The rosters for the All-Star Game will be announced late this afternoon, but who can wait that long to see who will be on the American League and National League squads for the July 10 game at AT&T Park in San Francisco? Let’s take at look at what those rosters would look like if one man–that would be me–were empowered to pick both 32-man squads, while using a sabermetric bent.
While some fans and analysts are of the opinion that a players’ entire body of work should be considered when selecting the All-Star teams, I am not among them. This is the 2007 All-Star Game we’re talking about, so I’m only taking 2007 into account when picking my teams. As Major League Baseball rules stipulate, every team must be represented on the roster, and that will be the case here. Keep in mind there will be no designated hitter with the game being played in San Francisco. I’ve also included injured players who may not be ready to play by July 10, but we can worry about finding replacements for them at a later date.
Starting Pitcher: Brad Penny, Dodgers. A second straight outstanding first half has the Dodgers glad they didn’t trade him over the winter.
Catcher: Russell Martin, Dodgers. Get ready to see this guy in the Midsummer Classic for the next decade, because he has everything you want in an All-Star catcher.
First Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers. On pace to combine with his estranged father Cecil to become the first father-son combo to hit 50 home runs in a season. He’s the biggest of many reasons–and I mean that in every sense–for why the Brewers are going to wind up in the postseason for the first time in 25 years.
Second Base: Chase Utley, Phillies. Many baseball people will tell you this guy, not Ryan Howard, is the hitter they fear most in the Phillies’ lineup. He will be worth every penny of the seven-year, $85-million contract that he signed in January.
Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, Marlins. While his weight is becoming an issue, it has yet to hold him back, as he’s emerged as one of the best players in the game.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. Forget the sophomore jinx–Ramirez is continuing down the road to superstardom in his second season.
Outfielder: Barry Bonds, Giants. Yes, Mr. Controversy has slumped after his hot May, but he is still one of the best offensive players in the game, and it would be great fun for Giants fans to see if he could plop one into McCovey Cove in the first All-Star Game in their gorgeous waterfront ballpark.
Outfielder: Ken Griffey Jr., Reds. He has made a Lazarus-like return to prominence this season, and is about the only reason to watch the Reds this year.
Outfielder: Matt Holliday, Rockies. More than just a Coors Field creation, he has quietly blossomed into one of the best hitters in baseball the last two years.
Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren, Athletics. Mark Mulder-for-Haren would have been enough of a steal for A’s GM Billy Beane, but he also got first base prospect Daric Barton thrown into the deal, too.
Catcher: Jorge Posada, Yankees. Still going strong at 36. Will the Yankees be willing to give a multi-year contract to a catcher with this much mileage when he becomes a free agent in November?
First Base: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. Now everybody should know why Beane lusted after the Greek God of Walks so much in Moneyball.
Second Base: Brian Roberts, Orioles. A bright spot in an otherwise awful season for the Orioles, one they might have lost. They would have traded him to Atlanta for Adam LaRoche and Marcus Giles if owner Peter Angelos hadn’t put the kibosh on that idea.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. He no longer is on pace to break Barry Bonds’ single-season record of 73 home runs, but he will certainly hit the jackpot again this winter when he voids the remainder of his contract and gets another huge deal as a free agent.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees. Along with Posada, one of the few constants in the Yankees’ ever-turbulent world. His defense hasn’t been great, but he sits at .340/.413/.476, well on his way to replicating his near-MVP season of a year ago.
Outfielder: Vladimir Guerrero, Angels. He continues to be worth every penny of that five-year, $70-million contract he signed as a free agent before the 2004 season. He is the engine that drives the Angels’ otherwise no-name offense.
Outfielder: Magglio Ordonez, Tigers. These days, nobody is criticizing Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski for giving Ordonez that five-year, $75-million contract as a free agent.
Outfielder: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners. The hitting machine is having another fine year, and it will be fascinating to see if he actually leaves the Mariners to become a free agent in the winter, and what kind of contract he will command as the most unique player in the game.
There is a good chance that baseball lifer Dave Trembley could finish out the season as the Orioles’ manager. Trembley was promoted from bullpen coach to interim manager last month when Sam Perlozzo was fired. He had managed in the minor leagues for 20 years, but this is the 55-year-old’s first season in the majors.
Newly-minted President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail has decided to put the manager search on hold for now in order to get acclimated to his new surroundings. The Orioles offered the job to Joe Girardi, the National League Manager of the Year last season with Florida, a day after Perlozzo was fired. Girardi opted to stay in the broadcast booth with Fox and the New York Yankees. So, in response to that rebuff, the Birds seem to be standing pat.
“What I’d really like to do now is, I have so much on my plate that I’ve got to learn, let’s watch Dave manage for a while,” MacPhail told the Baltimore Sun. “Before we take this team in a direction and you try to customize a fit–a manager–for it, it’s incumbent upon me to try to collect as much information and help us make the decision as to which way we go then custom-fit the manager to whichever way that is.”
This is the second time MacPhail has hung onto an interim manager. You could say that the last time around, it worked out well–MacPhail took over as Minnesota’s general manager and replaced Ray Miller with Tom Kelly, who guided the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. MacPhail relayed that story to the Orioles’ players in a team meeting. “Tom really wasn’t somebody I thought was in the top two at the time, but a lot of those decisions become self-evident over time,” MacPhail said. “God knows there are other things I need to learn and do, so there’s no hurry.”
Among the names being bandied about as a permanent replacement for Perlozzo include former Orioles manager Davey Johnson, Orioles broadcaster Rick Dempsey, former Rockies and Cubs manager Don Baylor, White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton, and Mets bench coach Jerry Manuel.
Meanwhile, highly-regarded pitching coach Leo Mazzone said he plans to stay, though it was close friendship with Perlozzo-they grew up together in Cumberland, Md.-that led him to leave Atlanta for Baltimore. “The way I look at it now is I love this city, I love this pitching staff, and I hope to finish my career here,” Mazzone said. “This pitching staff has a chance to be something real special, and we have pitchers on this staff that have a chance to pitch at a championship-caliber level. So I am looking forward to seeing them progress and to get ourselves in the thick of something.”
With Bonds five short of Hank Aaron‘s all-time home run record, one can’t help but wonder if Griffey might not have already broken the mark if he hadn’t had so many injuries throughout this decade. Griffey hasn’t played in more than 128 games in a season since 2000, the year in which the Reds acquired him from Seattle. In fact, Griffey averaged only 100 games in his first seven seasons in Cincinnati, though he has played in 75 of 81 games for the Reds this year.
Griffey hit 398 home runs in 11 seasons with the Mariners, including 49, 56, 56, and 48 in his final four seasons in Seattle, from 1996-99. He’s averaged only 24 homers in his seven full season with the Reds, though he is resurgent this year with 21 dingers.
However, he insisted this past week that he never thinks about what might have been. “No. No. No, not ever,” Griffey told reporters when the Reds played in Philadelphia. “You guys predict things and talk about things like that more than I do. I just worry about the guy 60 feet from me. I worry about getting wins and getting us back on track.”
Griffey also said that he wasn’t surprised that Texas’ Sammy Sosa‘s achievement of 600 home runs last month was underplayed. “You have one guy going for 755,” Griffey said. “It was like 1998 when Mark McGwire was chasing 70 and Sosa was chasing 66. I was chasing 56 and I was low man on the totem pole.”
The Brewers have put themselves in position to not only have their first winning season in years, but also to make only their second postseason appearance in the franchise’s 37-year history, and their first in 25 years. They hold a 7 ½-game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.
A big part of Milwaukee’s success has been its dominance at home. They are 30-13 at Miller Park and 17-20 on the road, a split that most of those with the Brewers believe isn’t an anomaly, since they went 48-33 at home last season but 27-54 in away games.
Brewers pitcher Dave Bush suggested recently the Miler Park roof might be the key to home success because they never have to worry about rainouts or rain delays. “It could be true,” Brewers manger Ned Yost told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I love the fact that it doesn’t matter what the weather is, what’s going on outside. When I was (a coach) in Atlanta, you’d wake up and it would be raining and your first thought would be, ‘Greg Maddux is pitching tonight.’ And you’re thinking he’s going to pitch one inning and it’s going to rain and we’re going to lose our starter. I don’t have to worry about that here. People don’t understand how important a player’s routine is. If you get throw off just a little bit, it really puts a kink in your day. We’re just comfortable here. I wish I had an answer for it. I really don’t.”
From the Rumor Mill: After not getting far in their pursuit of Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, the Mets are eying bench help, particularly Cincinnati first baseman/outfielder Jeff Conine and San Francisco first baseman Mark Sweeney. While it looks like Buehrle will sign a below-market contact with the White Sox for four years and $56 million to forego free agency at the end of the season, White Sox GM Kenny Williams is thought to be willing to trade right-handers Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, and Javier Vazquez, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, and outfielder Jermaine Dye. Dealing those players would not only allow the White Sox to begin retooling their roster, but it would also clear room in the budget for Buehrle, as they have more than $82 million committed to 13 players for 2008. … The Red Sox inquired about Buehrle, but the talks went nowhere when Boston refused to part with either of a pair of top prospects–center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury or right-hander Clay Buchholz. However, the Red Sox are willing to part with Pawtucket outfielder Brandon Moss in a trade for a right-handed setup reliever. … Sam Zell, who recently purchased controlling interest in Tribune, Co., which owns the Cubs, vetoed the trade that would have sent outfielder Jacque Jones to Florida for a low-level pitching prospect. Under terms of the deal, the Cubs would have covered $6.6 million of the $7.2 million left on the year remaining on Jones’ contract. That was too rich for Zell’s blood. … Chicago civic leader Andy McKenna, who served as the Cubs’ chairman in the early 1980s, is spearheading a group that seems to be the front-runner to buy the club from Zell, possibly for as much as a record $1 billion. John Canning, one of the Milwaukee Brewers‘ minority owners, is part of the group that is backed by Dearborn Corp., a Chicago corporation. … One of the first things Cubs President John McDonough will ask of new ownership is to replace the awful playing surface at Wrigley Field, including the huge crown near third base. McDonough already has requested and received permission from the White Sox to have Marshall Bossard, their well-regarded head groundskeeper, oversee the installation of a new surface. … The New York Yankees refuse to concede that their 12-year run of playoff appearances might be coming to an end. They are eying such trade targets as Conine, Dye, Ben Broussard of Seattle, and relievers David Weathers of Cincinnati and Eric Gagne of Texas. … Pittsburgh has its eye on Atlanta rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but a potential trade seems doubtful. The Braves would want either left-hander Tom Gorzelanny or right-hander Ian Snell as part of a package, and the Pirates aren’t inclined to deal either young starting pitcher. … San Francisco figures to be in selling mode at the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, and the most interesting player the Giants could make available is shortstop Omar Vizquel. … Oakland will consider trading first baseman Dan Johnson for bullpen help, particularly with first base prospect Daric Barton on fire down in Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League. … Arizona outfield prospect Justin Upton, currently with Double-A Mobile, could be with the major league club sometime in the second half of the season. … Bill Mueller is still unsure if he wants to become the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ hitting coach on a permanent basis after replacing the fired Eddie Murray last month. Mueller retired as a player at the end of last season, and was able to live with his family in Mesa, Ariz., in his job as a special assistant to GM Ned Colletti. If Mueller decides he doesn’t want to be a full-time coach, look for the Dodgers to stay in house and go with either minor league hitting coordinator Bill Robinson or Triple-A Las Vegas hitting coach Mike Easler.