By the time the fans and players get done voting and by the time managers make sure every team is represented, there isn’t much flexibility in the All-Star selection process. Still, I’ve got a few quibbles. We’ve all got a few quibbles. It’s America, darn it, and we’re all going to have our say!
My biggest problem in the American League (see roster) is that neither the White Sox’s Chris Sale nor Angels’ Garrett Richards made the pitching staff. My No. 1 beef in the National League (see roster) is that manager Mike Matheny chose third baseman Matt Carpenter over Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee or Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau.
We all get it: To the victor belongs the spoils, and All-Star managers historically reward their own. Carpenter played a huge role in helping the Cardinals reach last year’s World Series, but three Cardinals already had made the team — catcher Yadier Molina (fans), right-hander Adam Wainwright (players) and reliever Pat Neshek (an inspired choice by Matheny). Carpenter could not have complained if he was left off.
Matheny did right by his division, using his own choices to make terrific calls on Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, Pirates super-utility man Josh Harrison and Pirates lefty specialist Tony Watson. He also selected Dodgers righty Zack Greinke, as well as Padres righty Tyson Ross, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann as their teams’ only representatives. I just want to see McGehee and Morneau.
McGehee is a great story, a lunchpail player who spent last season in Japan and is now tied for sixth in the NL with 53 RBI despite hitting only one home run. He leads Carpenter in OPS, .783 to .764, though Carpenter’s defense gives him the edge in wins above replacement. For good measure, McGehee also went 7-for-13 over the weekend while helping the Marlins win two of three over Matheny’s Cardinals.
Morneau, meanwhile, is an even better story than McGehee, at least for an All-Star Game in the Twin Cities, where the first baseman spent most of his career. His return to Minnesota, after all his struggles with concussions, would be poignant and triumphant. But for it to happen, Morneau will need to prevail in the Final Vote over McGehee, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Braves left fielder Justin Upton. Aarrggh!
As for the AL, I omitted Sale from my own initial roster, but awarded him the spot that ultimately went to the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka, who pitches Sunday and can elect not to participate. Yes, Sale spent a month on the DL, but so did the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, whom the players elected in the NL. As it stands, Sale is probably one start away from qualifying for the league leaders and would be second to the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez in ERA.
Richards, meanwhile, is seventh in ERA and the top pitcher on an Angels team that boasts the second-best record in the AL yet inexplicably has only one All-Star, outfielder Mike Trout. Like Sale, Richards is on the Final Vote ballot, along with Astros right-hander Dallas Keuchel, Indians righty Corey Kluber and Tigers righty Rick Porcello. All five are deserving, but in yet another Year of the Pitcher, snubs are inevitable.
Will be writing about ASG selections tonight. One thing: Farrell has a pitching spot to play with Tanaka pitching Sunday. Hello, Chris Sale.
The players elected the first eight pitchers — five starters (Tanaka, Hernandez, the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle, Athletics’ Scott Kazmir and Rangers’ Yu Darvish) and three relievers (the Royals’ Greg Holland, Athletics’ Sean Doolittle and Yankees’ Dellin Betances). After that, Boston manager John Farrell had to pick representatives for the Rays (David Price), Red Sox (Jon Lester) and Twins (Glen Perkins).
The manager could have snubbed Perkins and gone with catcher Kurt Suzuki, the replacement for the Orioles’ injured Matt Wieters, as the only Twins’ only rep; Perkins, though, is a Twin Cities native who has spent his entire career with the Twins. Farrell also could have left off the Tigers’ Max Scherzer, but it’s difficult to argue with the inclusion of the reigning Cy Young winner, right?
The best-case scenario now would be for the fans to elect either Sale or Richards in the Final Vote, and then for Farrell to name the other to replace Tanaka. Farrell, however, indicated that the "next up" is his own pitcher, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. Again, it’s difficult to argue — Uehara, the ALCS MVP, is 18-for-19 in save opportunities with a 1.30 ERA. But maybe Uehara will beg off, citing fatigue, and everyone will be happy.
The rosters, to be sure, are fluid.
Injured Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, selected by Farrell as a reserve, will need to be replaced (David Ortiz?). Meanwhile, four NL pitchers — Ross, the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and Braves’ Julio Teheran — are on track to pitch Sunday. That would open spots for other deserving NL pitchers, and I’d go with the Padres’ Huston Street, Reds’ Alfredo Simon, Giants’ Tim Hudson and Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez.
We can talk about other snubs — Giants catcher Buster Posey and Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano in the NL, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, Rays reliever Jake McGee and Mariners closer Fernando Rodney and third baseman Kyle Seager in the AL. We can complain about Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon getting elected by the players solely because of his big April. But as I’ve written before, many of the snubs are only temporarily, and most of our grievances will be addressed by the time the game starts.
Then it will be time to complain about something else.