Every year. Every year, I join in a chorus of statistical slaves railing against the fan vote, this year witnessed by Derek Jeter (14th in WAR* among AL shortstops, with a paltry 0.2) getting a starting nod. Jeter is at least chasing 3,000 hits. There’s even less explanation for Josh Hamilton (1.6 WAR, 12th among AL outfielders.)
But this year, I’m not stopping there. The whole selection process is pretty silly. Bruce Bochy used his managerial picks to give Ryan Vogelsong an All-Star nod, which raised a lot of eyebrows around the league. But Vogelsong (1.9 WAR, 20th among NL starters) isn’t even the worst offender. Jose Valverde made the squad despite a 0.4 WAR (38th among AL relievers,) as did Brandon League, who is tied with him.
And then there’s Jay Bruce, whose 0.9 WAR ranks him 39th among NL outfielders.
Meanwhile, Bochy snubbed his own third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, who leads all NL third basemen with 2.0 WAR. Sandoval isn’t alone; he’s tied at the top with Chase Headley, who also wasn’t voted in. Neither were Ryan Roberts (1.9) – who wasn’t even on the printed All-Star ballot – or Aramis Ramirez (1.6). That’s right, the NL’s starting third baseman, Placido Polanco, ranks fifth. The reserve third baseman, Chipper Jones, ranks tenth.
The second base situation in the AL is almost as bad. Robinson Cano (2.4, 5th among AL 2B) was voted the starter, and Howie Kendrick (3rd with 3.1) is the backup, leaving Dustin Pedroia (1st with 3.7) as proof that even big-market players aren’t exempt. He’ll have company watching the game; the Rays’ Ben Zobrist is 2nd with 3.6 WAR, and also didn’t receive a nod.
David Robertson is tied with his bullpen mate, Mariano Rivera, to lead all AL relievers with a 1.5 WAR, but he’ll be sitting at home, also.
But it is what it is, and most of the guys who belong there end up there, one way or the other. But would it kill Major League Baseball to rectify this situation somehow? Maybe give the General Managers a vote? Maybe SABR? I don’t know; but I do know that something needs to change. The guys who earn All-Star nods must be allowed to play in the All-Star Game.
I’m all for the idea of the fan vote: Fans should be able to watch their favorite players take the field in July against one another. But if a player out-performs every other player at his position, he should be on that field.
As is my tradition, I’ve taken the liberty of creating my own All-Star team, based on statistics, while maintaining current MLB rules (i.e. at least one player from each team**).
So, without further ado, my own choices for the 68 Major League All-Stars:
C: Brian McCann (ATL)
1B: Joey Votto (CIN)
2B: Rickie Weeks (MIL)
3B: Chase Headley (SDP)
SS: Jose Reyes (NYM)
OF: Matt Kemp (LAD), Andrew McCutcheon (PIT), Ryan Braun (MIL)
SP: Roy Halladay (PHI)
Cole Hamels (PHI), Cliff Lee (PHI), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Jair Jurrjens (ATL), Jonny Venters (ATL), Craig Kimbrel (ATL), Eric O’Flaherty (ATL), Mike Adams (SDP), Carlos Marmol (CHC), Ian Kennedy (ARI), Daniel Hudson (ARI), Matt Cain (SFG)
C Miguel Montero (ARI), 1B Prince Fielder (MIL), 2B Danny Espinosa (WSN), 3B Pablo Sandoval (SFG), SS Troy Tulowitzki (COL), OF Shane Victorino (PHI), OF Michael Bourn (HOU), OF Matt Holliday (STL), OF Carlos Beltran (HOU), 1B Gaby Sanchez (FLA), 2B Brandon Phillips (CIN), OF/1B Lance Berkman (STL), 3B Ryan Roberts (ARI)
C: Alex Avila (DET)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez (BOS)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
3B: Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
OF: Jose Bautista (TOR), Curtis Granderson (NYY), Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
SP: Jered Weaver (LAA)
Justin Verlander (DET), CC Sabathia (NYY), Josh Beckett (BOS), James Shields (TBR), David Robertson (NYY), Mariano Rivera (NYY), Jim Johnson (BAL), Aaron Crow (KCR), Sergio Santos (CWS), Felix Hernandez (SEA), C.J. Wilson (TEX), Gio Gonzalez (OAK)
C Matt Wieters (BAL), 1B Miguel Cabrera (DET), 2B Ben Zobrist (TBR), 3B Kevin Youkilis (BOS), SS Jhonny Peralta (DET), OF Alex Gordon (KCR), OF Denard Span (MIN), OF Brett Gardner (NYY), DH Victor Martinez (DET), OF Matthew Joyce (TBR), OF Carlos Quentin (CWS), 2B Howie Kendrick (LAA)
* I calculated WAR by averaging bWAR and fWAR.
** Yankees 6, Red Sox 6, Braves 5, Tigers 5, Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 4, Brewers 3, Rays 3, Reds 2, Dodgers 2, Mets 2, Padres 2, Giants 2, Cardinals 2, Angels 2, Royals 2, Cubs 1, Rockies 1, Marlins 1, Astros 1, Pirates 1, Nationals 1, Blue Jays 1, Rangers 1, Mariners 1, Athletics 1, Twins 1, Indians 1
Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez will probably require surgery. When that surgery is going to take place seems to be the only consideration. With a fairly long recovery time, the Yankees are stuck with a third baseman who will be limited if he plays in the field, and DH is not necessarily an option, depending on whether or not Jorge Posada can catch.
The Dominican Republic’s team in the WBC seems as though it’s comfortable playing Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada at third base to cover for Rodriguez. My question is this:
Might the Yankees be interested in doing the same thing?
At some point – probably 2010 – Tejada is likely to become an everyday third baseman if he wants his Major League career to continue. The Yankees, if they were to lose Rodriguez’s production at third, suddenly find themselves behind the 8-Ball. There aren’t many third basemen who would even approach Rodriguez’s numbers. Though Tejada isn’t quite A-Rod at the plate, he’s a much better option than any currently-available free agent third basemen, and he comes with just one year left on his contract.
Many opinions are floating on the best way to replace Rodriguez, should the Yankees opt to do that. One of the more intriguing ones has 2B Robinson Cano moving to third base, and the Yankees acquiring either a free agent second baseman like Mark Grudzielanek or Ray Durham, or trading for a second baseman. Popular opinion puts Florida’s Dan Uggla at the top of this list.
But Uggla’s likely to come with a high price tag. The Marlins covet prospects, and the Yankees have quite a few that may interest them. Pitchers Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson are commonly referred to.
What I wonder, though, is if Tejada might entice the Bronx Bombers as an option. His albatross contract, which is currently strangling the Astros’ payroll, would be a drop in the bucket to the Yankees. He provides good defense and a solid bat for their lineup, and would no doubt cost less in prospects than would Uggla.
The Astros’ needs are simple, and they begin with starting pitching. In 2008, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees had a nice crop of pitchers that helped them place first in the North Division of the International League: Hughes, Jackson, Kei Igawa, Daniel McCutcheon, Ian Kennedy, Jeff Karstens. The list goes on, but that is a group of pitchers who logged at least 60 innings with ERAs under 4 and WHIPs under 1.20.
Assuming that the Astros want a pitcher on the younger side, under the age of 28, McCutcheon, Kennedy, and Karstens have to look mighty enticing. Unfortunately, McCutcheon and Karstens were sent to the Pirates in the Xavier Nady–Damaso Marte deal in July. That leaves Ian Kennedy, as well as some more marginal options, including 24-year-old righty Jeff Marquez, Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, and Zachary Kroenke, as well as youngsters Dellin Betances, Zachary McAllister, and Mark Melancon.
You can almost pick and choose any two on the list, though it’s highly unlikely the Yanks would part with Coke, who figures to be a big part of their bullpen at some point this year. Melancon, who spent time in A+, AA, and AAA ball in 2008, combined to go 8-1 with 3 saves in 95 IP, 2.27 ERA, 0.958 WHIP, 89 K, 22 BB. In my eyes, he’s easily the most intriguing option. He’ll be 24 this year, and could make a case to break into the Astros’ rotation if things falter and he stays on his current path.
The Astros would also likely want a pitcher who could pitch in the majors this year as a starter, which would be questionable for Melancon, but the Yankees are short on pitchers they might actually deal. Certainly, they won’t be giving away C.C. Sabathia, Joba Chamberlin, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, or Chien-Ming Wang without a return greater than Tejada. But what they might part with is a non-roster invitee like Brett Tomko. Tomko would be someone who might pitch a little bit at the big league level until Melancon is ready, probably in 2010.
In addition, the Astros would need to find someone to fill the gap left by Tejada. Drew Sutton, Edwin Maysonet, and Tommy Manzella would enter that debate, along with Geoff Blum. Let’s assume that Chris Johnson will become the full-time starter at third base at some point this season. I don’t think it’s unfair to ask the Yankees to send someone who can play both shortstop and third base, and they have a former Astro that fits that bill in Cody Ransom
Because Ransom would primarily be a bench utilityman, Tomko is a flyer, and Melancon would probably need time to develop, the Yankees would have to add another prospect – perhaps switch-hitting second baseman Reegie Corona – to sweeten the deal.
So there you have it: Tomko, Melancon, Ransom, and Corona for Miguel Tejada. Certainly a fair deal for the Yankees, and the Astros receive some prospects and some middling major leaguers, while ditching Tejada’s contract. The Yankees get a proven hitter who can play third base and not require them to move their established infielders around, and it would cost them a lot less than Uggla would. Sounds like a plan; let’s make it happen.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Alex Rodriguez may have to withdraw from the WBC due to a hip injury.
You never like to see such a high-profile player go down to injury, but my thoughts immediately turned in a different direction than most people’s.
If Alex Rodriguez misses the WBC, does this make Miguel Tejada the Dominican Republic’s starting third baseman?
Tejada withdrew from the Classic after hearing a rumor that he was going to be used primarily as a first baseman. Then, with manager Felipe Alou’s eventual assurance that he would play shortstop, third base, and DH, he changed his mind and joined the team.
With Rodriguez in the lineup at third, and Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, it wasn’t immediately clear how much playing time Tejada would get in the infield. Now, that’s all changed.
Barring whomever would replace A-Rod on the roster, the only other third baseman currently with the team is Willy Aybar. Given that option, it seems reasonable to assume that Tejada would become the starting third baseman.
And that, as far as I’m concerned, is a problem for the Houston Astros.
I’m generally pro-WBC. I don’t mind players taking the added injury risk to play for their countries. LaTroy Hawkins, Roy Oswalt, and Carlos Lee are all involved in the classic, and bully for them. These are three guys who performed for the Astros last year. They did exactly the job they were asked to do, and they did it well.
But Tejada’s short tenure with the Astros has been tumultuous, at best. First, he was caught lying about his age. Then, he suffered a mid-season slump that hurt the team in a bad way. Next, he was indicted for lying to federal investigators. Then came the WBC.
Simply put, I feel pretty strongly that Miguel should be in camp. He should be getting reps as a shortstop. He should be preparing himself to earn the money he’s getting paid – an albatross contract, signed under false pretenses regarding his age. That contract, and the five players we gave up to get Tejada from the Orioles, could be singled out as the single-largest reason the Astros were unable to make a move of any merit this offseason.
The news that he may get significant playing time at another position doesn’t sit well with me.
Of course, there is another option, given the Astros’ holes at third base. If Tejada shows himself to be a competent third baseman, perhaps Coop may consider moving him there permanently, and allowing either Tommy Manzella or Drew Sutton to play shortstop, assuming Chris Johnson is sent to AAA at the end of Spring Training.
Knowing Cooper, that seems unlikely, but it is a possibility. Tejada’s still a better-fielding shortstop than he gets credit for (he had a 4.01 RFg in 2008, six points above adjusted league average), but he is aging (three years more quickly than we’d realized.)
In other news, Roy Oswalt will be on The Late Show With David Letterman tomorrow (Thursday) night for the Top 10 list: “Reasons To Watch The World Baseball Classic.”