All Star Rosters & Be Careful What You Ask For

Hello again everybody...

It's a beautiful middle of the week here in Minnesota. Hope things are looking as good wherever you are. Today the Twins are trying to salvage a game out of their 3-game set with the Red Sox (whom I hate). Monday night's game was a brilliantly pitched 1-0 win by Boston (whom I hate). Tuesday night the Twins' bullpen gacked up a 5-2 to lose 6-5. So hopefully the Twins can keep the brooms from coming out of the closet!

Today, I'm going to run down the AL and NL All-Star rosters, comparing them to the official Sports Take ballot I gave you last week. Then it would normally be time for the Peek at the Picks segment. But a special circumstance has force me to kick that to Friday. That's right, it's time for another Sports Take Open Letter!
“To play 18 years in Yankee Stadium is the best thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer.”
- Mickey Mantle (1931-1995), New York Yankee Hall of Famer

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This past Sunday, the AL and NL Rosters for the 2008 All-Star game were announced. The game will be Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The final All-Star game at the "House that Ruth built" before the Yankees open their new stadium next year.

So without further ado, here are the rosters along with the official Sports Take ballottees:


1st Base: Kevin Youklis, Boston Red Sox (whom I hate)
Youklis was the official Sports Take selection. Justin Morneau of the Twins was a close second in the scoring system, and by rights he makes the AL Roster as a backup. As the only other 1B on the roster, Justin should absolutely get in the game and should get a couple at-bats at least.

2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia, Bost Red Sox (whom I hate)
Ian Kinsler of Texas was the official ST selection, and he made the team as the sole backup at 2nd base. I don't have a huge problem with Pedroia. He's a scrappy, smart player who produces well for Boston (whom I hate). He made 2nd place in the ST scoring system, though that was well behind Kinsler.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
This was a popularity pick, plain and simple. Jeter's around .280 with 4 home runs and 35 RBI. Easily below par for his career and hardly All-Star starter numbers. Michael Young of Texas was the official ST selection. He makes the team as a backup, but far and away should be starting over Jeter.

3rd base: Alex Rodruigez, New York Yankees
Alex is also the official ST selection. No word if he's left Box Seats for Madonna or not (yes, a cheap shot, but he has it coming). So the AL infield is comprised of 2 Red Sox (whom I hate) and 2 Yankees. Think the sports media is a tad biased? I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin... Your backups at 3rd are Joe Crede of the White Sox and Carlos Guillen of Detroit.

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Baby Jesus was also the ST selection. No question that Joe deserved the start here. His talent level is such that as long as he remains healthy (furiously knocking on wood), he should be your All-Star starter for the next decade or so. Dioner Navarro of Tampa Bay and Jason Varitek of Boston (whom I hate) are your backups. Varitek was voted in by the players, which is something of a head-scratcher since he's mired in a career-worst slump.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers; Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox (whom I hate); and Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Hamilton was an official ST selection. Milton Bradley, another ST selection, was placed on the team by manager Terry Francona, to replace David Ortiz as the starting DH (more on that below). Jermaine Dye, the final ST selection, has not been placed on the team, but is on the "last chance" ballot that allows fans to decide the final selections for each club. Go to http://www.mlb.com/ and vote early and often! The deadline is Thursday at 4pm Central Time. Ramirez belongs on the team, though I'd argue not as a starter. Ichiro is a stretch, but again wins his way on via popularity. J.D. Drew of Boston (whom I hate), Carlos Quentin of Chicago, and Grady Sizemore of Cleveland are your backups.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (whom I hate)
Aubrey Huff of the Orioles was the official ST selection. And unfortunately is the only American League ST selection who won't make the team. The Ortiz vote is a farce. He's been on the DL for over a month and had done nothing to warrant an All-Star selection prior to that. So because he's injured and can't play, AL skipper Terry Francona gave the start to Texas OF/DH Milton Bradley. Here's to hoping that Kansas City broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre won't be in attendance!

Pitchers: (Fans don't get to vote on these, but here's the list) Justin Duchscherer, Oakland; Roy Halladay, Toronto; Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay; Cliff Lee, Cleveland; Joe Nathan, Minnesota; Jonathan Papelbon, Boston (whom I hate); Mariano Rivera, New York; Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles; Ervin Santana, Los Angeles; Joe Saunders, Los Angeles; George Sherrill, Baltimore; Joakim Soria, Kansas City


1st Base: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros
Berkman was the official ST pick and a virtual lock for this spot. His numbers are Triple Crown contenders and there really wasn't any other 1st baseman who was close. Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego and Albert Pujols of St. Louis are your backups.

2nd Base: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Utley was the official ST pick and as much of a lock as Berkman was. He's also an MVP candidate which would make the 3rd Phillie infielder in a row to win the award. Dan Uggla of Florida is your backup.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
Ramirez was also the official ST pick. Damn, I'm doing better than I thought I would! I was reminded the other day that he came to Florida in a trade with Boston (whom I hate) for P Josh Beckett and 3B Mike Lowell. So do I hate players formerly with the Red Sox (whom I hate)? Nah. Once they leave it's like getting a repreive from the Governor. They earn a ticket out of the Pantheon of Hate. Cristian Guzman of Washington (this year's official "well we've got to pick somebody from that team" award winner) and Miguel Tejada of Houston are your backups.

3rd Base: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Well the streak couldn't last forever. Even though Chipper scored the best on the ST system, I voted for David Wright of the NY Mets, because I thought Jones was injured and wouldn't play. Alas, I was wrong and Chipper will be your starter. Wright is on the "last chance" ballot, so while you're voting for Jermaine Dye, cast a vote for Wright as well! Aramais Ramirez of the Cubs is your backup at 3rd.

Catcher: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs
Bengie Molina was the official ST pick and will not be on the club. I have no real problem with Soto as he's a likely Rookie-of-the-Year winner. Backups are Russell Martin of Los Angeles and Brian McCann of Atlanta. I'd have picked Molina over Martin naturally, but I won't complain too loudly with these selections.

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs; and Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs
Braun was an official ST selection. Carlos Lee is on the "last chance" ballot, and probably deserves your vote more than David Wright, but I'll leave that decision up to you fine folks. Ryan Ludwick was the other official ST selection and made the team as a reserve. Soriano and Fukudome are "popularity" picks. I give Fukudome a pass since he's a starter on my "Best Baseball Names" team. Soriano? Not so much. Matt Holiday of Colorado and Nate McClouth of Pittsburgh are your other backups.

Pitchers: Aaron Cook, Colorado; Ryan Dempster, Chicago; Dan Haren, Arizona; Brad Lidge, Philadelphia; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco; Ben Sheets, Milwaukee; Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati; Billy Wagner, New York; Brandon Webb, Arizona; Brian Wilson, San Francisco; Kerry Wood, Chicago; Carlos Zambrano, Chicago

So to sum up, 9of the ST 17 votes turned out to be starters and 12 (and potentially 14 depending on the "last chance" ballot) made the team as a starter or reserve. I'll take those numbers!

Now I have to address an unfortunate story out of Arizona. According to the Arizona Republic, it seems that OF Eric Byrnes may be shut down for the rest of the year. This isn't a huge shock as he's been on and off the DL for most of the year with various hamstring-related injuries. The thing about hamstrings is once they get hurt, they really need several months of inactivity and treatment to fully heal. They'll trick you and stop hurting after a bit, but if used in any kind of strenuous activity, they'll blow right out on you again.

That leaves a fairly significant hole in the Arizona line-up. Which is an opportunity to bring in the veteran presence that I've been calling for, for weeks. Unfortunately, it seems that one option G.M. Josh Byrnes is considering is one Barry Bonds. That would be a mistake. So, as I felt compelled to do when Twins G.M. Billy Smith was considering bringing in Frank Thomas, I offer up the following Open Letter to Josh Byrnes:

Mr. Byrnes:

First of all, allow me to congratulate you on your club's first-place performace over the first half of the season.

That said, as you are well aware, the Diamondbacks offense has been in free-fall over the last month and a half. And with the latest news on Eric Byrnes, you now have a hole in left field that is not easily filled. I know you're examining options outside your organization. I encourage you in that effort since it's my opinion that your club could use some added veteran leadership.

But I must also express my extreme consternation at the news that Barry Bonds is among the players you're considering. This would be a huge mistake for your organization for several reasons.

First of all, you have a very young club. Players that are still trying to find their way at the major league level are suceptible to influence from veterans. Sometimes this can be helpful. And sometimes it can be very hurtful. Bonds' presence in your locker-room would be more hurtful than helpful. While they might pick up a nugget or two of hitting advice, they'd have to fight through the walls that Bonds surrounds himself with to get them. And in the end, what they'd end up learning is to play for themselves and only for themselves. And that kills a ballclub.

Secondly, you'll recall that Bonds is facing a perjury charge. Do you really want to involve your club with that kind of PR nightmare? Every time there's an update on his case, he'll be referred to as "Arizona Outfielder" Barry Bonds. So your club's name would be synoymous with legal woes. This was one of the major reasons that San Francisco refused to re-sign him in the first place!

Finally, baseball is starting to emerge from the shadow of the performance-enhancing drug controversy. Bringing Bonds back to the game only serves to dredge up all of those demons and renew disussions of asterisks that are better left in the past.

So I implore you to resist the lure of signing Bonds. Yes, he has the potential to spark your offense. But the negatives I outlined far outweigh the positives he might bring.

Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of your season.

Dan Cook, Long-distance Diamondbacks Fan

Good heavens I hope that works!

That's all for today folks. I'm back on Friday with a make-up Peek at the Picks and an official DFTU. Until then, thanks for reading!

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