Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Saturday, July 01, 2006

All-Star Game Thoughts #9 - NL Roster

UPDATE - This is the second version of the roster that I've put out. See the above post for more information on what changed my thinking.

Talk about tough; the American League roster was manageable, although picking the Starting Pitchers to make the team wasn't easy. It was at least as hard in the National League, and affected a lot more decisions further down the line. For an explanation of the principles behind selecting an All-Star roster, and why the players on the final roster don't always match the players I said belonged in the game position-by-position, see the post immediately below this one on the AL Roster.

C - Paul LoDuca (NYM)
1B - Albert Pujols (STL)
2B - Chase Utley (PHI)
3B - David Wright (NYM)
SS - Jose Reyes (NYM)
OF - Jason Bay (PIT)
OF - Carlos Beltran (NYM)
OF - Alfonso Soriano (WAS)

As on the American League side, I don't have much more to say on the starters beyond what I said in the positional breakdown posts.

Backup Catchers
1.) Brian McCann (ATL)
2.) Johnny Estrada (ARI)

Two catchers from pretty bad teams, but that's the way the category worked out. Brian McCann is hitting .353, and that blows away the competition. While he isn't a big run producer, the batting average speaks for itself.

As for Estrada, I give him the nod over Ausmus and Barrett because he's simply better. Ausmus has fallen off the face of the earth, and is now hitting just .242. Clearly he doesn't belong. Barrett has a similar batting average, but Estrada has driven in more runs. As a result, I have to give Estrada the All-Star nod.

Backup Infielders
1B - Nomar Garciaparra (LAD)
1B - Lance Berkman (HOU)
2B - Brandon Phillips (CIN)
2B - Dan Uggla (FLA)
3B - Miguel Cabrera (FLA)
3B - Scott Rolen (STL)
SS - Edgar Renteria (ATL)

REMOVED - Omar Vizquel (SFG)
I've removed Omar from the list because, with the addition of Jason Schmidt, Vizquel is no longer needed, and there is no reason to have him on the team. Below is the original post regarding the backup infielders.

Two backups for every position, an aging SS, two Marlins...what am I thinking? Well, I'll take you through position by position and try to explain myself.

First, Nomar. He leads the league in batting average. Enough said; the guy belongs in the game. Lance Berkman over Ryan Howard is justified both by the fact that an Astro needs to be in the game and because the Phillies are already well represented on my roster.

Second Base is an interesting position, but if you look at the stats, it's pretty clear that both Uggla and Phillips belong. Honorable mention to Jamey Carroll of the Rockies, but you can only have so many Rockies on the team, and the guy doesn't drive in any runs.

Another Rockie, Garrett Atkins, gets the short end at 3B. With Miguel Cabrera and Scott Rolen both having monster seasons (with BA's around .350), there's no way I can justify leaving either off of the team. Freddy Sanchez is hitting even better than those two, but one Pirate is plenty and Sanchez also doesn't drive in the number of runs that Cabrera and Rolen do.

Finally, good old Shortstop. There are more Braves than I would like to have on this roster, but Renteria has played well and I think is more deserving of a spot than David Eckstein. I could easily see Eck on the roster though, and it's a tough call for Phil Garner. Then there's Omar Vizquel; his numbers actually justify his making the game, but the clincher is that he is the only Giants rep on my roster.

Backup Outfielders
1.) Matt Holliday (COL)
2.) Carlos Lee (MIL)
3.) Bobby Abreu (PHI)
4.) Andruw Jones (ATL)

REMOVED - Brad Hawpe (COL)
Hawpe has had a nice season, but he isn't really All-Star caliber. If you read the original post below, you'll see that I wasn't really happy with him on the roster. Frankly, the team would be fine without Abreu or Jones as well, but I'm not going to go that far. Below if the untouched post on the Backup Outfielders.

This position is WEAK this year in the National League. After you take out the three starters, I had a hard time finding even 5 backups to put on the team. Holliday is an obvious choice and should be starting. Carlos Lee has been driving in runs and hitting dingers all year, and deserves the spot. After that, things get spotty. Abreu has an OK batting average (.286) and has driven in quite a few runs (53), so he gets the nod. Jones has a weak BA (.279) but has 63 RBI's, so he gets in too. After that, Hawpe gets in thanks to his .307 BA (second highest amongst outfielders in the NL) and the fact that he has more RBI than Shawn Green, who is probably the next OF on the list, and who would be in if I were taking a sixth guy. Jacque Jones has also had a solid season, but the Cubs don't deserve more than 1 All-Star, and that's coming up shortly.

Starting Pitchers
1.) Tom Glavine (NYM)
2.) Brandon Webb (ARI)
3.) Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
4.) Chris Young (SDP)
5.) Carlos Zambrano (CHC)
6.) Roy Oswalt (HOU)
7.) Jason Schmidt (SFG)

ADDED - Roy Oswalt (HOU)
ADDED - Jason Schmidt (SFG)

Well, this simplifies things. Oswalt and Schmidt both belong in the game, and now I can put them in without hesitation. While I'm still predicting that Glavine will get the start, it's certainly possible that any of these guys could get the nod. Schmidt might even be the best choice for that. There are still some guys left off, and it's very possible that another position player or two will be left off of the list in favor of more pitching. The original post on Starting Pitchers follows.

This could end up going in any direction. Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny, Roy Oswalt, Chris Carpenter, Chris Capuano...any of them could end up on the team, depending on how Phil Garner wants to put things together. If you're going to bet on somebody making this list that I have off, bet on Oswalt, since he pitches for Garner's team.

Tom Glavine gets the start in my world despite being 10th in the league in ERA, but I could see any number of these guys making it as the starter. He has to get the bid, though; his ERA of 3.34 isn't exactly bad, and he's 11-2.

Brandon Webb is third in the league in ERA and should be on the list. That said, I left off Jason Schmidt, who is second in the league in ERA. I also have Carlos Zambrano making the team; it's entirely conceivable that he could be left off, Jacque Jones could be the Cubs All-Star, Vizquel could be left at home, and Schmidt could be the Giants All-Star rep. This is the perfect example of how one decision affects the rest of the roster.

Finally, Bronson Arroyo leads the league in starter's ERA and is 9-4. He deserves his spot and will make the team.

Relief Pitchers
1.) Tom Gordon (PHI)
2.) Trevor Hoffman (SDP)
3.) Jason Isringhausen (STL)

REMOVED - Derrick Turnbow (MIL)
ADDED - Jason Isringhausen (STL)

I was already thinking that this was a bad pick on my part before tonight's Twins-Brewers game. Then, I saw Turnbow suffer a meltdown (thankfully). The result: his ERA is no longer better than Isringhausen's, and is in fact now over 4.00. While one game shouldn't really be the justification for removing a player from my All-Star Roster, in this case I think it's justified. Isringhausen now has better numbers, and I think he deserves it. Following is the original Relief Pitchers post.

Hoffman has a ridiculous 1.20 ERA and 19 saves for the Padres. There is no way that he doesn't make the team (which, incidentally, could prevent Chris Young from making it). Similarly, Tom Gordon has a 1.91 ERA and 21 saves, so he gets in.

The third reliever is a tougher call, but I give the nod to Turnbow over Jason Isringhausen. They are extremely close in saves (23 for DT to 24 for JI), but Turnbow has a 3.28 ERA to Izzy's 3.86. Billy Wagner has a better ERA but fewer saves, although he could easily make the team. Mike Gonzalez also has a better ERA, but again, why reward the Pirates with multiple players?

"Last Player In" Ballot
David Eckstein (STL) - Shortstop
Brad Penny (LAD) - Starting Pitcher
Billy Wagner (NYM) - Relief Pitcher
Ryan Howard (PHI) - First Baseman
Freddy Sanchez (PIT) - Third Baseman

REMOVED: Roy Oswalt (HOU)
REMOVED: Jason Schmidt (SFG)
ADDED: David Eckstein (STL)
ADDED: Billy Wagner (NYM)

Think I'm a little conflicted about the starters? I've been saying not to reward the Pirates with two picks, but I think Freddy has played well enough to earn a chance if the fans want him in. Off of this list, I'd probably go with Schmidt. That said, I don't expect the actual list to look much like this, simply because I expect to be much more wrong about the NL roster than about the AL roster. We shall see tomorrow night.


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