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…
As promised, NL squad below. Only 32 players this year, down from 34 in recent years. 22 position players, 10 pitchers, with each team represented (Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule…but…it is the rule). (S) for starter. Comments below each position.
C: Buster Posey, SF (S), Yadier Molina, StL
Sticking with the 2 catcher maximum here. Kind of had to, with these two being their teams sole representatives. So yup, that means I didn’t select Carlos Martinez for my team. Oh well. He’ll be here more than a few times in the future more than likely. Anyway, the only other real option here was J.T. Realmuto. I can’t believe Realmuto has been on the fringe of my team for two years running. Maybe I should reevaluate him.
1B: Joey Votto, Cin (S), Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Ryan Zimmerman, Was, Freddie Freeman, Atl
This is what I wrote last year, “You can probably pretty much pencil in (Anthony) Rizzo and Goldy every year for the forseeable future, barring injury or change in leagues.” Oops. No Rizzo this year. He has rebounded nicely from his early season woes, but it wasn’t enough. Check the water in Zim’s locker. The last time he made an All-Star team was 1909…er, I mean, 2009. But you get the point. .218 in over 400 ABs last year and now at age 32 these numbers? Ok, but he deserves to start. And so does Goldschmidt. But I picked Votto. His numbers are a hair above both. Freeman could probably start too, but he missed half the season. And now he is playing third base. But I couldn’t justify any other Atlanta player being on my team. I don’t care how good Ender Inciarte is defensively.
2B: Daniel Murphy, Was (S), Anthony Rendon, Was, Justin Turner, LAD
Ok, I clearly cheated here. But I had to. To me, Murphs was the only legit 2b I could really consider here. Josh Harrison is a nice player, but not an All-Star. DJ LeMahieu? Nope. Colorado, for one. But secondly, I really don’t understand the infatuation. Whatever. So I am going with a couple of backups that play exclusively 3b now, but have played plenty of second base in the past. And I picked Rendon before his 6 ribbies on Saturday. Turner missed some time due to injury in the first half. But hard to ignore his .377 average and 1.000 plus OPS at the break.
3B: Jake Lamb, AZ (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC, Travis Shaw, Mil
Once again, Arenado gets penalized for playing in Colorado. But once again he deserves to be on the team. Just not starting. I really should have started Bryant, but Lamb has the superior numbers this year. By the end of the year that may be different. Bryant didn’t make the real team. That’s a crime. Sure, he isn’t putting up the MVP numbers of last year, but it’s not like he’s hitting .220 either. He has to be on the team, you know, being the reigning MVP and all. Numbers this year are good enough, I say. To boot, he is somehow my only Cub. Little disappointing over there in ChiTown this year. At least Wade Davis won’t blow my game like he did the real one. Last, but certainly not least…Shaw HAS to be on the team. First, Milwaukee is in first place and deserves more than the one rep they had in the real game. Second? What a stupid offseason trade by the Red Sox. Listen, I wasn’t the biggest Travis Shaw fan. He did fade as the year went on last year. But did they have to basically throw him in the trade for Tyler Thornburg? A middle reliever with apparent arm problems? Just seemed like the prospects the Sox sent should have been enough there. And now Thornburg will not pitch this year and the Sox are rotating between various minor leaguers at third base…after they finally pulled the plug on the Pablo Sandoval experiment. Sigh…
SS: Corey Seager, LAD (S), Trea Turner, Was
Thin yet again. Seager is easy. Turner should be easy…and yes, I know he is hurt. Doesn’t matter. Zack Cozart? Really?
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Marcell Ozuna, Mia (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Cody Bellinger, LAD, Charlie Blackmon, Col, Wil Myers, SD, Aaron Altherr, Phi
Seven outfielders, four third basemen, four first basemen…of course some of those guys will fill the DH role. Once again, the starters were no-brainers. Though I suppose if Bellinger had been in the majors all year, he could have supplanted one of them. Since he’s a rookie, he will have to defer this year, either way. Blackmon has his Colorado numbers, but belongs on the team. I suppose I should have listed Myers at first, since he actually plays there. But I didn’t like the look of five first basemen for some reason. And Myers came up as an outfielder. So…who cares anyway? Myers and Altherr represent the Padres and Phillies, respectively. I don’t care how well Brad Hand pitches in the 6th-7th inning, I couldn’t stomach him being the Padres rep, as he was in reality. He’s a middle reliever on a team that has a closer with a 5.30 ERA (Brandon Maurer). If Hand can’t close over Maurer, he’s not an All-Star. As much as we all love Pat Neshek, same deal in Philly. If he can’t seize the closer role from any of the clowns that have closed for that squad this year (Hector Neris??!)…he is also not an All-Star. I feel better about picking Altherr this year than I do about picking Odubel Herrera last year, I can tell you that much.
P: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Zack Greinke, AZ, Robbie Ray, AZ, Gio Gonzalez, Was, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Ivan Nova, Pit, Corey Knebel, Mil, Greg Holland, Col, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Kershaw is a pretty good pitcher, eh? Once again putting up video game numbers. 14 wins at the break. Nice work. Max and Zack doing what they do. Robbie Ray coming out of nowhere. Well, he was a top prospect, now it appears he has taken the next step at age 25. I took Gio over Strasburg, but both could be here. deGrom is the Mets rep. Toyed with Jay Bruce, but had enough bats already. Nova is the Pirates rep. Underwhelming, I know. The apparently resurrected Andrew McCutchen would probably have been a better choice. But having to take Myers and Altherr and all those other bats left him off in favor of a pitcher. Knebel has been absolutely filthy for the Brew Crew and what Holland is doing in his comeback in Colorado is nothing short of amazing. Jansen has an ERA under 1.00 on that Dodger juggernaut, so he closes my game if it gets there.
There are a few pitchers that may have deserved better…Strasburg, Carlos Martinez, Alex Wood (10-0 at the break, but less innings than other starters), Wade Davis and gulp, Jimmy Nelson (??) could have arguments here. If you like middle relievers, Hand, Neshek and Archie Bradley (1.10 ERA at the break) could be in the discussion as well. Everyone can’t make it. As usual though, I think I nailed both teams!
Of course it was! We are of course talking about David Price…in case that was a mystery. Well, he did sign with the Red Sox about a week ago, so maybe it was…
Sure, he has underperformed in the playoffs, to put it nicely. He has a history of listening too closely to fans/media/outside noise…not a great thing when pitching in Boston. After Game 1 against Texas this past postseason, he claimed that he is nervous in his first postseason start of the year (fair enough), but also nervous during his “first spring training start” and “first bullpen”, etc. And then used some sort of duck analogy. Ok, a little weird. So maybe some of these things are a little concerning. Or a lot concerning.
But the Sox needed an ace…and thankfully they have moved on from the “5 aces” crap of last year. Price was the best out there. The Sox have the money. This move HAD to be made.
You may say giving a 7 year contract to a 3o year old pitcher is stupid. John Henry would have said that last year, but since he changes his mind every year, he didn’t care last week. You may also say well, Jon Lester was age 30 last offseason and Henry and the Sox wouldn’t give him 7 years. I would say the Sox didn’t really want to sign him at any price. I think Larry Lucchino’s original offer of 4 years, 70 million should have told you that right from the start. We’ve covered all that before though…
Let me also ask you this: Would you rather have David Price at 7/217 or Jon Lester at 6/145 (plus 25 more in a 7th year or a 10 mil buyout)? I don’t care how well Lester pitched in Boston, especially in the playoffs. I don’t care if Lester came through the Sox’ system. I don’t care if Jon Lester loves Boston. The answer is easy…and it’s Price. Price is a clear #1. Lester, as good as he was here, really is more of a #2. Take a look at his first year in the National League too. 11-12, 3.34, 207 K’s in 205 innings. Not horrible, pretty good actually. But not worth 25 laaaaaaaaaahge. Obviously there is a long way to go to judge both of these deals. But I’d take Price any day of the week and I think most of you would too.
If you are balking at the deal because of the 217 mil, well, have you seen the other contracts out there? Greinke: 6/206.5. Yikes! But it goes way beyond that. Johnny Cueto is still unsigned. But he wants 25 mil plus. These 3 were the “Big Three” of the free agent pitchers. Fine, give them a boatload of dough. Look deeper at the next “tier”. Jordan Zimmerman: 5/110. Jeff Samardzija: 5/90. Hisashi Iwakuma: 3/45. Mike Leake: Unsigned, but looking for at least 15 mil/per. Mike Leake?? If you ask me, John Lackey’s 2/32 is a steal when compared to the above contracts. But still 16 per for a 37-year-old pitcher.
Sure, the money on the next level is less and the years are less. But I’d still take Price’s contract over any of those. Dig a little deeper. Look at these: Marco Estrada (2/26); JA Happ (3/36); Brett Anderson (1/15.8). Rich Hill had 4 meaningless September starts for the Sox and got 6 mil from one of the cheapest teams out there in Oakland. Switch gears to relievers: Darren O’Day (4/31); Ryan Madson (3/22); Joakim Soria (3/25); Shawn Kelley (who?) (3/15); Tony Sipp (3/18). Throw in position players: Ben Zobrist (4/56); Chase Utley’s corpse (1/7); Colby Rasmus (1/15.8); Asdrubel Cabrera (2/18.5). Chris Iannetta, a 32-year-old backup catcher who hit .188 last year…4.25 mil for him.
Ok, so the last paragraph was likely unnecessary. But I like numbers, so deal with it. The point has been driven home though I think. The money is being spent out there. May as well spend it on the best. Especially when you still have guys like Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello and Wade Mil…ummmmmm, nevermind on him…still in your rotation.
So I liked the Price signing, that’s pretty clear. Did I like the Wade Miley trade? Glad you asked! The answer is…I don’t know. But I think I do. Wade Miley is a nice #4 starter who you can seemingly lock into 30 plus starts and close to 200 innings. That is a positive for any staff. But he is still…Wade Miley. Who is to say Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Steven Wright…or any other Joe Blow can’t step into the #4/#5 starter role and replace him decently enough? Plus, as much as I am not excited about John Farrell coming back as manager next year, when Miley pulled that stunt in the dugout with him after being shelled earlier last year, well, let’s just say I didn’t love that.
So Miley should be replaceable. Maybe his replacement will be Roenis Elias…who knows? Elias is a couple of years younger, so that is a positive…for whatever that’s worth. Losing Jonathan Aro? Meh. Carson Smith? Kind of makes you wonder why Seattle would give up a cheap guy under control for several more years. But trading a reliever for a durable starter? Maybe that’s why. I often would not trade starters for relievers. But again, Miley can be replaced by…anyone. And if Smith can help solidify the back-end of the bullpen…probably worth it. I can’t really get all that worked up about it.
I AM however all worked up about trading Garin Cecchini for a bag of used balls and a couple of beat up fungo bats. Ok, I am not. I did find it surprising that Cecchini was DFA’d over a guy like Bryce Brentz…but since absolutely no one but me cares, I’ll save those thoughts for myself.
So with the signing of Price and 4th outfielder Chris Young and the trades for Smith and Craig Kimbrel, Dave Dombrowski says he is essentially done. (Aside on Kimbrel: I usually don’t love trading for closers when they can be “found” (see: Uehara, Koji). Nor do I love giving up prospects for 60-70 innings a year…4 of them to boot. But I normally would trade prospects for proven players. And I am not sure I am worried about any of the 4 prospects becoming someone the Sox regret they gave away. Even Manuel Margot. The Sox need bullpen help. Sooooo…I came to terms with it).
Anyway, Dombrowski said something to the effect of that he “doesn’t like to lie as it sets a bad example…”. I hope he is stretching the truth then anyway. There is more work to be done. I’d still like to see a solid #2 starter. Is it Eduardo Rodriguez? Maybe. But I sure as hell hope it ISN’T Clay Buchholz. I’d love to see him dealt. It isn’t Rick Porcello…though his contract doesn’t look so bad anymore, no? Maybe Ben was somewhat right on one thing at least. Anyway, there is rotation depth yes, but I’d take another upper end starter. Bullpen? Good start with Kimbrel, Uehara, Smith and Tazawa. Maybe Elias. Maybe Joe Kelly? Matt Barnes? I guess. Robbie Ross Jr. is a decent 10-11 guy I suppose. I wouldn’t mind seeing another proven guy out there though.
Hanley Ramirez has to go as well. Easier said than done, I am well aware of that. But the outfield experiment did not work last year. Do we really think the first base experiment is going to work this year? Cancer in the clubhouse…all that. Just do whatever it takes to get him out of here. I think it happens. But it’s going to take some time…and the Sox eating a lot of dough. Maybe even until spring training when someone on another team gets hurt and a team panics. I don’t know how it will happen, but it needs to. I’d also investigate trading either of Jackie Bradley Jr. or Rusney Castillo. I’m not sold on either of those guys really. Maybe trade one of them while they still have some value. Although I can live with the 4 guys (Young and Mookie Betts the other 2 of course) in the outfield if I have to.
A couple more months until Spring Training…still time to make some decent tweaks to the roster…