Jul 6, 2013, 8:21 PM EST
No matter how bloated the All-Star rosters get, it’s never hard to find imperfections. This year, two of the AL’s top 10 performers to date have been left off for no good reason. For some reason, manager Jim Leyland’s squad took three catchers and four second basemen, but just two from third base, which has been the league’s deepest position. That’s where our biggest snubs are found.
Evan Longoria (3B Rays): Despite some recent foot troubles, Longoria has played in 84 games this year and posted the AL’s sixth-best OPS at .908. While they wouldn’t admit it, the Rays are probably happy that Longoria wasn’t chosen, since he’ll now have four days to rest his foot during the break. On merit, though, he was a clear choice. Even if the AL was only going to take two third basemen, he could have been picked over Baltimore’s Manny Machado.
Josh Donaldson (3B Athletics): Donaldson is right behind Longoria in seventh place in the AL in OPS, and he’s been the biggest bat on a surprisingly strong Oakland offense. Leyland should have simply taken all four third basemen — Miguel Cabrera, Longoria, Machado and Donaldson — and subtracted Salvador Perez and Ben Zobrist from the squad. Zobrist, while a valuable player, has an OPS nearly 200 points worse than Donaldson’s this season (.724 to .903).
Grant Balfour (RHP Athletics): How exciting of MLB to set it up so that the AL portion of the final vote is between a bunch of setup men (Joaquin Benoit, Steve Delabar, David Robertson, Tanner Scheppers and Koji Uehara). Balfour and his 40 consecutive saves (22 this year) couldn’t even crack that list. The A’s are a first-place team, yet they have just one All-Star in Bartolo Colon. Balfour, with his 1.82 ERA, was just as worthy as any other reliever in the league.
Howie Kendrick (2B Angels): It’s pretty stunning that the AL took four second basemen and still couldn’t find room for this guy. Kendrick is batting .317/.360/.473 with 10 homers so far. Maybe he didn’t deserve a spot over Jason Kipnis or Dustin Pedroia, but he should have been picked before Zobrist.
Coco Crisp (OF Athletics): For some reason, Leyland didn’t take a center fielder among his three outfield backups (Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon and Torii Hunter). Maybe that means Mike Trout will play the whole game, starting in left and moving to center once Adam Jones departs. More likely it means that Hunter will finish the game in his old position. Better if the AL had just bumped him and taken Crisp, Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner as a backup center fielder instead.
Derek Holland (LHP Rangers): By Fangraphs WAR, Holland has been the AL’s best pitcher so far. The modest 6-4 record overshadows how good Holland has been with his 107/29 K/BB ratio and just seven homers allowed in 112 innings. He’s also been at his best recently, shutting out the Yankees and striking out 10 Mariners in his last two starts.
Ian Desmond (SS Nationals): Desmond is one of the candidates to go via the final vote, and though he’ll almost certainly lose that spot to Yasiel Puig, he’ll make the squad if starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki misses the game with his broken rib. Desmond has come on strong and is hitting .281/.324/.506 to date.
Stephen Strasburg (RHP Nationals): Maybe all that Matt Harvey hype has left Strasburg overlooked. Of course, Strasburg did serve a brief DL stint earlier this year, but he’s still made 16 starts, the same number as All-Star pick Jose Fernandez and one or two fewer than the rest of the field, and he ranks third in the NL in ERA at 2.24. That puts him ever so slightly ahead of both Harvey (2.27) and Adam Wainwright (2.36). All that said, it seems doubtful that the Nationals wanted him pitching in the All-Star Game anyway.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP Dodgers): Bochy had no choice but to put Clayton Kershaw on the team, but he didn’t take any other Dodgers. That included bypassing Ryu, who just beat his Giants squad last night. Ryu is 7-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 17 starts this season. Madison Bumgarner, who was selected by Bochy, is 8-5 with a 3.08 ERA in 17 starts.
Mark Melancon (RHP Pirates): While the AL squad was all about taking the best relievers, regardless of roles, Bochy limited his relief picks to closers: Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman and Jason Grilli. Melancon, with a 0.87 ERA and a 44/4 K/BB ratio in 41 1/3 innings as a setup guy, has been better than any of them this season. The Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal and Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen also would have been better picks than the fringe starters if the goal is to win the game.
Yasiel Puig (OF Dodgers): I’ll mention Puig here, even though I’m OK with him not being chosen. It’s hard to argue that he’s a snub when he’s played just 30 major league games. Still, if the fans want to see him, then by all means, put him on the team. That’s what will happen after he was included on the Final Vote ballot today. No one stands any chance of beating him out.
Dec 10, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
It sounds like Baltimore has zeroed in on its preferred Jim Johnson replacement, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles are “trying to get a deal done” with former A’s closer Grant Balfour. Balfour didn’t get a chance to be a closer until age 33, but he’s saved 62 games with a 2.56…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:52 AM EST
It’s been a long time coming — and was mostly agreed to a couple of days ago — but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that MLB and NPB have an agreement in place on a new posting system that now only requires ratification by baseball’s executive council. That approval is expected. The…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:45 AM EST
Reported yesterday that he was being viewed by more teams as a “Plan B” trade target, the A’s are reportedly now thinking of not shopping Brett Anderson. Jeff Passan: Sources: Teams believe A’s have cooled on idea of trading Brett Anderson this week. May still go eventually. Just not close to a guarantee. — Jeff…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:21 AM EST
If someone — anyone — has a clue what the Phillies’ grand plan is, I’d love to hear it. I’m sure anyone would: The Phillies have indicated to other teams they are ready and willing to talk about Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in trades. — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 10, 2013 I suppose that…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:00 AM EST
UPDATE: Looks like the deal is done: two years with the Tigers, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith. The details are unknown. 9AM: Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Tigers are the frontrunners for Rajai Davis. Since, according to Smith, Davis is expected to sign quickly, it would appear that he’s crossing the Ambassador Bridge and heading for Motown. Davis…
Dec 10, 2013, 8:29 AM EST
Every year we get a report that Mark Prior is working out, hoping to make a major league comeback after years of injuries. No more. Andrew Simon of MLB.com reports that the former Cubs phenom is calling it quits: After a series of injuries and several comeback attempts, it appears Mark Prior is ready to…
Dec 10, 2013, 8:11 AM EST
A true sign that the Winter Meetings are snoozeville: we’re already seeing January BSOHL stories. Case in point, Buster Posey, who is lifting weights and stuff: When the Giants training staff checked in with Buster Posey recently, the former National League MVP had a goal in mind. “He’s trying to get a little stronger in…
Dec 10, 2013, 7:03 AM EST
Jon Heyman reports that the Mariners believe David Price “would be theirs” if they agree to include Taijuan Walker in a trade but that, welp, they don’t want to include Walker in a trade. Or James Paxton for that matter. Rather, they’d like to build a trade for Price around position players. Presumably Dustin Ackley…
Dec 9, 2013, 11:57 PM EST
After accepting minor league deals in seven straight years, free agent reliever Jamey Wright appears primed to receive a major league contract this winter. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Wright is currently deciding whether to return to the Rays for another season or sign with the Dodgers, who he pitched with in 2012. The…
Dec 9, 2013, 11:27 PM EST
We have seen some conflicting reports in recent days about whether the Rakuten Golden Eagles will post much-hyped right-hander Masahiro Tanaka this winter, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports brings word on why there could finally be some clarity on the situation this week: The will-he-or-won’t-he question may find resolution in the next couple of…
Dec 9, 2013, 10:23 PM EST
It was reported last month that Justin Masterson was open to a long-term deal with the Indians, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that the team is willing to listen to trade offers. Masterson is just one year away from free agency, so the Indians would prefer pieces that they can control for the long-term.…
Dec 9, 2013, 9:35 PM EST
Mark Prior has attempted numerous comebacks in recent years, but the oft-injured right-hander told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press earlier today that he has officially retired and could accept a front office position with the Padres. Prior, now 33, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006. He made seven relief appearances with…
Dec 9, 2013, 9:13 PM EST
Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times has been checking in all day with updates from the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Earlier this evening, he unleashed this interesting little nugget: There are rumors that free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz turned down the Mariners’ offer of 5-years, $75 million. That’s a lot of money for a guy…
Dec 9, 2013, 8:33 PM EST
It’s been suspected all offseason that the Mets would shop second baseman Daniel Murphy and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that they are pushing “very hard” to move him at this week’s Winter Meetings. Nothing appears imminent, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Orioles are among the teams who…
Dec 9, 2013, 8:16 PM EST
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Phillies reliever Mike Adams recently required surgery to repair a sports hernia, which is a fitting end to a disappointing year. Adams joined the Phillies last offseason on a two-year, $12 million contract, but he made just 28 appearances prior to undergoing surgery in July to repair…
Dec 9, 2013, 7:50 PM EST
There was renewed chatter over the weekend about the Red Sox possibly making a play for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com hears from major league sources that there’s “nothing to” the reports. In fact two sources said the two sides have “barely touched base.” Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, told Dylan Hernandez…
Dec 9, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
This is Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval as he appeared last season. This is Pablo Sandoval now, courtesy of a pic he posted on twitter this afternoon. Now, the shirt is a kinda baggy. There’s probably still some flab hiding under there. But at the rate he’s going, there might not be for much longer.…
Dec 9, 2013, 7:17 PM EST
With Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury off the board, Shin-Soo Choo is the biggest name remaining in the free agent market. And it sounds like he could find a new home during this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida: Sources: Choo talks appear to be reaching critical stage. #Rangers, at least one other club in.—…
Dec 9, 2013, 6:59 PM EST
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent right-hander Jason Hammel is looking for a three- or four-year deal in free agency. This is an excellent market for starting pitching, with Phil Hughes and Scott Feldman both recently receiving three-year deals, but it’s not that good. While Hammel was one of the Orioles’ best starters in…
Dec 9, 2013, 6:43 PM EST
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has routinely downplayed a potential trade of Mark Trumbo so far this offseason, but things are heating up at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Sources: Chances of Trumbo trade increasing. #Angels more open. #Dbacks pushing. Other teams in, all with improving offers.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 09, 2013 The Diamondbacks…
- The Phillies have told teams they’d trade Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels 20
- Mark Prior’s retirement reminds us that young pitchers will break your heart 9
- Roy Halladay is retiring 53
- Tony La Russa Bobby Cox, Joe Torre all unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame 48
- Tony Blengino says recent report on Seattle front office is “just the tip of the iceberg” 61
- Robinson Cano agrees to $240 million deal with Mariners (260)
- Yankees agree to seven-year, $153M contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (160)
- Report: Mariners willing to offer Robinson Cano a 10-year, $240 million deal (143)
- Report: Yankees have agreed to a three-year deal with Carlos Beltran (125)
- Brett Gardner is drawing “significant” trade interest (112)