July 7, 2009

No Manny, no A-Rod, no problem

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

Let’s face it, the big two really wouldn’t have deserved a trip to St. Louis if they had been voted in, and really, we, the fans did a great job in picking a all-star teams this year. Here’s how the ended up for the July 14 bash between the American League and the National League and, of course, I’ve got a few thoughts on the game too.

— How about that Tim Wakefield. The 42-year-old knuckleballer made his first all-star team this year and will no doubt baffle NL hitters who haven’t seen his knuckler dance before. Wouldn’t it be great to see him face off against Justin Upton, who is only 21?

— Mark my words: Ben Zobrist will not make another all-star team in his career.

— If Carlos Pena wins the Last Man fan voting and makes the AL team – which he might since he leads the league in homers – the Rays entire infield would be on the roster. Now that’s an accomplishment, even if their manager helped out.

—If I’m picking starting pitchers for the game, I’ll take Zack Greinke over Roy Halladay and Dan Haren over Tim Lincecum. As much as I like Doc, there’s no case to be made against Greinke and the only reason Haren is 8-5 is the horrible team surrounding him; that 0.81 WHIP is serene.

—Does the NL really need four first basemen? I know it’s their deepest position and those guys are all mashers, but Ryan Howard should be staying home this year. Also, they’re all lefties, which could limit their impact off the bench. Fittingly, they’re the four NL representatives for the Home Run derby too.

—There is a decided lack of lefties on both teams pitching staffs though. Maybe the NL’s strategy will work out fine.

—It’s fairly clear that the AL’s strategy was to go for versatility where they could. While Zobrist can play anywhere except catcher, most guys on the bench can play at least two different spots on the field. That’s going to come in real handy in a National League park with a lot of pinch hitting and double switching.

—There’s a reason why there’s so many AL East players (16) in the Midsummer Classic: It’s the best division in baseball. They can even add one more if Pena or Adam Lind win the fan vote too.

As for my prediction, it’s hard to go against an AL side that is unbeaten in the past 13 games. If the NL can manage to eke out a victory, it’ll be because of their pitching, but I don’t see it all coming together, even in a home ball park.

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