Two thoughts crossed my mind when I heard Jimmy Rollins was named as an All-Star replacement.
First, disappointment, because it will send a message to J-Roll and the Phils that his approach to hitting is just fine. If that makes me a bad Phan for jeering this choice, so be it. Chase Utley, Brett Myers, Pat Burrell, Cory Lidle and even Kenny Lofton, in that order, would get my nod over Jimmy as far as the Phils go. Crunching the advanced stats, Utley has a legit gripe. Second base is a tough call, however, with Marcus Giles and Craig Counsell each worthy of bids. I question Luis Castillo and his shallow .330 BA, but his defense smokes Utley.
As for my second thought on the J-Roll bid, what does Cliff Floyd have to do to earn some respect?
This was a spot where Tony LaRussa should have rewarded the best player instead of adding another lukewarm body at NL shortstop. Floyd should be starting the All-Star game anyway. He’s been hot almost the entire first half. Back in April, he and Derek Lee shared the title of hottest players on the planet, and for the season, his production numbers are comparable to Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and others.
All-Star disappointment is nothing new to the 34-year-old. A few seasons ago, Bobby Valentine, managing the National League team, omitted the Florida Marlin from the roster despite a red-hot first half. At the break, he was batting .342 with 21 homers and 70 RBIs.
As of Friday, he’s batting .289 with 21 homers and 53 RBIs.
Instead, teammates Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran are starting for the NL on reputation only. Piazza’s decline is well-known, and Beltran has been a high-priced bust so far.
As for Billy Wagner, he deserves it ... to a point. He’s pitched a ton of low-pressure situations this season, with the last tough outing resulting in a blown save against Atlanta. Like I stated earlier, he’s been good not great in my opinion, but this All-Star nod should increase his market value.
I’d like to see more pitchers like Jesse Crain, Chris Hammond or former Phil Cliff Politte make it. As for the position players, I was also pulling for Northampton, Pa. native Brian Schneider of Washington, who’s probably the best pound-for-pound catcher in the National League. I can’t stand Paul LoDuca.
The Phils get to take a shot at the Nats just as they’re on the ropes. I hoped to write something detailed on the Nationals earlier in the week, deciding whether or not they’re for real. They’re 30-12 in situations described as close (Hardball Times), with their best player, by far, closer Chad Cordero. He could earn votes for Cy Young and is without question the best reliever in baseball.
Here's where the teams stand in the NL East:
New York Mets: 43-42
Pythagorean win-loss (as of yesterday):
New York Mets: 43-42
Browsing the numbers, I have a hunch they’ll crumble in the second half. Their offense doesn’t score many runs, and pitchers like Ryan Drese and Esteban Loazia will get exposed, just as they did in the American League. Washington simply doesn't have the horses.