The Phillies are showing signs of coming out of the painful slump they’ve been in the last month or so. They are 9-4 in their last 13 games and have scored over 5 runs in 9 of those games (8-1) and over 7 in 7 of them (6-1).
Instead of Good News / Bad News (I feel it gets a little mundane when you do it in back-to-back series), I’m going to help Charlie Manuel out picking the NL All-Star team.
Let’s start with the likely starters based on the most recent vote. I’m going to assume that David Wright will pass Placido Polanco (as he should) and that Yadier Molina will hold off Brian McCann at catcher.
C- Yadier Molina, STL
1B – Albert Pujols, STL
2B – Chase Utley, PHI
3B – David Wright, NYM
SS – Hanley Ramirez, FLA
OF – Ryan Braun, MIL
OF – Andre Ethier, LAD
OF – Jason Heyward, ATL
OK, so Charlie doesn’t really have a choice on those, but he’s got 26 spots left to fill. Obviously there needs to be one player from each team. I’m going to select 14 pitchers and 12 additional hitters.
The first thing I would do, were I Charlie, would be to get the 1-player teams out of the way. There are 3 teams with under a .400 win% who shouldn’t have more than 1 player at the game: Pittsburgh, Arizona and Houston. Houston is pretty easy, as Roy Oswalt is clearly their best player this season. Pittsburgh doesn’t really have anyone to offer, but they do have one of the best (if the the best) late inning relievers in Evan Meek (44 IP, 1.02 ERA, 0.86 WHIP). For Arizona, it comes down to 2B Kelly Johnson and OF Justin Upton. Let’s see what we need later and pick one of those two.
The next step is to get the no-doubt guys out of the way. That list would look like this for me…
- Ubaldo Jimenez, COL
- Josh Johnson, FLA
- Roy Halladay, PHI
- Adrian Gonzalez, SDP
- Joey Votto, CIN
- Martin Prado, ATL
- Scott Rolen, CIN
- Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
- Troy Tulowitzki, COL
- Brian McCann, ATL
- Yovani Gallardo, MIL
- Adam Wainwright, STL
- Heath Bell, SDP
- Billy Wagner, ATL
With those 14 and the 10 from above, we only need 10 more players to round out the roster. We need 5 pitchers, a 2B, a SS and 3 OF. First, let’s see which of those AZ players we can place. Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati is really close to a no-doubt guy and he’s playing on a 1st place team. Kelly Johnson shouldn’t get in over him. Meanwhile, the NL OF crop is pretty weak, so I’m going to put Justin Upton in for Arizona. That leaves 5 pitchers (I want at least one more reliever), a SS and 2 OF. Also we have to keep in mind that the Cubs and Giants are the only teams without a representative yet.
I’m going to look at the 5 pitching spots first. There are so many guys out there having great years, there are definitely going to be snubs here. Let me start out by saying that Stephen Strasburg is on my team. Yes, he’s only made 4 starts, but they have arguably been the best first 4 starts in MLB history. He will have made 6 starts by the time of the game, and if you are Charlie Manuel, you want to win this game, and he’s definitely one of the best 14 pitchers in the NL. There are 13 pitchers with an ERA under 3 so far this year in the NL. 5 of them are already on my team. Since I have Strasburg already and need 1 more reliever, these 8 pitchers will vie for 3 spots.
- Jaime Garcia (7-4, 87.1 IP, 2.27 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 70K)
- Tim Hudson (7-3, 99.1 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 45K)
- Chris Carpenter (9-1, 109.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 95K)
- Mike Pelfrey (10-2, 99.2 IP, 2.71 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 63 K)
- Matt Cain (6-6, 102.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 70K)
- Clayton Richard (5-4, 95 IP, 2.75 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 71K)
- Mat Latos (8-4, 91.2 IP, 2.85 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 84K)
- Mike Leake (5-1, 89.1 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 58K)
Right off the bat Garcia is out (not enough innings, too many Cardinals on the team already) and Richard and Leake are out (WHIP is too high, implies a lot of good luck). Latos is in, as that 0.99 WHIP is 2nd to only Josh Johnson (and better than Ubaldo) and the 1st place Padres should have a 3rd player. Pelfrey is in because he’s been a savior for the Mets so far, and they only have 1 player in at this point. The final spot has to go to Cain, Carpenter or Hudson. Cain would be the easy choice since the Giants need a rep, but they have a good option for a remaining position player as well. Just looking at the numbers, you have to take Carpenter, by the smallest of margins.
This leaves only a reliever, a back-up SS and 2 OF for the roster.
The back-up SS goes to Juan Uribe of the Giants, who has easily been the 3rd best SS in the NL this year.
At reliever, we bypass some deserving closers (Jonathan Broxton, for instance) to get a Cub on the roster. Carlos Marmol might be wild, but his obcene 16.68 K/9 rate would be the best mark in MLB history by far (14.98 by Eric Gagne) and his 4.5 H/9 rate would be the 4th best in MLB history.
Only 2 spots left, both for outfielders. Colby Rasmus should be one, as he leads NL OF in OPS and is 2nd in HR and 5th in runs scored. The final spot comes down to Jayson Werth, Corey Hart, Josh Willingham and Alfonso Soriano. It’s really a toss-up, but Werth gets the nod because of his excellent defense and the fact the Brewers, Nats and Cubs haven’t played well enough to deserve another player on the roster.
So that’s it, here is my final NL All-Star roster (sorted by team), for Charlie Manuel’s approval:
Tough ommissions: Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Jonathan Broxton, Corey Hart, among others
Let me know what you think in the comments…
Series Preview: Phillies at Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball this year. For a team to surprise, a couple things need to happen that no one really expected. For the Reds, that has been the resurgence of Scott Rolen and the emergence of rookie pitcher Mike Leake. They get by mostly on hitting, they rank 5th in the MLB in BA and HR and have a deep line-up that features likely all-stars Rolen, Votto and Phillips and above-average contributors in Jay Bruce, Jonny Gomes and Ramon Hernandez.
Monday (7:10): Kendrick vs. Johnny Cueto (7-2, 3.97 ERA)
Tuesday (7:10): Blanton vs. Mike Leake (5-1, 2.92 ERA)
Wednesday (12:35): Halladay vs. Aaron Harang (6-7, 5.04 ERA)
3 Questions for the Series
- Can Scott Rolen finish his career strong and be a real HOF candidate (more below)?
- Will Mike Leake’s good luck (1.41 WHIP, 2.92 ERA) turn?
- When we will see a fully healthy line-up again?
I think we will win 2 of 3, splitting the first 2 and winning Halladay’s start. I did want to take a moment to talk about Scott Rolen. I don’t really think about Rolen as a HOF candidate, but his numbers show that he should be probably be considered.
Here’s a quick argument for Rolen as a HOFer.
- Rolen’s next HR will be his 300th. He needs only 37 more doubles for 500 for his career. Should he get to 300/500, he would join George Brett as the only 3B to reach both numbers.
- His .870 career OPS is 5th all-time among 3B with 1,000+ games (Chipper, Schmidt, Eddie Matthews, non-HOFer Al Rosen).
- Only Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) have more Gold Gloves than Rolen at 3B (7).
He’s a borderline candidate and if he gets in, I would think it would be more for his defense than anything else, but if Omar Vizquel ever gets in, Rolen should as well.