In case you weren’t aware, there are other storylines in baseball besides a certain shortstop getting his 3,000th hit. So, as the first half of the 2011 season comes to a close, we talk with FOX Sports analyst and former first baseman Eric Karros:
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The Daily: How do you think the first-half surprises will fare the rest of the season?
Eric Karros: I guess one surprise would be Arizona. I don’t think they stay in the race. The Diamondbacks are playing better than they really are. I think the Giants will make a move to bolster their offense. They’re doing it with their pitching. Tim Lincecum hasn’t been great yet, and remember he had a run in September and October last year that was unparalleled, and this was after an August that was a nightmare. Jonathan Sanchez, he’s on the DL now, but I think he’s going to pitch better. Madison Bumgarner’s going to be pitch better, and they have Ryan Vogelsong. They still have the potential to run away with the division. Cleveland has been a surprise — I think the fact that the division has struggled so much has probably been more of the surprise that’s allowed Cleveland to be where they’re at. Do I expect them to be there at the end? No.
TD: If you’re the Mets GM, do you trade Jose Reyes?
EK: I’m not sure I do that right now. If the Giants come to me and offer Sanchez or something along those lines, then I’ve got to think about things. I’m just not sure anybody’s going to come out and overpay, so maybe it’s better to get the draft picks. Any team that goes after him is going to have to empty the bank prospect-wise and they’re going to have to sign him. It’s like you’re taking a double shot to the shorts.
TD: Derek Jeter has his 3,000 hits, but he’s still struggling. Are the Yankees in trouble?
EK: I don’t think the Yankees are going to lose money because of that. He’s one of those guys you can never count out because he’s somebody who is going to continue to work, he’s not going to embarrass you off the field. If the Pirates gave a guy a contract like that, they’re screwed for years.
TD: Does the All-Star selection process need to be changed?
EK: You still have to keep the fans involved on some level, but because the game impacts the World Series, I think you have to give the managers a little more power picking their teams. Last year, Charlie Manuel took some heat for brininging in some guys, specifically Omar Infante, but he was building his team to win a game because he felt that if Philadelphia had home-field advantage, it would have been a different World Series. You’re trying to create a team with what you need to win a game.
TD: Do you like that the All-Star Game decides home-field advantage in the World Series?
EK: I like it. While it was cute that Randy Johnson threw a ball and John Kruk changed his helmet and all that, that’s not what that game is. Would you have ever seen Pete Rose do something like that? No. I think there had to be something done.
TD: Is realignment a good idea?
EK: I’m not sure I like the two leagues of 15 where the top five teams from each league get into some sort of playoff system. If you’re leading the league, and you got 20 games to go and mathematically it’s impossible for you to drop out of the playoff picture, how does that impact what you do as far as playing meaningful games over the last month? I still like the divisions, but I don’t think there’s any question you’ve got to do something with the AL West. If I’m playing in the AL West, I’ve got a huge advantage over everybody. I mean, four teams? You gotta be kidding me.