Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Sunday, July 02, 2006

All-Star Game Thoughts #11 - Final American League Roster

UPDATE: MLB.com has an article outlining which players were named as All-Stars on the player ballot and which were selected by the Managers. As a result, I'm going to refine the commentary for these positions to reflect that, and adjust my vote for Ozzie Guillen based on the picks that he made.

The picks are in, and as always there are some surprises and snubs. Here are my thoughts on the final American League roster.

C - Ivan Rodriguez (DET)
1B - David Ortiez (BOS)
2B - Mark Loretta (BOS)
3B - Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
SS - Derek Jeter (NYY)
OF - Manny Ramirez (BOS)
OF - Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
OF - Vladimir Guerrero (LAA)

There were two surprises on here, one of which was pleasant and the other to which I was neutral. Jason Varitek, hitting around .250, had been leading the voting for Catchers throughout the entire process. Nevertheless, the fans pulled it off at the end and elected Pudge Rodriguez. While Joe Mauer is the best Catcher in baseball, and should be starting this game, Rodriguez is a MUCH better choice for the honor than Varitek, who simply didn't belong on the team. The other surprise was at 2B, where Mark Loretta made the team in place of Robinson Cano. Cano wouldn't have been able to play anyway, so I guess this is a better choice from that standpoint. Loretta is having a solid season and I can't quibble with it too much.

For a discussion of the rest of the starters, see the posts on the individual positions elsewhere on the blog.

Backup Infielders/Catcher
C - Joe Mauer (MIN)
1B - Paul Konerko (CHW)
1B - Jim Thome (CHW)
2B - Jose Lopez (SEA)
SS - Miguel Tejada (BAL)
SS - Michael Young (TEX)
3B - Troy Glaus (TOR)
2B - Robinson Cano (NYY) - selected but unable to play

There are some head-scratchers on this list, for sure, but also some very solid picks. I'll start with the obvious: Joe Mauer had to be on this team. It sounds like he made it on thanks to the Player's ballot, and that's a nice honor for him. I think a third catcher would have been a smart pick, but at least the two guys that I wanted in at Catcher (Mauer and Rodriguez) made the team.

At 1B, I absolutely agree with the decision to take Paul Konerko. What perplexes me is the Jim Thome pick. Not that Thome isn't having a good season: He's hitting .289, with 26 HR's and 67 RBI's. But taking a look at Travis Hafner's numbers (.313/22/66), I just have to shake my head. This was a goon-pick on Guillen's part (unless, of course, Thome made it on the Player's ballot...then my apologies to Ozzie). Nearly identical in run production, with the better batting average by quite a bit belonging to Hafner; clearly Hafner should have won the spot.

At 2B, I thought Loretta and Mark Grudzielanek (KCR) would make the team. Grudzielanek hasn't had a great season, but he was the best Royal of the bunch and that should have got him in, especially with Cano's injury. That said, I can't complain, because Jose Lopez is on the list and he absolutely deserved an invite.

Over at 3B, I cannot disagree more with the Troy Glaus pick. He and Joe Crede (CHW) have identical RBI totals (57), and Glaus has hit 6 HR's. So far, so good for Glaus. But the batting average split is ridiculous. Crede is hitting .303, while Glaus is sitting at .248. It's shameful for a player with a batting average under .250 to be on the team, especially when there is a player who has comparable run-production numbers available. I'm going to assume that Glaus made it on via the player's ballot, because this would be a stunningly stupid pick if Guillen made the decision.

Finally, at SS, I'm fine with both picks. I had Tejada and Young on my roster, so way to go player's and/or Ozzie, for a couple of fine selections.

UPDATE: Ozzie made only three selections amongst the position players, picking Miguel Tejada and Paul Konerko, along with Jose Lopez (who was a replacement for the injured Robinson Cano). This means that the most egregious infield pick in Jim Thome was selected by the players, not Guillen. This makes me feel better about Ozzie's selections, because I think Miggy, Paul and Jose all deserved to go.

Backup Outfielders
1.) Vernon Wells (TOR)
2.) Jermaine Dye (CHW)
3.) Gary Matthews, Jr. (TEX)
4.) Grady Sizemore (CLE)
5.) Alex Rios (TOR) - selected but unable to play

I can't argue to hard against any of these picks. All of them are in the top-10 amongst AL outfielders in Batting Average, and in the case of Sizemore, he was the lone Indians rep. I will say that Magglio Ordonez (and the Tigers in general) deserved better, and he probably should have made this list. My arguments aren't too forceful, however. As for Carl Crawford, who I had on my final roster; I think it was better for Scott Kazmir to make the team than for Crawford, so I give a thumbs up to that choice, if it was Ozzie's to make.

UPDATE: Guillen picked Grady Sizemore outright and selected Gary Matthews, Jr. as a replacement for the injured Alex Rios. I can't complain about either of these picks.

Starting Pitchers
1.) Mark Buehrle (CHW)
2.) Jose Contreras (CHW)
3.) Roy Halladay (TOR)
4.) Scott Kazmir (TBD)
5.) Mark Redman (KCR)
6.) Kenny Rogers (DET)
7.) Johan Santana (MIN)
8.) Barry Zito (OAK)

So I'm a little pumped, because I correctly called that Curt Schilling (BOS) would get snubbed, and that Kenny Rogers would be the lone representative of the amazing Tigers rotation on the team. I also called Santana's inclusion over Francisco Liriano, something my friend Martin Andrade seemed to dismiss as a possibility. I originally only picked 6 starters, because I can't imagine what you do with 12 total pitchers on the team when you have only 9 innings to use up. I guess that's Ozzie's problem, though.

Of the six that I picked, only Verlander didn't make the team (alright, I just said I predicted that Rogers would be the rep, blah blah blah...look at the post, and you'll see that I originally picked Rogers as the lone Tigers pitching rep, and then added Verlander as an afterthought when I re-adjusted...come on, partial credit?). So, what went right, and what went wrong?

Well, the Redman pick is insane. For the record, Redman is 5-4 with a 5.59 ERA (yipes!). He has 30 K's . . . and 30 BB's. Seriously, this is just a horrific pick. It's also stupid because there are more pitchers than necessary, and Ozzie could have gone with 11 pitchers, including Mark Grudzielanek on the team instead of Redman. Enough on this though; if Redman pitches in the game it will be a travesty.

As for Schilling being left off; there's not much you can do there. Kenny Rogers hasn't pitched as well, but I assume he was voted on by the players, and if you don't take Rogers, you HAVE to take Justin Verlander or Nate Robertson from the Tigers rotation, don't you? Schilling is right around where Contreras and Buehrle are, and while it was probably hoggish of Ozzie not to pick one of his guys and leave the other one home in favor of Schilling, I'm not going to complain too loudly. Schilling deserves to go, but he was caught in a bit of a numbers crunch, and wasn't THAT much better than Buehrle. Remember, Buehrle's numbers also took a hit today; before getting rocked by the Cubs, he actually had a better ERA than Schilling this season.

UPDATE: Guillen added Mark Buehrle, Mark Redman, and Barry Zito to the team. I already commented on what I thought about these picks, and other than Redman they are forgiveable.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Jonathan Papelbon (BOS)
2.) B.J. Ryan (TOR)
3.) Bobby Jenks (CHW)
4.) Mariano Rivera (NYY)

Not much to say beyond what I said yesterday. This is exactly how I thought it would turn out, and Ozzie didn't disappoint.

UPDATE: Guillen added (surprise) Bobby Jenks to the mix. While it's a "homer" pick, and Jenks is less deserving than a number of starters, I'm not going to boo too loudly. I do hope Jenks gets lit up in the inning he's sure to pitch.

Last Player In
1.) Travis Hafner (CLE)
2.) Ramon Hernandez (BAL)
3.) Francisco Liriano (MIN)
4.) Justin Verlander (DET)
5.) A.J. Pierzynski (CHW)

From a practical standpoint, the team doesn't need any more Pitchers or First Basemen, so fans should vote for either Hernandez or Pierzynski to give the club a third catcher (and in that case, Pierzynski has had a better season, so vote for him). That said, of course I'm supporting Francisco's bid for the 32nd spot! Go Francisco!

I'll post the NL version of this sometime later tonight. To sum up this AL version, Ozzie didn't do too bad a job, but it'll be interesting later on to get a breakdown of which players were voted in by their peers, just to see how tightly his hands were tied on some of these picks (*cough* THOME *cough*). I'll give him a B for now, although I might change my mind after I've had a chance to think things through a little more.

UPDATE: Guillen's favoritism towards his own team, which led him to pick Buehrle and Jenks, is slightly offset by the fact that the worst White Sox picks (Thome and Contreras) were made by the players. Nevertheless, his handling of the Kansas City situation was horrible, and I'm going to revise this grade downward a little bit, giving Ozzie a B-.


  • At Tue Jul 04, 07:08:00 PM , Blogger Marty said...

    ESPN ran one of their online polls and Liriano was the #1 snub this year, edging out Nomar Garciaparra. About 57,000 people voted in the online poll. It's not scientific by any means, but a lot of baseball fans who "pay attention" (at least to ESPN) see Francisco Liriano as being All Star worthy.

  • At Tue Jul 04, 07:53:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Lest there be a thought that I didn't see Liriano as being All-Star worthy, I want to point out that when I was putting my roster together I was looking not as much at who should have been picked (that's something I did in the position breakdowns, which I regrettably did not do for pitchers), as I was at who would, in fact, make the team.

    I agree with you that Liriano has had an All-Star caliber season, and hopefully his showing on ESPN demonstrates that he'll do well in the voting and make it onto the team.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home