Every baseball fan knows that Alex Rodirguez admitted to using PED’s from 2001-2003, but of any player that had a chance for redemption it was A-Rod. He was the MVP. He was the youngest player to reach 500 home runs. He was the player who many would define as the “perfect” player. Rodriguez was going to be the one that would make a run at 700 home runs and even go for the all-time home run record. Would breaking that record be enough for him to un-tarnish his name? That’s what the fans wondered. They will wonder no more.
Rodriguez among with many other big name players, including Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, and Gio Gonzalez, were all linked to Miami doctor Anthony Bosch. Bosch’s records were released by the Miami New Times on Tuesday showing that Bosch had provided players with PED’s including HGH. With this news, it’s hard to believe in the adage of “innocent until proven guilty”, not in the age of Lance Armstrong denying use for years and finally coming clean. It’s especially damning to Rodriguez who may have continued using or at least bought PED’s since his admission in 2009.
With this news, it’s clear to me that Alex Rodriguez will never be a Hall of Famer. He can finish his career with 700+ home runs, win two more World Series rings, even take home another MVP, but he won’t be enshrined in Cooperstown. We have a Hall of Fame player that was busted for PED’s in his career in Rafael Palmeiro that is barely hanging on to the ballot. Sluggers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa with A-Rodesque power numbers that can’t even sniff the 75% needed to get enshrinement. Even if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens break down the suspected steroid user wall and get plaques in Cooperstown, it’s not going to be enough for Rodriguez.
When it comes to PED’s and Cooperstown it’s not three strikes and you’re out. For Alex Rodriguez, two strikes is more than enough. The real problem lies in the $325 million that A-Rod has already made in career, with another $104 million on the way.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.
Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?
We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:
**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**
Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)
International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20
Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”
Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals
IBAF Ranking: 18
Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.
Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers
IBAF Ranking: 16
Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).
Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres
IBAF Ranking: 9
Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.
#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS
Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 7
Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.
**The Dark Horses**
#11: SOUTH KOREA
Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB
IBAF Ranking: 4
Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.
Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers
IBAF Ranking: 10
Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.
Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
IBAF Ranking: 6
Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.
#8: CHINESE TAIPEI
Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 5
Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.
**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**
#7: PUERTO RICO
Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 12
Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.
Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
IBAF Ranking: 11
Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.
Notable player(s): None
IBAF Ranking: 1
Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.
Notable player(s): None
IBAF Ranking: 3
Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.
#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays
IBAF Ranking: 13
Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?
#2: UNITED STATES
Notable player(s): Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager
IBAF Ranking: 2
Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USA. How they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.
Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks
IBAF Ranking: 8
Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.
And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
UPDATE 12:30 p.m. 9/21/12: According to multiple sources, Cabrera has requested that he not be eligible for the NL batting title, and the league has obliged in a one-time exception!
First of all, let me give Melky the thumbs-up for a very smart, classy move. He knows he did wrong and doesn’t want to earn a rare honor based on a tarnished season. No matter how much I despise the guy, I can appreciate and respect this act.
Now the question becomes, why is this a one-time exception? If a player knows he cheated and the league has recognized that with a suspension, why not let them request this in the future? Why not make it a policy, in fact, to banish suspended PED users from award consideration anyway?
That’s all for now…check out the new poll below and let us know how you feel!
——-END OF UPDATE——-
…what? No, no. This must be a joke. BLAST! It’s no gag:
“We’ll see how it all plays out,” baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday after taping an episode of “CenterStage” for the YES Network. “We generally don’t interfere in that process. We’ll take a look at it at the end of the year.”
That quote comes directly from this Fox News story posted earlier today, and also includes this gem:
During the YES interview, scheduled to air for the first time Sept. 27, Selig was asked whether records set during the Steroids Era should be revisited.
“You can’t change records because once you get into that it would never stop,” Selig said. “It would create more problems than it would solve.”
Okay, first things first. It’s not “if” Cabrera wins the NL batting title. It’s “when.” And everyone knows that. I’m sorry, but Andrew McCutchen is not going to hit nearly .500 over the final 14 games of this season and overtake Cabrera. If he does, this blog becomes pointless and worthless and I will gladly eat my words.
“It would create more problems than it would solve?” The problem is that it isn’t being solved! SOLVE THAT, BUD!
Technically, Cabrera stands at 501 plate appearances, one short of the 502 required to qualify. But according to some rule in the rule book of rules locked deep within the rule hall in the annals of Major League Baseball’s rules department, the rule troll himself points out that an 0-for-1 can be added to the average to make Cabrera qualify, as long as it’s still above the second place finisher.
So it sounds as if Cabrera’s testosterone-induced .346 average will stand, no matter how much people like me cry and kick and scream. What I don’t understand is this: how can a Commissioner, so hell-bent on saving his own reputation by instituting one of the harshest drug-testing penalty systems in modern sports, just ignore this incidence?
Selig put so much work into creating a fair, stringent testing system to catch all those Popeye-lookin’ sluggers who were breaking home run records left and right. And now he’s going to let one of the players his system caught make a mockery of it?
And this isn’t Ryan Braun or Barry Bonds – both innocent, technically. This is a guy who was caught this year and said “Sorry I’m not sorry, dudes. I cheated.”
Okay, I’m sure Melky’s admission was a little more professional, but you get my point.
While Selig is in a giving mood, let’s pass out some other free milestones, shall we? Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline both retired with 399 home runs. Screw it, they get 400! Miguel Cabrera needs two more home runs to be leading the Triple Crown categories in the American League. All yours, Miggy! Or this, from Twitter:
If we are giving Melky 1 more PA so he can qualify for batting title, it seems fair we give Omar Vizquel 140 hits so he can have 3000
— Chef Justin (@JGallagher24) September 19, 2012
Baseball is a hard-fought game in which accolades and milestones are earned, not given. And when a player directly, unabashedly disregards the integrity of the game for personal gain, it’s like a slap in the face.
Would you give someone who just slapped you in the face a diamond ring right after? It’s like Paul Edgecomb in “The Green Mile” (R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan) letting Wild Bill Wharton out of prison to accept a Nobel Peace Prize.
Give me a freakin’ break, Selig. Man up and make the move. Cabrera should absolutely not be allowed to win the NL batting title, based on three things:
1) Common sense
2) The integrity of the sport
3) More common sense
All I know is that this is an awful idea. And that Selig would not want this to be his last move as Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
End, rant. Let us know what you think about Melky Cabrera’s likely NL batting title in a PED-tainted season in the comments below. And VOTE in the poll!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
We briefly brought up this topic on our most recent podcast: Should the A’s and Giants as teams be punished further for their PED-suspended players?
Everyone knows the names. Melky Cabrera for San Francisco and Bartolo Colon for Oakland, both major contributors to their respective teams’ success in 2012, were suspended for 50 games apiece by Major League Baseball for testing positive for testosterone.
And under the improved, more stringent suspension rules, they got a fair punishment. Both players will lose a lot of money in that span, don’t get to play in playoff races, and likely will receive a lot less interest as free agents. And even though the teams probably had no idea what was going on, should they be punished too?
Before you jump on me for being “biased” as a Dodgers fan, let me remind you that I’m also an A’s fan. I hate that PED’s are still a part of the game, and am not clamoring for an excuse as to why my Dodgers trail the Giants. The Giants have simply been better, and I’d rather beat them with Melky in the lineup if that was at all possible.
Now, back to the question. I truly believe that players would never screw around with serious PED’s if they knew it would take away wins from the group of guys that become like brothers to them over the course of a 162-game season. Do you think Cabrera would have screwed over his manager and buddies on the Giants for personal gain if he knew the team as a whole would be docked?
Would Colon have cheated if he knew that his rotation-mates and all the passionate fans in Oakland would lose in the win column? I doubt it.
I researched Cabrera’s WAR before the suspension for the 2012 season. It hovers around 4.5, depending on the source. You can reasonably assert that Cabrera was worth 4-5 wins for the Giants before his suspension this season. Colon is a trickier case because he’s a pitcher, but his WAR is listed as 2.8. I feel fine going out on a limb and saying a starting pitcher’s WAR can be doubled, considering they have a hand in every play.
So let’s say Cabrera was worth 5 wins for the Giants this year, and Colon was worth 6 for the A’s.
That would put the A’s in third place in the AL West, way back in the Wild Card race, and scrambling to make a comeback much like their division rival Angels are. It would put the Giants either tied or 1 game back in the NL West, and still on the verge of a Wild Card spot.
Personally, I think it’s worth discussing. Sure, the teams didn’t know what was going on. But they still benefited from the testosterone-fueled success that player may have brought to the team before the suspension kicked in. It may be difficult to figure out a system, but even having that provision in the doping rules would potentially reduce use by a good margin.
Do you think this is something MLB should take into consideration? Should a suspended player’s team also be punished for the wins they accumulated with that player on the roster? VOTE below, and let us know your opinion in the comments!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Well, it seems we know where the PED’s all come from. Much like babies come from storks, presents on Christmas come from the North Pole, and penguins come from Antarctica, all performance enhancing drugs taken by baseball players clearly originate in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I do live here. I am NOT on PED’s. I swear. Test me.
But after Melky Cabrera became the second San Francisco Giant to be suspended for use of an illegal substance, the fun was just beginning. Apparently, the Oakland A’s “fluffy” (for lack of a kinder term) starting pitcher Bartolo Colon wasn’t all beefed up on In-N-Out alone.
He was also suspended earlier this week for use of testosterone, and much like Cabrera, straight up admitted guilt without appealing.
I don’t get it. At least try to fight the suspension. DON’T try to make a fake website. But as Colon and Cabrera have so aptly demonstrated, abandoning your teammates, management and fans is the new thing to do these days.
I won’t go into the detail of why taking PED’s is stupid and wrong and unfair, or how it affects the MLB policies and all that jazz that I mentioned in the Melky blog.
But, I’ll tell you how this affects the A’s: not as much as you might think.
If you haven’t noticed (you haven’t – nobody outside Northern California follows the A’s!), the young pitching staff of the A’s has been absolutely rocking it. And just when the rookies like Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker are beginning to experience growing pains, back come Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to improve the rotation.
Losing Colon hurts. He’s been the team’s most consistent pitcher in 2012 (alas, it was all a dream!). But the two guys they are getting back off the DL are both better than Colon, meaning the A’s may have actually improved their rotation. Imagine that.
So will Colon’s suspension knock the A’s out of playoff contention? Tell us below in the comments!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Perfect Games. Suspensions. Bobby V. Injuries. Three Up, Three Down Fantasy. Sounds like everything you really want to hear!
We touch on all the bases and get to the bottom of those topics one by one. A few of the gang will be headed out to California for a baseball road trip as well, so if you’re around, be sure to let us know!
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or use this link to download on iTunes
My jaw only drops in certain instances where what I’m seeing or hearing is absolutely unbelievable. Today, I was stopped in my tracks when the news of Melky Cabrera’s positive testosterone result came back, and the concurrent 50-game suspension handed down by MLB:
Before we get any farther, let me contextualize the blog – YES, I’m a Dodgers fan. And NO, I’m not happy that Melky is out for the rest of the year.
I have a steamy romance with baseball, and I was hoping this era was completely over after the Ryan Braun saga last season. Finding out PED use still goes on among the biggest names in the sport is like getting punched right in the balls, regardless of the jersey of the prognosticator.
And it’s even worse that the player in question straight up admitted to doing it. Basically, what Cabrera said when announcing the decision wouldn’t be appealed, was “Yeah, I cheated. Oops.”
The way I see it, Cabrera slapped the sport that made him famous (not to mention all the coaches, teammates and fans in San Francisco) right in the face. It was shocking, selfish and disappointing. But what does this mean for Cabrera, his team, the NL West, and baseball as a whole?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Cabrera screwed himself over. It’s a contract year, and he was sure to be one of the hottest commodities in the free agent market with his play over the last two seasons. Now, his future contract is entirely in doubt.
Will any team even take a flier on a guy who nonchalantly admitted to cheating during the only season he’s been a true super star? Probably. But he certainly won’t be paid well.
And now teams will hesitate to look at bringing in a guy who essentially abandoned his teammates in the heat of a playoff race. Someone who clearly cares more about his own statistics than the success of the entire entity that is the Giants.
Speaking of the Giants, they have held a slim lead in the National League West since about mid-July. Cabrera has been a huge part of that. We can close the book on Melky’s final line in 2012, because he’s suspended for the remainder of the regular season, plus some: .346 average, 11 homers, 60 RBI, 13 SB and good defense in the outfield. Not to mention he was leading the world in hits.
How can the Giants replace that kind of production? Even with Hunter Pence in the fold, the already inconsistent lineup now faces a major challenge. That being said, this 2012 version of the Giants is a much better team than the squad that won it all in 2010.
The Giants still have fantastic starting pitching, big bats in Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, and a seasoned manager. Though the Dodgers might be the team to beat on paper now, the Giants are still a legitimate contender. And if they get back and win a post season series (a very good chance, considering their pitching), Cabrera would be eligible to return to the team after five playoff games.
If the Giants want him back.
So…this happened. On a day that was capped off with such an incredible pitching performance, the Melky Cabrera suspension news is slightly buried. And that’s just how I like it.
Fans are sick and tired of players getting on the juice, getting caught, being suspended. It needs to end. It must end. Please make it end.
Hey Melky – Ryan Braun will take that All-Star Game MVP trophy if you don’t mind.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
We touch all the bases in this episode with All Star recaps, first half awards, and our predictions for what will happen in the second half. Tune in, especially if you like fish, because there’s a lot of talk about Trout.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)