2015 All-Star Game Pre-Cap: Almost All-Stars and How Kansas City Broke (or Saved) the Fan Vote

Most blogs or writing sites would like to include surprise players that made the all-star team, and then rip them for not being good enough. I feel like that is an exercise in futility, because A) every team in the MLB must be represented, even the teams devoid of all-star caliber players; and B) because the players and coaches vote the remaining players in. That means that enough people around the league thought that guys like Brock Holt and Joe Panik played well enough to warrant all-star consideration. Who am I to say that the players and managers are wrong? If the all-star game was about selecting the best 25 players in each conference from around the league, then those two stupid rules wouldn’t exist.

However, because of these rules, a few worthy baseball players just missed out on making the Mid-Summer Classic. Here is a list of guys I think should have made the all-star team.

Snubs:

1) Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox

The current CF and former 2B has 9 HRs, 45 runs scored, 41RBIs, and 13 stolen bases to go along with a team-leading 2.9 WAR. He started off slow, but picked up the pace the last month and a half.

2) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox

He’s the reason a prospect like Betts is in the outfield. The “Laser Show” has recovered from a wrist injury that marred his 2014 season. With a .306/.367/.452 stat line to go along with 9 HRs, 34 runs scored, and 33 RBIs; Pedroia just missed out on his 5 all-star appearance.

3) Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees

He has the same WAR as all-stars Nelson Cruz and Prince Fielder, is second on the Yankees with 16 HRs, and has found the fountain of youth at age 40. I know he didn’t make the team because of the Biogenesis Scandal, but if guys like Cruz and Peralta can get a second chance, why can’t ARod?

4) Jake Arrieta, SP, Chicago Cubs

I’m going to give you a blind stat comparison. Which player is Arrieta?

Player A: 112.2 Innings Pitched, 7 wins, 4 losses, 114 strikeouts, 2.80 Earned Run Average (ERA), 1.05 Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched (WHIP), and 2.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Player B: 113.1 IP, 8 wins, 5 losses, 114 SOs, 3.34 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 2.1 WAR.

If you guessed that Player A is the Cubs’ ace, then you would be correct. But who is Player B? That would be World Series Hero and Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner. According to Fangraphs, Arrieta is sporting a WAR better than all-star pitchers Zack Grienke, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, and the aforementioned Bumgarner. It’s a shame he wasn’t even good enough to make it on to the Final Vote ballet. At least he’ll be an all-star in my heart.

5) Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

The 1B competition is historical brutal, and this year is not exception. With guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, and Adrian Gonzalez not only having all-star seasons but MVP-type seasons it’s not too difficult to see why Votto narrowly missed an ASG birth. If he can take solace in anything, it’s that he’s the odds on favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award this season.

6) Yunel Escobar, 3B/2B, Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper and the tremendous Nationals’ pitching staff get all the attention and headlines, which is why it’s easy to forget about the season Yunel Escobar has been having. With a .315/.365/.405 stat line as well as 40 runs scored, 27 RBIs, and solid defense at both 2B and 3B, Escobar has been a pleasant surprise for the Nats. The 9 year veteran from Cuba has acted as Harper’s wing man in the line-up, due to the injuries to Anthony Rendon, Jason Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman.

7) The Losers of the NL and AL Final Vote

Regardless of who gets voted in by the fans, 8 very worthy all-stars will be left empty handed. Guys like Twins 2B Brian Dozier, Rockies SS Troy Tulowski, Cardinals SP Carlos Martinez, Mets CL Jeurys Familia and Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas, league leaders at their respective positions, will be left out of the action. For many on this list, this would be their first all-star appearance. It’s a shame that, because league rules, many deserving players are hung out to dry by the MLB.

Speaking of rules, a big issue with this year’s ASG has to do with fan voting. For much of the summer, Kansas City Royals players were dominating the leader boards whether they deserved an all-star appearance or not.  Fans from opposing teams flooded the online ballots to ensure that players like Omar Infante and Alex Rios wouldn’t be voted in as starters. Many are clamoring for the MLB to change voting rules or the criteria for players to appear on the ballot. This year a broken system was exposed and now this will be a big issue heading into the offseason.

And I think this is pretty great. The ASG voting has been broken for a long time. Actually the whole ASG in general hasn’t been very good in a long time. Players like Omar Infante in 2010, Mark Redman and his 5.71 ERA in 2006, and Gil Meche in 2007 with his 9-13 record do not deserve all-star births. Not all teams need to be represented, and not all players need to be on the ballot. Players who deserve to be in the game should play in the game. I’m tired of seeing utility players and rosters with 8 closers because the game counts. No other all-star game in any other sport counts for anything. It’s just a fun exhibition game where star players show off their skills. The ASG needs to get back to it’s roots and allow the best players to play each, or else what almost happened this year is sure to happen in the near future.

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The Booth Review Vol. 7

1) Payback is a Bitch

Yesterday, the US Women’s National Soccer team beat Japan 5 to 2 to win the 2015 Women’s World Cup. This is the team’s first World Cup since 1999, avenging a loss to the same Japanese squad in the 2011 finals.

Carli Lloyd led the Americans with a hat trick (3 goals), which was the first in US Women’s soccer history. Because of her performance, Lloyd won the Golden Ball Award; which is the World Cup’s MVP. Plus, she made the longest goal I’ve ever seen from a professional soccer player.

https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/AC691FE60B1229618942503723008_31cbf7a7d95.4.1.16119305759570234145.mp4?versionId=O3arJnSRvBb3XZXvVZenkJlqKxsJSzhK

The team deserved this win, and the fame and notoriety that comes from it. Hopefully women’s soccer, and women’s sports in general, gets the boost it deserves from this showing.

2) Sign on the Dotted Line, Please

Even though it’s the NBA offseason, free agency is dominating the headlines. A lot of movement has taken place between now and July 1st. Here is a run down of the important NBA roster moves that have occured:

– The Spurs resigned Kawhi Leonard (5 years/90 million) and Danny Green (4 yrs/ 45 mil) and signed LaMarcus Aldridge (4 yrs/80 mil). They are now the Western Conference favorites.

(Editor’s Note: Que Aladdin song “I Can Show You the World”)

– Important free agents that resigned with their teams: Jimmy Butler (5 yrs/90 mil), Khris Middleton (5 yrs/70 mil), Draymond Green (5/85 mil), Kevin Love (5/110 mil), Marc Gasol (5/100 mil), Dwayne Wade (1 yr/20 mil), Paul Millsap (3 yrs/58 mil).

(Editor’s Note: Memphis now gets 5 more years of the smoothest big man in the league.)

– Important free agents that went to different teams: DeAndre Jordan (4 yrs/80 mil with Dallas), Greg Monroe (3yrs/ 50 mil with Milwaukee), Lou Williams (3 yrs/21 mil with LA Lakers), DeMarre Carroll (4 yr/ 60 mil with Toronto), Wes Matthews (4 yrs/ 57 mil with Dallas), Monta Ellis (4 yrs, 44 mil with Indiana), and Tyson Chandler (4 yrs/52 mil). The Mavericks replace old Tyson Chandler with “Young Tyson Chandler.” The dunks alone make this deal a win for Dallas.

(Editor’s Note: Can’t wait for those Dirk to DeAndre alley-oops. 7 footers passing to other 7 footers is like watching Unicorns and Leprechauns play in a field.)

For a more in depth review of NBA free agency, visit:

http://www.sbnation.com/2015/6/30/8860381/nba-free-agent-signings-tracker-2015-rumors

3) No Trade-backs

NHL free agency is happening right now as well, however, it’s the trades that have everyone around the league talking. Here is an important list of NHL trades:

– Brandon Saad was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft. Anisimov then signed a 5 year, 22.75 million dollar contract with Chicago.

– Buffalo sent defenseman Nikita Zadorov, forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and J.T. Compher and the No. 31 overall pick in the 2015 draft to the Avs in exchange for center Ryan O’Reilly and forward Jamie McGinn.

– Toronto traded winger Phil Kessel, forward Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon to Pittsburgh for forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling, defenseman Scott Harrington, and two conditional draft picks.

(Editor’s Note: Kessel might be my favorite non-Blackhawks hockey player in the league. He’s over-weight and out of shape, but he’s one of the best goal-scorers in hockey. Plus he really loves his smelling salts.)

For more free agent information visit: http://www.sbnation.com/nhl-free-agency

4) The Votes Are in; the Winners Are…

The MLB all-star voting ended this past weekend. Here is a list of starters and reserves for both the National League and the American League:

NL Starters-

C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

2B: Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

3B: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

SS: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (injured, will not play.); Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (injured, questionable to play.); and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

NL Reserves-

C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals; Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers

1B: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs; Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

2B: Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants; D.J. LaMahieu, Colorado Rockies

3B: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (replaced injured Stanton on roster.); Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

SS: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants

OF: A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks; Justin Upton, San Diego Padres; Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (will start for injured Stanton.)

SPs: RHP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals; RHP Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers; RHP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates; RHP A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates; LHP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants; RHP Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals; RHP Jacob deGrom, New York Mets,; RHP Shelby Miller, Atlanta Braves

RPs: LHP Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds; RHP Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates; RHP Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies; RHP Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers; RHP Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

NL Final Vote Candidates: RHP Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds; RHP Jeurys Famlilia, New York Mets; LHP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; RHP Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals; SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

AL Starters-

C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (injured, will not play.)

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

3B: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

SS: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals; Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

DH: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners

AL Reserves-

C: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays; Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics

1B: Price Fielder, Texas Rangers; Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (will start for injured Cabrera); Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees (replaced injured Cabrera on the roster)

2B: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

3B: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

SS: Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers

OF: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles; J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers; Jose Baustista, Toronto Blue Jays

UTIL: Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox

SPs: LHP Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox; RHP Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics; RHP Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays; RHP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners; LHP David Price, Detroit Tigers; LHP Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

RPs: RHP Brad Boxberger, Tampa Bay Rays; Dellin Betances, New York Yankees; RHP Wade Davis Kansas City Royals; RHP Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals; RHP Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles; LHP Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles; LHP Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins

AL Final Vote Candidates: SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox; OF Yoenis Cespedes, Detroit Tigers; OF Brett Gardner, New York Yankees; 3B Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals; 2B Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

The final votes are due by Friday, July 10th. I will have more in depth analysis on the topic coming tomorrow or Thursday. Stay tuned.

The Booth Review Vol. 6

1) Today is a Saad, Saad Day for Hawks Fans Everywhere

Brandon Saad was traded today in a seven player deal to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Hawks received forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, former Blackhawk Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, and a 2016 fourth-round pick. Along with Saad, the Blue Jackets received prospects Michael Paliotta and Adam Broadhurst.

Overall, I believe this is a terrible trade for the Hawks. Saad was only 22 tears old and coming off a 50 point season. If it’s true he received a 5 year deal with an average of 6.5 million dollars a year, then you clear the cap space to sign him. Or at least trade him for a bigger package than what the team got from Columbus. Anisimov is a 3rd line center, and Morin and Tropp are organizational depth at this point. Dano is only 20 years old, but Saad was a proven commodity at 22. You need to bring back more high upside prospects if you plan on trading a young, franchise cornerstone. If I’m in that Hawks locker room, I’m nervous that management may have to trim some more fat before the season starts.

(Editor’s Note: I’ll miss you Saadfather.)

2) I Choose You

This past Thursday the Chicago Bulls and 29 other NBA teams participated in the NBA Draft. The Bulls drafted Arkansas power forward Bobby Portis with the 22nd overall pick. My thoughts on the draft as a whole are right here: https://sportsfromthecheapseats.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/melo-has-no-zen-and-other-thoughts-from-the-2015-nba-draft/.

On Friday and Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks also participated in the NHL’s amateur draft. They selected forward Graham Knott with the 54th pick overall (2nd round) from the OHL. He’s a solid two-way forward, but not someone who moves the needle.

3) Silly Season Begins

At midnight tonight both NBA and NHL free agency begin. Both are sure to have a lot of moving and shaking going on, particularly on the NBA side. The cap sits a 67 million dollars this year, but it jumps to 90 million in 2016, and 108 (ish) million in 2017. That means that long term deals signed under this cap will be nothing compared to what can be signed in the years that follow.

Currently, a typical max money contract a player can sign is 5 years 90 million dollars. That’s about 30 percent of a teams total cap. The cap percentage is constant, which means when the cap go up, so does the value of a max contract. A max contract in 2016 would be around 135 million for 5 years, and in 2017 it would be around 162 million for the same length of time. That’s a ridiculous two year jump. Because of these facts, players and GMs a like are trying to jockey for leverage in negotiations. It will be interesting to see who goes where and for what price. Stay tuned, both the NBA and NHL offseasons should be exciting.