Monday, July 6, 2009

Your American League All-Stars?!

Took a whole weekend off, which was a first, and now I'm sitting in an Indiana hotel room on business and needing to go to bed. I'll make this quick.

From what I've seen of him, Joe Maddon is a pretty good manager. Certainly not great, and not nearly the tactical genius that his Professor Frink eyeglasses would suggest, but pretty solid. But give him half of baseball to work with and let him pick a roster out of it? Apparently not such a good idea.

The 2009 AL All-Star pitchers-and-reserves roster is...well, not terrible. But really, it shouldn't be all that hard to make it better than "not terrible." And Joe didn't.

And here's the amazing thing--the fans actually did a pretty good job this year. I mean, no, there's no way Josh Hamilton should have been elected even if he had managed to get into more than a handful of games in the first half, and Jason Bay's glove should've played him right out of consideration (and sometimes it's really hard to see defensive atrociousness, but there were a couple wallbangers in the Mariners-Sox game a couple days ago, and let me tell you--that guy has no idea how to play that Monster). Dustin Pedroia's play this year certainly doesn't justify taking him over Hill or Kinsler, but I'm willing to give the 2008 MVP credit for last year's second half. So all in all, not a bad starting eight.

But then Joe got his hands on it, and, well, have a look:

All-Star: Tim Wakefield, Boston Red Sox. 10-3, 4.30 ERA
Not: Dallas Braden, Oakland A's. 6-7, 3.13
Tim Wakefield is a fine pitcher having an awfully impressive year for a dude who'll turn 43 before the season is over. There is nothing a pitcher can do that the seventeen-years-younger Dallas Braden hasn't done better than Wakefield has this season, except play for a team that scores a bunch of runs.

All-Star: Brian Fuentes, Los Anaheim Angels. 23 Sv, 3.49, 28.1 IP
Not: David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners. 17 Sv, 1.41, 38.1 IP
Fuentes is leading the AL in "saves." You know how I feel about closers, and every year, there's at least one more or less average pitcher who gets into the game by racking up a bunch of saves (in 2008, if memory serves, we had a twofer, with George Sherrill in the AL and Brian Wilson in the NL). That's not entirely fair to Fuentes; his ERA is about average for a reliever, but his FIP is considerably better, at 3.11. Aardsma's, though, is 2.60, and in 10 more innings. I don't think 5 relief pitchers is really necessary to begin with (I think Nathan and Rivera would pretty well cover it), but if you've got to take a closer, it's got to be Aardsma. Fuentes is having a very Lee Smith-like year, with nearly as many save chances (26) as innings pitched (28 1/3).
You do have to credit Maddon, though, for picking Andrew Bailey, a very good reliever for Oakland, despite his having only 8 "saves." But Aardsma would've been an even better choice, and Braden would've been a better choice as Oakland's lone rep.

All-Star: Curtis Granderson, Detroit Tigers. .255/.339/.468 (108 OPS+).
Not: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers, .272/.334/.543 (126 OPS+) or Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, .324/.387/.544 (140 OPS+), among many others
This was, in my opinion, easily Maddon's worst selection. Granderson is having a weird year, hitting for much more home run power and with more patience than ever before but with almost no singles, doubles, or triples, so his overall value is way down. And his defense has slipped a bit, too, to where he's approximately an average center fielder. You don't need a Tiger, with Verlander and Jackson both (deservedly) on the staff. Cabrera belongs, but that gives you four 1Bs in a no-DH game. Nelson Cruz has been overlooked somehow, but his power and very good defense make him a much better pick than Granderson. Franklin Gutierrez (who had no chance because all his value is in his defense) would have also been a much better selection, among a few others.

All-Star: Michael Young .314/.370/.497 (126 OPS+)
Not:Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers, .269/.363/.505 (124 OPS+)
Picking a Tiger over a Ranger in the outfield may have been Maddon's worst selection, but picking a Ranger over a Tiger at third base was pretty clearly Maddon's worst omission. Brandon Inge, unlikely as it may be, has been one of the best players in the league this year. He should not have to wait for the silly final vote to get onto this team. And that vote will probably be won by Ian Kinsler anyway (another player more deserving than any of these guys, frankly), considering how Rangers fans seemed to stuff the ballot box in the original voting.
Young, who has always been pretty badly overrated by the batting-average-and-hustle set, is having a nice comeback year with the bat, but he was an atrocious defender at short whose move to third has not made him any less atrocious. I can understand Maddon's selection of Young in a vacuum, but if you're only going to take one 3B to backup Longoria, Inge is that guy.

There are other highly questionable calls, too, but those are the ones that jump out at me.

Gotta be honest with you, though -- I haven't even looked at the NL roster yet. I guess I should give Joe a break until I see what Charlie Manuel hath wrought...

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