Tagged: Matt Kemp

Insanity in San Diego: Greinke Injured in Brawl, Kemp and Quentin Fight After Game

dodgers padres brawl

Update (4/12/13): Greinke is out for approximately eight weeks. Quentin has been suspended for eight games, Hairston, Jr. for one game. Both of those players have appealed.

This blog has already morphed and transformed 100 different times tonight as more and more details are released about the ridiculous brawl at Petco Park. We have embedded videos from sources like MLB and ESPN to give you a clear timeline of what went down. Enjoy the madness, and vote in the polls below!

Bottom of the 6th inning:

Carlos Quentin, leading off the 6th for the Padres (who were down 2-1 at the time), took the count to 3-2 against Zack Greinke. That next pitch got away inside and nailed Quentin on the elbow, at which point he charged the mound. You can see the fight in its entirety here:

As many Tweeters reminded us, Quentin routinely leads the league in hit by pitches:

These things happen when a batter crowds the plate and takes away the pitcher’s inside corner. And it doesn’t help that Quentin clearly has no idea how to get out of the way of an inside pitch (from the first game of the series on Tuesday):

As you see in the video of the brawl, Quentin and Greinke collided shoulder-to-shoulder, and the 50-pound advantage of the batter definitely took its toll on the smaller pitcher. The benches cleared as Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis tackled Quentin to the ground. Many people thought Greinke may have yelled something to Quentin after the beaning, which this ESPN video shows is true (embedding ESPN videos does not work on WordPress):

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:9162952

My expert lip-reading abilities tell me that Greinke said something along the lines of “F— off.” Hardly grounds for a rage-induced attack on Quentin’s part. For all I know, Greinke may just have been tired of Quentin’s act, as a fellow NL West pitcher became last season:

Before we go any farther, let me bring you back a few years…

April 8th, 2009:

Different teams, a different division, in a different league; same matchup. In Greinke’s 2009 Cy Young year with the Kansas City Royals, he beaned then-White Sox Quentin in the 4th inning of an early-season game. Quentin took a step toward Greinke before being cooled off and taking first base.

After that outing (the Royals won 2-0), Greinke said it was an accident, and even mentioned that he was “scared” for Quentin at first, thinking it might hit his head:

“He had a reason for [being upset],” said Greinke of Quentin. “Any time you throw it that high, it’s justified. You’ve got to be better than that and not pitch like that. You’re going to make mistakes, but the last thing you want to do is hit someone where it could seriously hurt them. As soon as I let go of it, I was scared for him.”

So there was history. Whether or not it was intentional then, or intentional this year, is a matter we can likely never pinpoint. But in both instances, Greinke held a slim lead–hardly a situation in which you want to put anyone on base purposely.

Unless Quentin slapped Greinke’s mother years ago for some unknown reason, there is no motive for Greinke to throw at Quentin in the first place. Not to mention, that little dust-up was four years ago now. That’s a long, long time for someone to hold a grudge in sports.

Okay, memory lane was fun. Let’s bring it back to present day…

Halfway through the brawl:

In the video of the fight, you can see Matt Kemp going absolutely bonkers in the scrum (kerfuffle, if you will). At one point, he had multiple teammates restraining him after getting in a face-to-face shouting match with Padres manager Bud Black.

After it looked like the dust had settled, Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston, Jr. took off toward the Padres dugout with his finger pointed at someone. If Don Mattingly’s postgame comments are any indication, the Padre in question was backup catcher John Baker, who was raised in my hometown of Walnut Creek, CA and does not seem the type to be involved.

But as Hairston, Jr. tweeted later, he was going at the Padres because he saw a player making fun of Greinke:

Finally, the skirmish ended and Greinke was walked off the field by head trainer Sue Falsone. The umpires eventually ejected the pitcher, along with Quentin, Kemp, and Hairston, Jr. Shortly thereafter, Chris Capuano relieved Greinke on the bump for Los Angeles, and promptly allowed a game-tying single.

Though the unlikeliest of heroes, Juan Uribe, went deep later to help seal a 3-2 victory for the Dodgers, nothing could take the sting out of the news that broke after the game.

Postgame press conferences:

As soon as the game ended, fans demanded answers. Mattingly was happy to give them his, with multiple microphones stuck in his face. But first, the Dodgers got awful news regarding their $147 million pitcher:

According to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who is by no means a medical expert but does his research very thoroughly, the Dodgers can expect to miss Greinke for at least six weeks:

So needless to say, Mattingly was upset with the result of everything except the win. When pressed about the incident, Mattingly referred to Quentin as an “idiot” who has “zero understanding of the game of baseball,” given the situation in which he charged the mound.

Most shockingly, the skipper also declared that Quentin deserved to be suspended for as long as Greinke was on the shelf. Many writers on Twitter agreed with this sentiment, and yours truly can’t argue the idea. Of course, Quentin won’t get a lengthy suspension. Chances are, he’ll be looking at a four or five game suspension at the most. But we will have to wait and see what kind of action the league decides to take, and also to see if they discipline Kemp for his actions.

As if Quentin needed anyone else against him, A.J. Ellis told Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that a few Padres apologized to him on their teammate’s behalf:

We also have the video of Quentin’s postgame chat with reporters here, which is full of blame deflections and question avoidance. Black, Quentin’s manager, said the history between the two players did play a part in the brawl. Greinke responded with some comments of his own, insisting he didn’t mean to hit Quentin and never has in the past. Plus, additional notes from Mattingly on the injury at the beginning of the video:

After cooling off, you’d think the situation would be put to rest. Alas, this night got crazier…

In the clubhouse tunnel:

Kemp couldn’t let the issue go, and stayed extremely fired up at Quentin for injuring Greinke. He went after Quentin by the player’s exit, reportedly asking why he charged the mound and ended up injuring Kemp’s teammate:

The Associated Press was able to snag a picture of the two players arguing (see below) before they were separated. The scene could have gotten much uglier, but it was luckily diffused in time. On one hand, you have to admire Kemp’s willingness to defend his pitcher and not back down from what he considered a threat. Leadership like that can pull a team closer together.Matt Kemp, Carlos Quentin

But on the other hand, the last person the Dodgers need getting suspended or playing upset is Kemp. The star center fielder is already struggling with the bat so far in 2013, and needs to recognize the difference between playing hard and playing pissed.

At the end of the night, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (who was injured in the World Baseball Classic and has been on the DL all season) tweeted a slight silver lining, apparently in an attempt to calm the angry hordes:

So the Dodgers won the game, the series, and a bit of hope from Ramirez. But losing Greinke is a huge blow for the Dodgers pitching staff, who will likely replace him with either Ted Lilly or Chris Capuano–both massive downgrades. San Diego and Los Angeles reconvene at Dodger Stadium for a three-game set on Monday, prompting the Dodgers official Twitter account to put out this gem after the game:

At the very least, that series will be under an intense microscope by fans, players and journalists everywhere. For the Padres, a chance to be relevant. For the Dodgers, a chance to prove that they are more than a rich all-star team–that they can win with talent and heart and team chemistry.

Stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down for more coverage as the news continues to roll in. Please vote in the polls below, and feel free to share your comments with us, too.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE us on Facebook at Three Up, Three Down for all your breaking MLB news!

Simmer Down, Negative Nancy — Kemp Will Be Fine

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS VS LOS ANGELES DODGERSI may be the only person in the world who doesn’t think Matt Kemp’s 0-for-10 start to the season is a big deal. Like, the entire world.

We’ve got columnists writing columns about his “slump”; we’ve got Tweeters a-Twittering over the lack of #Beastmode; we’ve got reporters reporting and annoying Don Mattingly to no end with inane questions about Kemp’s sudden “inability” to hit.

Let me first remind you that Kemp is a very good hitter in April, historically. Let me then remind you that over his last 1,000 at-bats or so as a Dodger, Kemp is hitting .315 with over 60 home runs and just under 200 RBI. Let me also remind you that he had major shoulder surgery in the off-season and couldn’t even swing a bat until about a month ago.

And then let me tell you why Kemp’s 0-for-everything start is not a big deal:

1. He’s swinging it well

Yes, he’s taken a couple bad third strikes and rolled over on a couple of very fat pitches (you think he doesn’t realize this?). Also, he’s been basically worthless with runners in scoring position, failing to accumulate a single RBI despite four opportunities with men on base in last night’s game against the Giants. But what is lost amid the flurry of anarchy is that he stroked a deep fly ball right to Angel Pagan in his first at-bat against Tim Lincecum, and then hit a hard line drive right to Pagan again in his second at-bat. Similarly, he put a couple good swings on the ball against Madison Bumgarner the night before that went right at someone. You can stare at the .000 batting average as long as you want, but it won’t tell you the whole story.

2. He’s Matt Kemp

Aside from his rough 2010 season (he still accumulated nearly 30 homers and 90 RBI), in which he hit a paltry .249, Kemp has been stellar and consistent throughout his tenure as a Dodger. He’s never hit below .290 or had an on-base percentage below .340 in any other season in the big leagues. The man is a good hitter, who like all other good hitters, will have his streaks and his slumps. But Dodgers fans know better than anyone that an 0-for-10 quickly turns into a 10-30, which quickly balloons to a 20-50. The hits will fall, people. Please have patience.

3. He’s not alone

I can’t believe I have to resort to this, but it seems only fair given the general psychosis surrounding Kemp’s slow start. Just to appease the masses, I’ve compiled a quick list of other notable sluggers who have struggled in their first three or four games of the year (you know, out of only 50 times that many over the course of the season…). Note: Chris Davis will NOT be appearing on this list.

In no particular order: Paul Konerko (1-for-12), Jason Kipnis (0-for-9), Albert Pujols (1-for-11), Josh Reddick (2-for-13), Jose Reyes (1-for-8), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-12), Joey Votto (1-for-10), Giancarlo Stanton (1-for-9), Allen Craig/Matt Holliday combination (6-for-31), Jayson Werth/Adam LaRoche/Danny Espinosa combination (2-for-32)

Do you feel better now? Do you really think any of the men listed above are going to fall into a spinning whirlpool of doom? Please return to your normally scheduled lives now, and find a real topic to complain about. Writers, maybe you can jump on Carl Crawford’s fast start or Michael Morse’s 162-homer pace instead? Not news? Okay.

Don’t forget to vote in this poll below, which I had absolutely no influence over…

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your comprehensive baseball coverage!

3U3D Break It Down: The N.L. West

On one hand, the San Francisco Giants are the defending world champions and can look forward to having a full season of Hunter Pence in the middle of their lineup. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Dodgers went out and spent about 500 Houston Astros to acquire the most powerful lineup in the league and add a second ace to the rotation. And don’t forget about the Arizona Diamondbacks, who this writer believes is a dark horse to win the West with a more balanced lineup and a ridiculously underrated pitching staff. Sorry Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres fans…your teams just won’t cut it this year. Let’s break down the N.L. West:

Predicted Order of Finish: Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies

A.J. Ellis, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Mark Ellis

Why the Dodgers could win the N.L. West: There’s a difference between what the Yankees used to be hated for doing every off-season and what the Dodgers did this winter. Rather than just throwing the most money at every ego maniacal  overage player on the market, Los Angeles actually went out and acquired new corner infielders, a leadoff man, and a top of the rotation pitcher who they believed would mesh into an already-tight clubhouse and contribute on the field. Taking a chance on Carl Crawford might pay off huge for the Dodgers, who can use him as an invaluable trading chip at the deadline if he’s playing well (remember, Yasiel Puig should be nearly ready by then). With Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top, it’s easy to overlook the fantastic spring from Hyun-Jin Ryu, too. But with a strong rotation, good bullpen and explosive lineup, a lot of things will have to go wrong for the Dodgers to not at least be in the hunt down the stretch.

Why the Dodgers wouldn’t win the N.L. West: I’m not buying into the whole “team chemistry” issue, and not just because I root for the team. The Dodgers in the preseason seem to have become a fraternity of sorts, without the cheap beer and piles of laundry. Anyway, there is something to be said for the injury history of key players on this team. The entire starting outfield has had recent issues, both middle infielders have encountered some bad luck lately, and three-fifths of the starting rotation either had problems throughout the 2012 season or during this spring. If the injury bug doesn’t hit Southern California, there is always the possibility that Greinke bombs and the Dodgers are left leaning on Kershaw as the lone stud pitcher, which could mean big time trouble.

SF Giants

Why the Giants could win the N.L. West: The Giants won the World Series last year, god forbid Angelo or I forget it. And they’ve been one of the models of consistency throughout the regular season over the last few years. It’s scary that this 2013 team, on paper, is their best in years. We know the pitching staff is dominant, even with Tim Lincecum struggling, and Sergio Romo anchors a very good bullpen. But the biggest reason you might see the Giants make another run at defending their division and world titles is because their offense is going to be MUCH better than people are expecting. Angel Pagan is in his prime, and we know what Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Pence can do in full seasons. Additionally, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford seem to be getting better with the bat every week.

Why the Giants wouldn’t win the N.L. West: At the rate the Dodgers improved their roster and the ease with which they gelled in spring, it might just be bad timing for the Giants. They could still be just as good or better than last year and miss out on the division title. But the two guys who could really end their dreams are the city’s newest hero and the city’s oldest. Lincecum looked awful again in the spring, and could cost the Giants in the long run–Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong are all either good or great pitchers, but nobody ever had the consistency that Lincecum had during his glory years. And Marco Scutaro is bound to come down to earth. As a 37-year-old middle infielder, chances are his .362 average with the Giants in 2012 drops back to around his career average of .275.

Diamondbacks

Why the Diamondbacks could win the N.L. West: As I mentioned in the intro, this is the most dangerous team in the league that nobody is talking about. When you have to send Tyler Skaggs, one of the better rookie performers of last season, to the bullpen because your rotation is already too stacked, you are pretty set for pitching. And the level of talent in the lineup can’t be understated. Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt, and Martin Prado are all signed for the long run, and are complemented by a strong outfield group and a powerful second baseman in Aaron Hill. This team loves playing together and now that it cut out the cancer of Justin Upton, manager Kirk Gibson can take control and mold the team as he pleases.

Why the Diamondbacks wouldn’t win the N.L. West: Not only are the two teams that finished above Arizona last year improved, but questions do linger in the D’Backs starting rotation. As high-potential as it might be, you never know what you’re going to get from Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill, and Brandon McCarthy is always on the DL. Furthermore, how will the offense respond without long-time outfielders Chris Young and Upton no longer in the clubhouse or lineup? I have faith in Jason Kubel and new addition Cody Ross, but I’m not sure if either will be reliable enough over the course of an entire year.

Padres

Why the Padres could win the N.L. West: Because you never know. Who in their right mind would have thought the Orioles or A’s would have represented the American League in the playoffs last season? The Padres do have a scrappy team of mostly unknown players who proved they can play some good ball. Down the stretch in 2012, they played spoiler and looked like a legitimate dark horse playoff team. If they can carry some of that momentum over and get a full season out of closer Huston Street and slugger Carlos Quentin, San Diego will turn some heads. They have some solid young hitters like Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin who could completely turn around the team’s fortunes if they continue to progress, too.

Why the Padres wouldn’t win the N.L. West: They just don’t have enough. The pitching rotation is not deep and it’s very inexperienced. The bullpen has some fire, but it isn’t on par with the three teams ahead of them. And the facts that Yasmani Grandal will be suspended for 25 games and Chase Headley, far and away their best player, will be nursing an injury and start the season on the DL, make a death sentence. I truly think the Friars are close to contending (give it two more seasons), but this is a year they focus on building some of the young talent.

Dexter Fowler

Why the Rockies could win the N.L. West: Let’s put it this way: Most players in the Colorado lineup know how to hit baseballs very far. Last year, they were the most prolific offense in the National League, and they didn’t even have Troy Tulowitzki around, or Michael Cuddyer for much of the year. The fact that both of those guys will be back (at least to start the year) is a terrifying proposition for opposing pitchers. In 2012, the Rockies scored 758 runs and hit .274 without their two stars. Those numbers could go up, believe it or not, in 2013.

Why the Rockies wouldn’t win the N.L. West: Is it possible the Rockies score 10 runs per game? Sure! But if they give up 11, it doesn’t matter. The pitching staff, on the other end of the spectrum, was god awful. The worst in baseball by a comfortable margin. And the Rockies really didn’t do much to improve that particular aspect of the team over the winter. There is some promising young talent in the farm system, but nowhere near the level they need to be competitive. And even some of the best potential has been wasted once their fastballs start sailing through the thin Rocky Mountain air in Denver.

Awards Watch

N.L. MVP

Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers

Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants

Martin Prado – Arizona Diamondbacks

Chase Headley – San Diego Padres

Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies

Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants

Brandon McCarthy – Arizona Diamondbacks

Rookie of the Year

Hyun-Jin Ryu – Los Angeles Dodgers

Adam Eaton – Arizona Diamondbacks

Jedd Gyorko – San Diego Padres

So will the Dodgers steal the division away from the defending champs? Do the D’Backs sneak up and surprise everybody? Can Colorado or San Diego battle for the cellar or make spoiler runs? Comment below!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

The Mapes Top 20 Right Now, Part Four

We’ve finally reached the pinnacle.  You’ve climbed the mountain and finally get to see who I think is the best player in baseball right now!  Or if this is the first one you’ve read, in that case check out 20-16, 15-11, and 10-6 that got us here.  If you’d like to see the entire MLB Network “Top 100 Right Now” list, click here.  Time for the top five, with a player who I think is underrated by MLB Network’s list.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 11.12.03 PM#5, Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB Network’s #4)

I ended the last blog with a Dodger and starting this blog with a Dodger.  Matt Kemp has the potential to be the best player in the game.  We saw it in 2011 when he put together a near 40-40, Triple Crown season, while leading the NL in runs and RBI.  That wasn’t enough to get him an MVP award, which is why I have the next player ahead of him.  Hopefully, Kemp’s hamstring woes are behind him and he becomes the dominant, durable player he was before 2012. Ridiculous random list that this player is on!  Players since 1980 to lead their league in runs scored, runs batted in, and home runs in the same season: Mike Schmidt (1981), Ken Griffey Jr. (1997), Alex Rodriguez (2007), Albert Pujols (2010), and Matt Kemp (2011).

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 11.48.53 PM#4, Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB Network’s #6)

What more does Ryan Braun need to do to get respect?  He wins the NL MVP in 2011.  Braun then loses his protector in the lineup in Prince Fielder to free agency, but has his first 40-homer season.  The Hebrew Hammer also adds in 30+ plus stolen bases for good measure.  Five-straight all-star appearances, five-straight Silver Sluggers, and he’s led the National League in OPS each of the past two seasons.  The defense might not be spectacular, but you can make the argument that the other tools make Braun the best hitter in baseball.  Ridiculous random list that this player is on!  Players in the history of Major League Baseball to have a 30 home run, 30 stolen base season, while leading the league in OPS: Hank Aaron (1963), Dale Murphy (1983), Barry Bonds (1990, 1992, and 1995), Larry Walker (1997), and Ryan Braun (2011-2012).  Braun is the ONLY player to achieve the feat in back-to-back seasons.

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 12.23.07 AM#3, Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (MLB Network’s #2)

I have no qualms with Verlander being MLB Network’s runner-up, but I’m lowering him down to #3 only because I devalue pitching.  I almost even dropped him behind Braun.  Enough negative stuff though, Verlander is the clear best pitcher in the game today.  There is no pitcher (Kershaw could get there) where you’re watching every start, because there’s a real chance a no-hitter will be thrown.  That’s what Verlander brings to the ballpark every fifth day.  Verlander also does so much for the Tigers bullpen by leading the league in innings pitched the past two years.  He even went 63 straight starts pitching at least six innings. Verlander in 2011 was the first starting pitcher since 1986 to win an MVP award and does more to help his team than any pitcher in the game today.  Ridiculous random list this player is on!  Pitchers since 1946 to lead their league in innings pitched AND earned run average: Sandy Koufax (1965-66), Greg Maddux (1993-95), Randy Johnson (1999 & 2002), Johan Santana (2008), Felix Hernandez (2010), & Justin Verlander (2011).

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 12.53.59 AM#2, Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (MLB Network’s #3)

What batter would you want to have up with your World Series on the line?  Too soon, Tigers fans?  Cabrera is the best slugger in the game and proved his with his monstrous 2012 season in which he became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown.  He doesn’t run much and the defense is still so-so adjusting to third base, but man can he hit.  He’s not just a slugger with eight 30-homer seasons in his first nine full years, but also hits for average!  Cabrera has never hit below .292 in a full season and has back-to-back batting titles on his mantle.  He’s still in his prime too!  I can’t imagine if he actually IMPROVES on his Triple Crown season.  No random list, but here’s a fun stat: Every MLB Triple Crown winner, also led their league in OPS, maybe it should actually be the Quadruple Crown?

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 1.11.15 AM

#1, Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (MLB Network’s #1)

It’s pretty anticlimactic that I actually agree with MLB Network’s best player in the league right now.  The term “five-tool player” gets thrown around a lot, but in one season Trout has proved he’s the best all-around player in the game.  Whether it’s home run-robbing catches, speed on the base paths, hitting for average, or blasting 30 home runs despite not being called up in the first three weeks of the season, there is nothing Mike Trout can’t do.  Even if he regresses in his sophomore season, his numbers will still be eye-popping.  If I told you last year that a kid that wasn’t even going to start the season in the Majors would be #1 on this year’s list you’d have thought I was crazy, but that’s where we are.  One last time!  Ridiculous random list this player is on!  Players in American League history with 30+ home runs and 47+ stolen bases in the same season: Mike Trout (2012), that is all.

The list is complete!  Who would top your list of the best players in MLB right now?  Let me know in the comments or tweet me using the link below with #MapesRightNow!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The 2nd Annual Jeremy vs. Mapes MLB Jersey Draft

I’m sure some or maybe all of you have heard that Jeremy and I made the top 52 for the MLB Fan Cave in 2013. We’ve been blown away by your support so far and we want to start by saying thank you.

Now for the main event! The 2nd annual jersey draft battle! I may have had the worst pick in the draft last year (Adrian Gonzalez, who’s no longer on the Red Sox), but I did score the NL MVP’s jersey (Buster Posey) with the 2nd to last pick. Plus, I got to give grief all season for Jeremy picking Matt Cain 4th overall.

The rules are simple: I will pick 1st because Jeremy had the first choice last year. Jeremy will get 2nd and 3rd picks and then alternate from there. What we’re looking for in our jersey investments are quality of player, potential time in uniform, and overall awesomeness. You can only have one player, per team on your own draft. Both of us can pick a player from the same team, for example Matt Cain/Buster Posey and Miguel Cabrera/Prince Fielder were all picked last year. It does play into strategy, because it let me wait on Posey, knowing Jeremy couldn’t take another Giants player. Without further adieu!

Team Mapes Pick #1, #1 Overall: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Last year, I picked Albert Pujols at #3 overall based on the long length of his contract ensuring great use from his Angels jersey.  This year, Trout is the most exciting player in the game and is under team control through 2017.  Trout’s jersey’s the hands down top pick to me.  You’re getting five seasons of sweet-jersey wearing time. Bonus points for completing the Trout ensemble with a foam Trout hat. I might have just let Jeremy get a steal of Pujols or Josh Hamilton later in the draft though, time will tell. You’re up Mr. Dorn. I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll be repeating your top pick from 2012.

Team Jeremy Pick #1, #2 Overall: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles

Two things: First, Mapes is absolutely correct. No way I’m not going to take my first overall pick in last year’s draft, Matt Kemp. Not only is he under contract in Los Angeles through the decade, but when healthy he is the best all-around player in the game. Teammates like him, fans like him, and even opponents like the laid-back, uber-talented center fielder of the Dodgers. He came freakishly close to a Triple Crown and 40/40 season in 2011, and will look to return to that form after injuries derailed him last year. Oh, and secondly — give me crap all you want for the Cain pick, but the dude threw a perfect game last season and I hypothetically had that jersey!

Team Jeremy Pick #2, #3 Overall: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

I snatched this pick off Mapes’ team from last year, and I’m glad I did. Votto has been one of the most consistent, destructive hitters (when healthy) since he entered the league, and will be mashing in Cincy through 2024 under his current contract. Votto should always be a favorite in the National League for the MVP award, given his batting average, on-base percentage, power numbers and defense in a given year. Plus, the jersey just looks GOOD!

Team Mapes Pick #2, #4 Overall: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

There are so many options at this pick it’s ridiculous. I don’t want to talk (or type) out loud and give you any ideas though! I think that Cutch was going to be your next pick so I’m grabbing him now. He’s under team control through 2018, a great player, and completely entertaining as evidenced by his MLB Fan Cave videos. He’s a player you WANT to root for and a baseball fan that has a Pirates jersey when they finally end their sub-.500 season streak will be looking good. That being said, I really hope you don’t take the player I strongly considered here. McCutchen moves up from the #8 jersey overall selected in 2012.

Team Jeremy Pick #3, #5 Overall: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

Oh, yes I did just pick the J-Hey kid from your own squad! No way I’m letting you stack your lineup with one of the best and most popular players in the game today. After a dismal sophomore season in 2011, Heyward bounced back to prominence and beyond in 2012, and will be a power-hitting, web gem-making, on-base getting (huh?) beast for at least the next four years in Atlanta. Snag his jersey now, before it’s too late. Mapes, when you’re done crying that I’ve drafted your boy, feel free to make your next pick!

Team Mapes Pick #3, #6 Overall: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU JEREMY?!?! I’ll have to console myself with the TWO Jason Heyward shirseys that I have hanging in my closet. Don’t worry, I have a plan for my Atlanta Braves pick later. There’s only one real way to get back to you and that’s with a picture of the Giants having a champagne celebration. When was the last time the Dodgers did that? Posey is a great jersey pickup, solid name, defending NL MVP, and safety of knowing he’ll be in the orange and black for a long, long time. Plus, Posey and I are birthday buddies on March 27th!

Team Jeremy Pick #4, #7 Overall: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

That is a low blow, my friend. I’ll pretend there is just a bubbly leak from the sprinklers in that clubhouse picture. Jones is quickly climbing the chart of all-around athletes in MLB and fans are really starting to take notice. Not only is Jones a graceful defender, but he’s only just starting to fully develop the offensive side of his game at age 27. He’s signed in Baltimore through the 2018 season and is extremely close to breaking into McCutchen popularity territory in my opinion. This is the only orange and black jersey in my collection this year, Mapes!

Team Mapes Pick #4, #8 Overall: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Adam Jones is a solid pick, but I’d rather have a new Orioles hat than a jersey, I think. I’m going back to an MVP I took at #5 last year. Braun is basically going to be a Brewer forever, or at least 2020 seems forever away. He’s been consistently good so far in his career and I don’t think there will be much of a drop off later in his career. It’ll always be cool to wear a Braun jersey, especially in the Badger State. Eight picks in and we have six National League player jerseys…interesting.

Team Jeremy Pick #5, #9 Overall: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Given recent news, that pick could become problematic for you. I really hope it doesn’t, and I’ll give you mad props for taking the risk. I’ll continue the run on National Leaguers with the first pitcher of the draft. Of all the exciting young pitchers who I was eligible to select here (remember, I already took Kemp, so Clayton Kershaw was out of the question), I wanted to snag one of the most popular pitchers in all of baseball. Strasburg is a freak of nature on the mound and lights up the radar gun and TV ratings every time he pitches. Not to mention, he’s locked up through at least 2017.

Team Mapes Pick #5, #10 Overall: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Thanks so much for letting me wait and just steal Bryce Harper at the end of the draft. This pick was basically made for me with the news of King Felix’s extension. He’s now the highest paid pitcher in the history of the game, that shows to how great he is. He’s a Cy Young award winner, the face of the Mariners franchise, and you’ve gotta love the King’s Court fan base. Seven years in a Seattle uniform and those trade rumors go away? I’m sure there will be a large influx of Hernandez jersey’s flying off shelves. Let’s just hope they don’t change their uniform scheme.

Team Jeremy Pick #6, #11 Overall: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

I have a couple of things to say about that pick: First…SO LUCKY! If only that news had broken after you made your pick. Second, the Mariners should never change those awesome uni’s. Anyway, I’m going old-school with the Jeter pick. One of our criteria is length of contract, which will obviously not last forever for DJ. In fact, in the unlikely event that he declines his option for 2014, this could be his last year in baseball. But some players’ legacies live on forever, and this first-ballot Hall of Famer is one of them. His jersey was still the top-seller in all of baseball in 2012, and will be popular for years to come, and not just in New York.

Team Mapes Pick #6, #12 Overall: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

I can’t hate on the Jeter pick even though his time is almost up. The Yankees #2 will join #3, #4, #5, #7, and #8 as timeless jerseys to wear for Bronx Bombers fans. You know who’s time isn’t almost up? Evan Longoria. The Rays all-star is under team control through 2023. I would type that year in all caps, but the year is numbers. Hmm… he will potentially be a Ray for the next DECADE. There that works. I’ve had a Longoria shirsey for three seasons now, I hope it doesn’t wear out over the next ten.

Team Jeremy Pick #7, #13 Overall: Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

You know what is a formula for success? Besides signing Albert Pujols and Hamilton in successive years, I mean? It’s taking the guy who had MLB’s second-highest selling jersey in Texas last year, and moving him to Los Angeles for at least five years, where his jersey sales will go flying off the shelves again. You’re going to see a ton of Hamilton jerseys in Anaheim this year, and if this draft weren’t hypothetical, I’d be sporting one myself.

Team Mapes Pick #7, #14 Overall: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs

What’s not the formula for success? You taking your Angel when you could’ve waited until the end to grab him. Plus, I think I take the extra years of jersey wearing from an Albert Pujols Angels jersey over Hamilton, but I digress. Can you believe Starlin Castro is only 23 this season? Seems like he’s already been around forever. He’s under team control until 2020, which also gets you through Castro’s prime. You’ll be singing “Go Cubs Go” in the bleachers for a long time rocking the Castro jersey. Bonus that the Cubs will never really alter their jerseys.

Team Jeremy Pick #8, #15 Overall: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

Except that the Cubs might still be irrelevant in 2020. Just kidding. Castro is a cool pick, but I’m going with a different shade of blue on this pick. In his return from injury, Joey Bats will enjoy the comforts of a much-improved team in 2013. If the entirety of Canada didn’t already have his jersey, they will after this season when the Jays are sure to be featured on national TV broadcasts as much as possible. He’s signed through at least 2015, and will probably have his option for 2016 picked up by the team.

Team Mapes Pick #8, #16 Overall: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

I really want to take Giancarlo Stanton, but his uncertainty in Miami worries me a ton. My final two picks I already have planned out in my head from teams you’ve already taken. That leaves Tulo, who is so talented, but has the injury problems galore. When he’s healthy, he’s an All-star and a potential superstar. He could be in the purple and black for the rest of this decade, so you’ll get plenty use of this jersey.

Team Jeremy Pick #9, #17 Overall: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I’ll admit, I was hoping Tulo would slide to me at this pick. But a very nice consolation prize is somehow grabbing the best overall catcher in baseball this late. The Cardinal jerseys are classics, and Molina is the best all-around player wearing one right now. He had one of the top-selling jerseys last year (probably mostly Cardinals fans), and will be wearing the birds on the bat until at least 2017, likely beyond. He may be one of the least appreciated players in baseball, but I’m showing him some love in the jersey draft for the second straight year!

Team Mapes Pick #9, #18 Overall: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Molina was on my short list, but after what the Cardinals have done to me the last two years I just couldn’t do it. Speaking of team jerseys I don’t want to wear, but I’m going to be objective here. Harper is a future star of the game and will be in the nation’s capitol for three years or more. I’d lean towards the or more part. I don’t like him, but I respect the way he plays the game. It’s a solid jersey for a fan to buy. Plus, I got out of picking David Wright at least?

Team Jeremy Pick #10, #19 Overall: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays

This. Just. Happened. The reason I let you snag Evan Longoria earlier is because I knew I’d have this available to me for the last pick. Myers, the top prospect in baseball, isn’t a sure thing — no prospect ever is. But he’s going to get a chance to play every day for the Rays, who have him under control for at least six years, and will likely lock him up for longer as soon as he puts in a little service time. Judging by the last 15 position players who won Minor League Player of the Year (Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Jason Heyward, Mike Trout to name a few), Myers is going to be a very good player in the Majors, and I’ll be the first to have his pretty-lookin’ Rays on my back. Top that, Mapes!

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Team Mapes Pick #10, #20 Overall: The Upton Brothers, Atlanta Braves

How do I top that? By going with the sweetest custom jersey in Braves history. You get not one, but BOTH Uptons. Special thanks to them for deciding to wear single digits to make this work. I went with the 82 because Justin plays in left, therefore his number goes on the left. This jersey will be good to go for 3-5 years and even if one leaves, just pull off one of the numbers and the S and you’re still set. Truly, saved the best for last!

Honorable Mention Team Mapes: Giancarlo Stanton-Marlins, David Wright-Mets, Justin Verlander/Miguel Cabrera/Prince Fielder-Tigers, Joe Mauer-Twins, Martin Prado-Diamondbacks, and Eric Hosmer-Royals

Honorable Mention Team Jeremy: Clayton Kershaw-Dodgers, Carlos Gonzalez-Rockies, Aroldis Chapman-Reds, Mariano Rivera-Yankees, David Price-Rays, Carlos Santana-Indians, Yoenis Cespedes-A’s, and Jose Altuve-Astros

There you have it. The 2nd annual Jeremy vs. Mapes jersey draft is complete. Now it’s up to you, readers! Vote in the poll below to tell us if Mapes will take home his second consecutive jersey draft title, or if Jeremy strengthened his squad enough to earn the victory. Here are the overall teams:

Team Mapes: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Felix Hernandez, Evan Longoria, Starlin Castro, Troy Tulowtizki, Bryce Harper, Justin/BJ Upton

Team Jeremy: Matt Kemp, Joey Votto, Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Derek Jeter, Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Yadier Molina, Wil Myers

Remember, vote for the 10 jerseys YOU would rather have, not which group makes up the best hypothetical team. Let us know in the comments which jersey you want in your closet! Thanks for reading! You can like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook or follow @3u3d on Twitter!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman) & Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Derek Jeter and the 5 Players We Can’t Imagine in Another Jersey

Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.

Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.

None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.

Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.

But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:

*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*

1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.

2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.

3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.

4. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)

Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:

If you like what you see, you can follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Is This the Greatest Bobblehead of All-Time?

I realize that’s a bold statement. But it’s a pretty epic bobblehead. THE ARM BOBBLES!

Look, we’ve done the Bobble Battle on Three Up, Three Down once. Mapes destroyed me (though recent reports indicate he has ingested significant amounts of In-N-Out laced testosterone before blogging and will probably be suspended for about 50 minutes – I win by default!) in the Sid Bream Slide vs. Vin Scully bobble poll.

A straight travesty.

That being said, the Dodgers are on a roll in 2012 with bobbles. Scully, Kemp, Valenzuela, and from the end of July, a Kirk Gibson bobble.

But this isn’t a normal bobble. His head nods and shakes and does all that crazy stuff. But it is in commemoration of the iconic home run Gibby hit in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Boom. Flashback!

You all know the story. The Oakland A’s (playing in their first of three straight World Series, in which only 1989 would they be victorious), were the best team in baseball. They sent their star closer Dennis Eckersley to the mound to close out Game 1 of the ’88 series.

Gibson was the Dodgers’ star hitter that year, but had been hobbled by not one, but TWO ankle injuries. He wasn’t supposed to play. He said screw that, grabbed a bat, and made his way in to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. After a solid at-bat, Gibby finally got a hanging back door slider that he promptly whacked into the right field bleachers for a walk-off homer.

The Dodgers would end up winning that World Series, the last time they ever even appeared in the Fall Classic.

Speaking of classic, you know how the theatrics unfolded after the ball left the bat. A stumbling, limping Gibson making his way around first base and pumping that right arm in rhythmic fashion with a huge smile on his face. Manager Tommy Lasorda jumping up and down on his way out of the dugout to celebrate. Two historic calls by historic broadcasters Jack Buck and Vin Scully (“I don’t believeeeeee…what I just SAW!” – Buck/”In a year that has been so improbable, the IMPOSSIBLE has happened!” – Scully).

It’s not only one of the greatest postseason moments in Dodgers history. It’s one of the most incredible playoff moments in baseball – hell, sports – history! And the manufacturer did it right by adding a BOBBLE ARM to the piece.

The final product depicts Gibson rounding the bases with fist pump in full effect. So is it the greatest bobblehead of all-time? That’s asking a lot. But it’s got to be up there.

So I pose the question, baseball fans. Where would you rank this Kirk Gibson bobble head AND arm on your personal rankings all-time? Have you seen any better than this?

And for what it’s worth…yes. I am currently on eBay looking for a Gibby bobble. Don’t judge.

VOTE!

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Mapes vs. Jeremy Round Three: The Home Run Derby Draft

Alright. This is it, people. My long-awaited redemption in the Mapes vs. Jeremy challenge. I may have lost the jersey draft war. I may have lost the bobble war. But today, we take the voting out of YOUR hands. Just as the All-Star Game should.

Anyway, we will draft four players each out of the eight home run hitters who elected to participate in the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby. For the uninformed, that means choosing from Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo (A.L.), as well as Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran and Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen (N.L.).

This is how the point system works – we are relying solely on moon shots generated from these swaggering men’s powerful swings. In the 1st round, one point will be awarded per home run. In the 2nd round, two points…3rd round, three points. Plus, a saucy little five-point bonus for drafting the winner.

For the sake of Babe Ruth, let’s get this thing started:

1st Pick: Prince Fielder, Tigers (Team Jeremy)

It’s hard to go against my boy Matt Kemp, and even harder to not piss off Mapes and take his boyfriend, Stanton. But my theory with the Home Run Derby is that the big boys will go absolutely crazy in the 1st round. And there isn’t much more power packed into any body in baseball than that of the Tigers’ Prince Fielder. I’m going to enjoy watching him launch balls out of Kaufman Stadium all night, and happily mark down my points to go with it. Prince has already won a Derby, so he knows what it takes. Besides, is there any cooler home run swing in the game?

2nd Pick: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (Team Mapes)

What is up all of these “may haves” in the intro? You DID lose the jersey draft war. You DID lose the bobble battle. You WILL lose the Home Run Derby slugfest. You alluded to it in your choice of Fielder, so I will not disappoint the 3U3D fan base. You weren’t on the podcast this week, so you didn’t hear that I was picking my “boyfriend” Stanton to win. I’ve seen him hit batting practice and it’s a thing of beauty. He’s young and chomping at the bit to make a name for himself on the national stage. The outfield Kauffman waterfalls are no big deal to Stanton. He’s used to water being sprayed when he homers because he sets off the home run sculpture in Miami all the time. He has the best raw power of any participant, plus who else this season has broken a scoreboard on a grand slam? No one. I get all excited just watching this.  (Editor’s Note: Stanton may be unable to participate with a sore knee, if he doesn’t then Mapes will get his replacement.)

Well looks like I’m going to end up with Pirates Andrew McCutchen instead.  He did have two home runs today, so looks like he is ready to go.  He also could be the N.L. MVP right now.  Was kind of hoping this would end up being Bryce Harper though.
3rd Pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees (Team Mapes)

You took Fielder who won the Home Run Derby in 2009, so I’ll grab the other player that has a Derby championship trophy on his mantle. Cano’s swing is just absolutely beautiful and works in any ballpark. Plus, you have to love the story of his father, Jose, pitching to him. Worked once, don’t see why it can’t work again. Cano is a captain for a reason. He’s been on an absolute tear as of late with nine home runs since June 17th. Did I mention Cano crushed your 1st pick Prince Fielder 20-9 in two rounds last year? Take a look. Be careful, this video is long because he hit so many bombs last year.

4th Pick: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (Team Jeremy)

The raw power in this draft is unbelievable. I had a heck of a time trying to choose someone in this spot, considering all parties involved are mashers of epic proportions. In the end, I went with Joey Bats, also known as the Major League Baseball home run leader. Again. He’s on pace to approach 55 dingers and already had nearly 100 round trippers in 2010-2011 combined. Bautista said on MLB Network recently that he doesn’t try to hit home runs, he just tries to hit it hard somewhere. Well, when opposing pitchers make a mistake, that hard-hit ball usually lands in the upper deck. Imagine how many times that will happen in an event where the pitcher is purposely making a mistake on every single throw. Boomtown!

5th Pick: Mark Trumbo, Angels (Team Mapes)

Bautista doesn’t try to hit home runs? That’s not good in a competition where you’re trying to hit home runs. Which was probably why Joey Bats was eliminated in the 1st round last year with a paltry four homers. I’m going to the the master of the Trumbomb. Our friend Ricardo Marquez campaigned for him hard from the MLB Fan Cave and will be on the field shagging fly balls. I hope ESPN catches every reaction he makes when Trumbo puts one out. Trumbo has an effortless, uppercut swing that will play well in the Derby. I think I’ve picked the two strongest players in the competiton, they won’t wear down easily. Based on our picks, looks like we think Team Cano is going to win the overall title.

6th Pick: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (Team Jeremy)

It was a toss-up here for me between the two Carloses (Carli?). Both have sweet swings, but I’ll take the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols replacement. If the powers that be allow him to, Beltran could maybe take hacks from both sides of the plate, as he’s got a solid power stroke from either side. Don’t let the fact that he’s a little smaller than some of these other guys fool you. I’ve seen him put one out into Big Mac Land at Busch Stadium from the right side and into the upper deck from the left side. Did I mention Beltran started his career in Kansas City, so he’ll be playing in front of an assumedly friendly crowd? He could very well be the fan favorite coming into this, and I’m thrilled to have him on team Jeremy.

7th Pick: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (Team Mapes)

You fell right in to my trap. I didn’t want to root for Beltran, plus I thought you’d might be a sucker for your boy Matt Kemp. I’m a little worried that his power might dip a little bit from Coors Field to Kauffman Stadium, but I still think it’s a better risk than the player who has had five at-bats since May 13th. Kemp when healthy last season only had two home runs in the Derby, good enough for last place. Give me the Derby devil I don’t know over the Derby devil I do. Consider letting you have your favorite player a gift for beating you in our first two match-ups.

8th Pick: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (Team Jeremy)

And what a sweet trap it is! You realize you just let me take THE one and only Beast Mode with the very last pick in this draft? Yes, Kemp has only hit 12 homers this year, but remember he’s had about 15 at bats. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But Kemp has been out for a solid chunk of the first half, and all he wants to do is be good at baseball-related activities again. I don’t think he’ll win it, but he’ll definitely put up more than TWO bombs this year. The 2012 version of Matt Kemp is even better, when healthy, than last year’s 39-homer, version. This might be the greatest Mr. Irrelevant choice in drafting history if he goes deep into the contest.

I’ll tell you right now Jeremy.  CarGo will have more home runs than Matt Kemp.  Irrelevant sounds about right for that pick.

Who do you think will win the Home Run Derby battle?  Who wins the entire Home Run Derby?  Let us know!

-Jeremy Dorn (@JamblinMan) & Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Projecting the NL All-Star Roster

Yesterday, I gave you my projected A.L. All-Star roster that can be found down below this post. Today with the final voting update being released for the National League, let’s see if I can figure out what the N.L. roster will look like. I’m really glad that Tony LaRussa retired and has a ton of time on his hands to figure out the roster, because this thing is pretty tough. Especially trying to put a Padres representative on the team.

Catcher

Starter: Buster Posey, Giants

Reserves: Yadier Molina, Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

This will be a close battle all the way to the end as Molina may still end up starting the game. Posey could be in danger of not making the game if not named the starter as Molina and Ruiz are the two clear-cut top catchers this season. LaRussa could decide that two catchers are enough and go with an extra back-up somewhere else.

First Base

Starter: Joey Votto, Reds

Reserve: Martin Prado, Braves

This is where I had to get creative. No offensive position has gone without a backup since Derrek Lee in 2005 for the N.L. In that game, Morgan Ensberg who was designated as a 3B moved over to replace Lee in the game. In 2002, Alfonso Soriano was the only 2B for the American League and Omar Vizquel switched over from SS to play 2B. There is precedent to not have a backup 1B and I don’t think there should be. The only one I can make a case for is the Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be bad if he becomes Arizona’s lone representative over a deserving Wade Miley. Prado is a versatile player that plays outfield, third base, and first base for the Braves. He’s a deserving All-Star, but N.L. outfield is so deep (we’ll get to that soon) that this is a way to get Prado on the team. I’m still figuring out why there are 873,526 wasted votes on Ryan Howard who hasn’t played this season.

Second Base

Starter: Dan Uggla, Braves

Reserve: Jose Altuve, Astros

Uggla has fallen off hitting just .179 in the month of June, but Braves fans have continued to vote for him. He has a healthy lead on Brandon Phillips going into the final stage of voting. Altuve has been a find for the Astros hitting over .300 and being 5th in the league in hits. Phillips gets bumped to the Final Vote as the only infielder represented.

Shortstop

Starter: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals

Reserve: Starlin Castro, Cubs

The injury woes of Troy Tulowitzki will allow Furcal to make his 3rd All-Star team in 13 seasons and it’s deserved. Furcal looked done after last season, but has bounced back to hit .287 and be solid atop the Cardinals lineup. Castro is the Cubs lone representative for the 2nd straight year. Pretty impressive for a 22 year-old.

Third Base

Starter: David Wright, Mets

Reserves: Chipper Jones, Braves and David Freese, Cardinals

I’ve made it clear previously that I think that Chipper Jones should be starting the All-Star Game in his final season. Here’s my solution. The National League will need a designated hitter, so who better than Chipper Jones? He could have his moment like Cal Ripken did in 2001 and David Wright still gets to start at 3B like he deserves. I’m sure Chipper’s knees would also appreciate not having to play the field. Freese has been solid for the Cardinals as he’s top 10 in the league in HR’s and RBI. I’m sure LaRussa will bring him along after his postseason heroics in 2011.

Outfield

Starters: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, and Ryan Braun, Brewers

Reserves: Melky Cabrera, Giants, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers

This is by far the deepest position in all of the Majors. Not making the team includes Michael Bourn, Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence who have all been fantastic. Mike Trout was able to make my A.L. squad, but the deepness at the position here blocks Bryce Harper from making the initial squad at 19 years old. There is still a tight battle for the final starting spot between Braun and Cabrera, but both will make the team. Gonzalez and Stanton are being snubbed by voters, but will be the solo representatives for the Rockies and Marlins respectively. Ethier sneaks in the final outfield spot as he’s helped keep the Dodgers afloat in Matt Kemp’s absence. Kemp’s injury will hopefully open up an extra spot for Bourn, Holliday, or Pence.

Starting Pitcher

Starter: R.A. Dickey, Mets

Reserves: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, Wade Miley, Diamondbacks, Johnny Cueto, Reds, James McDonald, Pirates, Lance Lynn, Cardinals, Chris Capuano, Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

The battle to be the starting pitcher couldn’t be any closer between Dickey, Strasburg, and Cain. I just think that Dickey is such a wonderful story that it would be amazing to have him start the game, so I gave him the edge. My American League roster had eight starters, but there are so many options in the N.L. that I upped it to ten. Even that wasn’t enough as Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke get snubbed. I believe that LaRussa will err on the side of the Cardinals and take Lance Lynn for the last pitching spot. Wade Miley is rightfully Arizona’s only representative.

Relief Pitcher

Reserves: Craig Kimbrel, Braves, Aroldis Chapman, Reds, and Huston Street, Padres

Kimbrel has been lights out all season. Chapman had been perfect up until recently, but they are the two fireballers that the senior circuit needs to close out the game. Street goes to the game because I couldn’t figure out another way to get a Padre on the roster. I couldn’t have Carlos Quentin take a spot from one of the outfielders, Chase Headley over David Freese, or have Yonder Alonso be the back-up 1B. Street missed time with an injury, but has a 1.50 ERA and 0.78 ERA when healthy this season.

Final Vote

Michael Bourn, Braves, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Brandon Phillips, Reds, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Bryce Harper, Nationals

When I originally wrote out my roster Harper making the Final Vote didn’t even cross my mind. Then I had an epiphany, there is no way MLB doesn’t put Harper in, just to stir up some excitement for it. There are great voting fan bases represented in this final vote and I sadly couldn’t put in Zack Greinke. Greinke and Hamels will hopefully make the team on the “pitcher pitching Sunday” rule. Bourn has been wonderful leading off the Braves lineup and is among the league leaders in WAR. Brandon Phillips might make the All-Star game as a starter still, but him being in the Final Vote let’s him use his social media skills to the fullest.

Team Breakdown

Cardinals-5

Dodgers and Braves-4

Giants and Reds-3

Mets, Nationals, and Pirates-2

Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, and Marlins-1

Unlike the American League, I feel like there are a ton of snubs on my National League team. Joel Hanrahan, Tyler Clippard, Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinke, Hunter Pence, Ryan Vogelsong, and Jed Lowrie just to name a few. Who would make your National League roster? Let me know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The “Perfect” National League All-Star Ballot

Unlike the American League ballot, the National League isn’t being dominated by any one team. Giants fans have rallied together though as the 2nd ballot release had Buster Posey pass Yadier Molina at catcher and Pablo Sandoval go from 4th to 2nd at third base. I even saw a #VoteBelt hashtag on Twitter last night. I get voting for your favorite team, but if you vote for Brandon Belt for the All-Star team, you don’t deserve to vote for the President of the United States in November. Can we make that happen?

As I did with the American League, I will break this up into my pick, who’s acceptable to vote for, and players that are currently placing that you probably shouldn’t be throwing support to.

Catcher

Mapes Pick: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

Bold statement alert: My top five catchers in the NL, Ruiz, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, A.J. Ellis, and Jonathan Lucroy (before he got hurt) deserve to start the All-Star Game over any catcher in the American League. I can’t discourage you to not vote for any of them, but I’m giving my edge to Chooch. The counting numbers between Posey, Molina, and Ruiz are all tight. Ruiz has the advantage in average and OPS on the other two and has been the Phillies offense with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out.

I love Brian McCann, he’s one of my favorite players and he’s a consistent All-Star caliber player, but in 2012 his numbers don’t stack up. I can’t argue against voting for anyone else. Unfortunately, I have to add Lucroy to the don’t vote list due to his injury, but he’s been great this year.

Enjoy this video from Gordon Mack of the MLB Fan Cave is support of Chooch for the All-Star Game.

Acceptable to Vote For: Buster Posey, Giants, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, and A.J. Ellis, Dodgers

Please Stop Voting For: Brian McCann, Braves and Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

First Base

Mapes Pick: Joey Votto, Reds

He was my N.L. MVP pick at the start of June and there is no doubt he is the best first baseman in the National League. Fans are easily getting this one right as Votto has 1.25 million more votes than 2nd place Lance Berkman.

Acceptable to Vote For: No one else

Please Stop Voting For: Everyone else

Second Base

Mapes Pick: Dan Uggla, Braves

This pick is BARELY over Jose Altuve of the Astros. They’re two different players so they’re hard to compare, but I think Uggla’s numbers are slightly better and he’s been more important to a better team. Altuve deserves to make the team as a reserve over well known names like Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks and will more than likely be Houston’s lone representative in K.C. I can’t go as far as saying don’t vote for Phillips and Omar Infante, but they haven’t been nearly as good as the first two. Rickie Weeks is hitting .166 this season and is 5th in the voting. What a waste of 642,184 votes.

Acceptable to Vote For: Jose Altuve, Astros

Please Stop Voting For: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

Shortstop

Mapes Pick: Starlin Castro, Cubs

I might be penalizing Troy Tulowitzki too much for missing the last two weeks with an injury, but it’s not as if Castro hasn’t earned the starting spot. Castro is currently the only National League SS hitting over .300 and is 4th in the NL in hits and 5th in stolen bases. Tulowitzki has actually upped his voting lead on Cardinals Rafael Furcal since the last update. If he can come back this week and do what Tulo does, he’ll end up the starter.

Jimmy Rollins actually jumped into the top 5 since the first update. If someone can explain to me why that happened, I would be most appreciative. Phillies fans should be rallying around Carlos Ruiz, not Rollins. However, I guess Rollins is better than Alex Gonzalez who was 5th in the original release.

Acceptable to Vote For: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals and Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Please Stop Voting For: Jimmy Rollins, Philles, Jose Reyes, Marlins, and Alex Gonzalez, Brewers

6/14 Update: Troy Tulowitzki re-injured his groin on rehab and needs to be re-evaluated.  I’m moving him out of the “Acceptable to Vote For” area for now.  As pointed out in the comments where’s Jed Lowrie?  I had him and Ian Desmond just under that same area, but I have no problem with voting for either of them over Rollins, Reyes, and Gonzalez.  They’re both distantly behind Castro and Furcal though to me.

Third Base

Mapes Pick: Chipper Jones, Braves

No doubt my most controversial pick. I akin this to Cal Ripken’s final season where he was voted to start the All-Star Game. I believe that Jones deserves the same honor. David Wright is having a fantastic season as he is top 3 in average, OBP and OPS. Pablo Sandoval is a solid player, but missing that time with a broken hamate bone should knock him out of contention. He somehow made up enough ground to go from 4th to 2nd in the All-Star voting. David Freese has been on a tear all season and deserves to be there, I’m sure Tony LaRussa will make room for him. Third base is a deep position this year, but the Chip should get one last trip out of respect.

Acceptable to Vote For: David Wright, Mets and David Freese, Cardinals

Please Stop Voting For: Pablo Sandoval, Giants and Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield

Mapes Picks: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, and Melky Cabrera, Giants

This is the toughest choice. I can make a great case for ten players to be in the top 3. Instead of telling you why not the other seven, I’ll tell you why these three. Beltran has been one of the best if not the best free agent pickup this season. Beltran leads the NL in home runs, 3rd in RBI, 3rd in slugging, 5th in total bases, and 6th in OPS. Hard to not have the best home run hitter in the league so far make the team.

Cabrera leads the NL in batting average, hits and triples, while being 3rd in runs scored and total bases. The Melk Man has delivered for the Giants as a spark plug for the offense.

Which brings me to Carlos Gonzalez. Who is egregiously 10th in the NL OF voting. I’m not sure what else CarGo needs to do to prove he belongs in Kansas City. He leads the NL in runs scored and total bases. He’s 2nd in the league in RBI, slugging, and home runs. Plus, is 3rd in OPS. I can’t figure out how there are nine players let alone nine outfielders that you can put ahead of him.

Andrew McCutchen (11th) and Giancarlo Stanton (not in the top 15?!?!) deserve some more love too. The Pirates are in first place and McCutchen has been fantastic, it’s not like Pirates fans have a lot of other guys they should be voting for too.

Ryan Braun was the toughest omission as he’s been great for the Brew Crew, this is the deepest position in either league. It will be interesting to see who LaRussa has to “snub” in this. I haven’t even gotten Michael Bourn who leads all NL outfielders in WAR or Andre Ethier who leads the league in RBI. Just incredible.

There’s also some guy name Bryce Harper you might have heard of. Unlike Mike Trout, who I had starting in the outfield for the AL, Harper gets blocked in the NL from the depth at the position. I could see him making a splash at the Home Run Derby though.

Should Matt Kemp be starting the game? Probably not. It’s hard to have a player that is going to have played half the games of some of the other players. It appears as if the fans will vote him in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kemp takes the break off for his hamstring and focuses on his Home Run Derby captainship. That hurts to say as Kemp had one of the greatest months in MLB history.

Acceptable to Vote For: Ryan Braun, Brewers, Michael Bourn, Braves, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Hunter Pence, Phillies

Please Stop Voting For: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Jason Heyward, Braves, Jay Bruce, Reds, Shane Victorino, Phillies, and Jon Jay, Cardinals

Who would crack your NL All-Star ballot? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)