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Tony La Russa’s explanation for snubbing Johnny Cueto is suspect

Jul 2, 2012, 2:12 PM EDT

2011 World Series Game 4 -Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Yesterday Tony La Russa left Johnny Cueto off the All-Star team despite Cueto having the kind of numbers which usually ensure All-Star status.

Dusty Baker said it was because La Russa was holding a grudge over that ugly 2010 brawl in which Cueto ended Jason LaRue’s career with the kicks to the head. La Russa denied that, acted like his integrity was being insulted and said, no, it was because Cueto was scheduled to pitch on Sunday, thus making him unavailable for the All-Star Game.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer just burnt that house down, however, by noting the new language regarding Sunday starters in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Specifically, a guy is starting on the Sunday before the game is no justification for not selecting him:

(ii) Sunday Pitcher Rule. Any starting pitcher elected or selected to the All-Star team who makes a start on the Sunday immediately preceding the All-Star Game (“Sunday Pitcher”) shall have the option to participate or not participate in the All-Star Game. If such starting pitcher elects to participate in the All-Star Game, he will not be permitted to pitch for more than one inning, and he may also inform his manager that he should be removed from the game if he reaches a certain pitch count (irrespective of whether he has completed one inning), provided such pitch count is reasonable. If a Sunday Pitcher who was originally named to the team elects not to participate in the All-Star Game, he will be replaced on the roster but treated in the same manner as other All-Stars who are excused from participation, and he will be encouraged to attend and be announced at the All-Star Game.

If La Russa had said nothing in response to Baker and Cueto’s comments the story dies and the benefit of the doubt is probably given. But I suspect the last person on the planet who is unaware of the rules applicable to this situation is Tony La Russa, Esq.  And his reasoning for keeping Cueto off the team seems pretty weak at the moment.

  1. whodeyx - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Yeah stlouis, way to actually read what fay said. Not sure how well you understand what an op-ed piece is, like your homer boy Bernie wrote vs. Fay’s, which cited clear factual information on how flawed TLR’s reasoning is as he cited the CBA. Take a few english classes at your local community college and get back to me.

    • spetznaz777 - Jul 2, 2012 at 11:53 PM

      yeah, how many cincinnati fans vote for philips and cueto? how many cincinnati fans actually go to the games? the answer to those questions are both low figures. vote for your players and be in the high figures of attendance then start complaining about your baseball team. if the reds are so good where are the World Series rings? oh yeah thats right they didnt win last year, they didnt win the year before that, and with their whiny/stupid manager/players they probably wont see a ring for a long long time.

      • dexterismyhero - Jul 3, 2012 at 8:13 AM

        fans don’t vote for the pitchers idiot.

      • spetznaz777 - Jul 3, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        thanks for the clarification dex. i guess the rest of my post is wrong as well?

    • spetznaz777 - Jul 3, 2012 at 12:17 PM

      so does everyone cry in cincinnati?

      • stumblebum76 - Jul 9, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        No. But, everybody in St. Louis WHINES.

  2. thecapedbandito - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Beginning to suspect that stlouis1baseball is actually TLR. Or just a massive troll. Or a raving lunatic. Either way, more CAPS please…and can you throw in that “who do you leave out” post for the 20th time for good measure?

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      Bandito: Point(s) taken. Still waiting on an answer to “who do you leave out.”
      You see…when people come with complaints, grievances or bitching in general it helps their argument when they back it up with actual solutions.
      In this case…WHO DO YOU LEAVE OUT?
      Sorry about the CAPS.
      Please know this time I used them soley because you “whined” about them.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

        I could make the case that Cueto has pitched slightly better than Hamels, and I’d take a starter over a reliever (Papelbon) any day.

      • thecapedbandito - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        I agree. If people state these huge problems, but don’t have any solutions to solve the problems, then what’s the point of complaining to begin with?

        I will take a stab (or cleated kick) at your question though. To provide some context, I actually live in Cincinnati (although I’m a Phillies fan) so I’ve seen/heard plenty of games this year. I would’ve included Cueto because he has been very good and very consistent on a rotation where the other 4 guys are a complete rollercoaster ride (Arroyo, Latos, Leake, Bailey). Given the choices, I’d leave Papelbon off who’s been good, but not great. Phillips is the tougher call although I think I’d swap him in for Jay Bruce to be honest.

  3. greej1938l - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    I agree Greinke is a bigger snub then cueto considering the games in KC where he started! And if not for Greinke, brewers would already be sellers

    • thecapedbandito - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Yeah but don’t you think selection should be solely on merit? And I’m not arguing that Cueto has been better than Greinke, or vice versa. I just don’t think that the fact that he played in KC should matter at all in the decision. If that’s the criteria then I would argue that George Brett is the biggest snub.

  4. whodeyx - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Regardless, I think the all-star selection system needs a serious overhaul. It’s gotten almost ridiculous as of late. I don’t want to be the fan who cried wolf, but if it wasn’t for the final vote, votto wouldn’t have made the team during his MVP season (repeat, M-V-P season). I’d love to
    hear st louis tell me how fair it was then too.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      Now this is something we can agree on Whodeyx.
      Except I will say it has always needed a serious overhaul.
      Anytime the fans vote I question the integrity.
      Just for the record…I voted for Joey (25) times in his MVP season.
      Yep…25 times. It was a no brainer.
      And to think…if not for the final vote he would have missed out.

      • thecapedbandito - Jul 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        That year there were more well known first basemen, led by Pujols, so I think people just didn’t realize how good Votto was despite the gaudy stats. Now he’s basically the only 1st baseman of note in the NL and everyone’s finally realizes he’s an absolute machine.

    • jm91rs - Jul 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      Agreed. That was a bit of a joke. Thankfully since then any 1st baseman that could have hurt Votto’s chances have left for big pay days in the American League.

      The system does need an overhaul, but I’m not sure how it can be fixed. Uggla has similar numbers to Phillips at the plate, but couldn’t hold Brandon’s jock in the field. Fans see Brandon on top 10 plays every night, it would be nice to showcase that in front of the country.

      Greinke and Cueto have been lights out all year but there was no room for them? Hell, as a reds fan I’d admit that Greinke is more deserving than Chapman. Chapman’s magic wore off a month ago, and his ERA is probably over 10 against American League teams (who is he going to face in the all star game? yep.)

      Japanese players have an entire country casting votes for them simply because of where they are from. As it is now, it’s just a popularity contest. Which is fine for a game that means nothing, but this does mean something now.

      • thecapedbandito - Jul 2, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        Also in Uggla’s defense, I heard one of the criteria was tightness of jersey, a category of course that he is second to none in.

    • saints97 - Jul 2, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      I suppose the alternative is to use WAR (I’d prefer fangraph’s version), but a lot of people hate those new metrics. I am not sure if you’d use WAR since the last All Star Game or just for the season, though. Opinions vary on that. Either way, that would get Phillips in (I agree that he was deserving). I am not sure if that would get Cueto in. I’d love them to base more things off of WAR, but that is far to sabermetric for the old guard. As it is, we are stuck with popularity contests. Of course Lance Lynn is not as worthy as Greinke and Cueto, but keep in mind that when the players and managers (and GMs?) voted him in, he was probably leading the league in wins and had a mid-2’s ERA. Timing is key here, too.

      Food for thought, though, Cincy fan… win the pennant and then you’ll only have yourself to blame. Do St. Louis fans not have just as big of a beef with Matt Holliday and Allen Craig being left off in favor of Jay Bruce? Sure they do, but they aren’t whining.

  5. errman2000 - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    I’m not gona sit here and say Cueto was right by kicking larue, but people seem to forget the fact that the cardinals started that fight. But regaurdless it happened 2 years ago, i’m sure many players regret that day.
    All that being said i find it hard to believe that larusa left Cueto off the team because he pitches on sunday. If that really was the reason a respectable person would let Cueto get credit for the nod, then if he cant play, replace him with a different guy instead of shadily snubbing him and giving a bad excuse.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 3, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      No…Phillips started it by running his trap in the media the media the previous day.
      Then…he comes to the plate and expects Yadi to act they have been homeboys for years.
      You don’t dissrespect someone like that (to the media no less) and expect hugs and backslaps.
      You can say what you want…but you would absolutely expect the same from your Catcher.
      You protect your teammates.
      Phillips ran his trap…then ran it some more…and there you have it.

  6. whodeyx - Jul 2, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    I’m with the bandito. The all-stars should have been Votto, Chapman, Cueto and Phillips in that order. If it wasn’t for all of those bombs, Jay Bruce would (and in all reality should) be watching this game from the couch.

    • jm91rs - Jul 2, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      Bruce didn’t deserve a spot this year, and it sorta takes some sting out of the argument that TLR is screwing the reds. I guess with the fans voting for Pablo San Doval instead of David Wright, the choices at infield were more limited.

      The part I hope Cards fans can see is that all of their posts about Cueto kicking have nothing to do with him deserving a spot this year. I think Chris(sy) Carpenter is a weenie, but the way he pitched in 2005, he earned the spot starting that game. The way Cueto is pitching, he earned a spot. The team should be based on Merit, not whether or not that player has pissed you off before.

  7. sincitybonobo - Jul 2, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    LaRussa has a law degree, so it’s highly unlikely he misunderstood the language. Plausible deniability was probably his best defense. Still, Lance Lynn over Cueto is especially difficult to justify. He should drop the outrage line. Being called out on this, especially from the Queen City, should have been anything but unexpected.

    • saints97 - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      Ignorance is not a defense. LaRussa did not pick Lynn, the players did. But if you cared about accuracy, you’d already know that.

  8. savior72 - Jul 2, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    How come the fans and other players didnt vote them in if they’re so good? Go blame them first Dusty.

  9. seahawks19081 - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    LaRussa is an ass. Just go away, you retired, just go away. That is all.

  10. miserynmossouri - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, TLR has the cards. Besides the only folks that really care about this are the ten fans that live in Cincy and they will all be in their parents basement watching the game.

  11. footballchic777 - Jul 2, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    LaRussa, you are a vindictive RETIRED idiot! Suck it up, admit you snubbed him for personal reasons, and let it go! You are petty and egotistical and they should have left you retired!

    • materialman80 - Jul 3, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      I’m thinking Tony might know a bit more about baseball then you footballchic777. I believe he made the right call.

  12. footballchic777 - Jul 3, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    materialman80….check the numbers! I totally agree with you that I am sure LaRussa knows more about baseball than I do. That does NOT negate my belief that his decision was based on his personal feelings and not on who was pitching on Sunday! I believe he made the wrong decision!

  13. ogre2010 - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Gotta Love Tony!!

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