League Baseball is trending, with “bullpen games”, the Sox technically don’t have to do anything here next year. WHAAAAAAAT???!! WHAT ABOUT EOVALDI??!! Nate Eovaldi has a special place in my heart for the way he pitched in the postseason this year. He always will. Especially that relief appearance in Game 3 of the World Series…in a game they actually lost. What an effort though. A guy with past arm trouble and free agency looming could have easily begged out of that game at any point…even at the beginning, seeing he had pitched in relief the first two games. He didn’t and became somewhat of a legend.
But give him 15-20 mil a year for 4-5 years? I’m not so sure about that. Seems like a risk. Past arm problems. But more importantly, past mediocrity. 44-53, 4.16 career heading into his age-29 season. Love the guy to death. But I think I am passing…”
Has my opinion changed? Actually, no. All around. Still will love the guy, no question. But not backing up the Brinks truck for him. Above all, he just hasn’t taken the ball enough in his career.
Turns out ol’ Nate got right about in the middle of what we had mentioned, about 17 per. A lot of dough seemingly just to reward someone for one postseason.
On the surface, this must slot Eovaldi into the 3rd or 4th slot in the rotation for 2019. Chris Sale and David Price go 1-2, Eovaldi and Rick Porcello go 3-4 and Eduardo Rodriguez would be 5. Steven Wright, Hector Velasquez and Brian Johnson give you 6-8 depth. Can’t complain about that staff on paper certainly.
The salaries? Listen, the Sox can spend whatever they want. We know this. John Henry ain’t hurting for funds. BUT…Price 31, Porcello 21 plus, Nate 17, Sale 15…heavy. E-Rod probably gets a nice bump in arbitration as well…because…everyone always does in that process.
Some have speculated that maybe Eovaldi may close this season, what with the likely departure of Craig Kimbrel. Unlikely. Good closers may approach the 17 mil per. But we don’t even know if Nate can be a good closer…he’s never done it. And with his injury history, not sure the Sox should even consider it. Despite his bullpen efforts in the postseason last season.
One thing it does tell me? Either Sale or Porcello will be allowed to walk after the 2019 season. And you heard it here first: The Blowhard believes that there is a greater likelihood that Porcello will be back in 2020 than Sale. Sale is clearly the better pitcher. By far. But with his health history, will they shell out probably over 25 million per for that uncertainty? Heading into his age-31 season? Not so sure. The team babied him more than ever last year. And he threw a mere 158 innings.
As mediocre as Porcello can be, he takes the ball every turn. He will also be heading into his age-31 season. The Sox may be willing to give him another 20 plus for a few years than 25-30 plus for Sale over likely more seasons.
Sounds silly, but let’s see how it plays out.
In summary, we obviously don’t love the Eovaldi deal. Just a little too much risk for me. But it’s not my money. And after dissecting things a little more, it may not be completely insane.
Again, let’s see how all this plays out in 2019.
And if they win another World Series, I guess who gives a rat’s ass?
As for football:
Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland
Carolina has lost 4 in a row and is 1-5 on the road. I really want to pick the Browns here. But…I can’t…
Carolina 23, Cleveland 20.
New York Jets at Buffalo (-3.5)
Buffalo 17, New York Jets 13.
New York Giants at Washington (-1.5)
Mark Sanchez. And Josh Johnson.
I know, Odell Beckham Jr. is not playing. But it shouldn’t matter. Let’s also talk for a second about Colin Kaepernick. Washington is taking a lot of heat for signing those aforementioned stiffs over Kaep. Welp, I can see both sides. First off, a team would really have to change a great deal of their offense to sign and play Colin. And with a mere four games left, is it worth it? Johnson may be the literal definition of “journeyman”. But he has a history with Redskins coach Jay Gruden. That does matter, unfortunately.
One thing people fail to consider is the fact that Kaepernick is actually not very good. And now he hasn’t played since 2016, where he “led” the Niners to a 1-10 record in his appearances. Sure, there are so many bad backup QB’s in the league, he probably deserves a job somewhere. But we have also heard, and maybe inaccurately, that he has had opportunities to sign…and they weren’t for enough money to his liking so he passed. Yeah, this last point could be bogus. But I’m not ruling anything out with this guy.
Bottom line, Kaep still stinks and hasn’t played in two years. He’s probably good enough to hold a clipboard on some team…if he wants to. But would it really make a difference in Washington? That’s for everyone else to decide, not me…
New York Giants 20, Washington 13.
Atlanta at Green Bay (-5.5)
Let’s now see if it was Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay 38, Atlanta 24.
New Orleans (-8.5) at Tampa Bay
After that dud last Thursday against the Cowboys and the early season loss to the Bucs at home, this feels like some kind of hurtin’ is about to be put on.
New Orleans 45, Tampa Bay 20.
Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5)
Are the Ravens someone to worry about as we head toward the playoffs?
Baltimore 37, Kansas City 34.
New England (-8.5) at Miami
New England 30, Miami 24.
Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5)
If you asked me last week, I would have picked the Colts here to end Houston’s 9 game winning streak. But not after that putridness against the Jags a week ago.
Houston 34, Indianapolis 28
Denver (-5.5) at San Francisco
The Broncos are still in the mix…amazingly enough. Losing Manny Sanders will hurt. But not this week.
Denver 27, San Francisco 17.
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Chargers (-14.5)
The Bungles are cratering. Seems like too many points here though, even for the Chargers at home.
Los Angeles Chargers 34, Cincinnati 20.
Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona
I read something Saturday about Matt Patricia’s “father-son” relationship with Chandler Jones. I was moved. Really. But maybe it’s because I read it right after I smoked some synthetic weed and ran shirtless to the local police station. Oh wait…
Detroit 24, Arizona 14.
Philadelphia at Dallas (-4.5)
Winner of this one takes the NFC East in my opinion. Although…maybe not. Before I looked at the remaining schedules, I had a feeling that the Eagles were ready to make a run. Then I saw they play at LA Rams and then at home against the Texans after the Cowboys (finishing against the Redskins in Washington). While the Cowboys play the Colts, Bucs and G-Men. Advantage: Dallas.
Dallas 27, Philadelphia 24.
Pittsburgh (-11.5) at Oakland
The Steelers should win this game pretty handily. But the way they are playing, who the hell knows?
Pittsburgh 38, Oakland 31.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Chicago
Can’t say I’m completely on the Bears’ bandwagon. Whatever.
Los Angeles Rams 34, Chicago 24.
Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5)
The Seahawks will be rolling into the playoffs. The Vikes aren’t impressing anyone. ‘Hawks are at home. We are all pumped and jacked!!
Seattle 31, Minnesota 20.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 103-90
Season (straight up): 122-71