What's Making Me Talk: It's All-Star Time
So begins the time of the baseball season when I really get excited.
The reason for this is simple.
The All-Star period is my favorite time of the baseball season behind the postseason.
You see, I love seeing players who deserve to get rewarded with the publicity of being on the All-Star team.
I also hate with a passion how some players get snubbed by the way the MLB decides who plays in the midsummer classic.
And when I hate something, I need to yap on about it until I'm tired talking about it.
So I'm scrapping the usual top stories and going with extra random scribbles, all about the All-Star teams. This doesn't include my All-Star ballot, which will be out later this week.
You can say what you want, but...
You can say what you want about Adam Dunn, but he's on a good pace to be one of the elite home run hitters of...all time?
I think this is the second time I've done this about Dunn, but did anyone else notice he hit his 300th home run of his career? He's just 29 and the fifth player to reach that number in less than 4,200 career at-bats.
He joins 500-home-run hitters Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew, and Babe Ruth. Ralph Kiner was the only one to not reach 500 as he only hit 69 more home runs after reaching 300, but his career was cut short due to an injury.
So in the post-steroid era, Dunn has a legit shot to reach 500 home runs. His average bites, but he gets on base plenty and you can't deny his raw power. Is 500 home runs still a guarantee for the Hall of Fame?
Here are my thoughts that aren't long enough to drag out or just too stupid for someone to even think of. They are randomly scribbled notes in my notebook, duh.
I saw Eric Wedge blow-up like he's never blown-up before. By far the angriest I've ever seen him on Monday when a Ryan Garko roller was picked up on the first base line. The call was changed after the home plate umpire ruled it a foul ball and Ozzie Guillen came out to say something. Wedge went absolutely berserk.
In other Wedge news, he's going to remain as the manager for the Indians throughout the remainder of the season, no matter how bad it gets. I'm glad Mark Shapiro at least said something, rather then let doubt and uncertainty drift around.
Roy Halladay lost his second start earlier this week and then took a no-decision later. That's the first stretch of more than two starts where Halladay hasn't won a decision this season.
Tim Lincecum is a pretty good pitcher. A two-hit shutout earlier in the week and on Saturday he extends his scoreless innings streak to 23 with three hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts.
Juan Rivera hit a pop-fly to straight-away center field at Texas on Monday. It went over the fence for a home run.
Andre Ethier is a walk-off machine this year, it seems.
Ian Snell struck out 13 batters in a row for Triple-A Indianapolis. It looks like he's enjoying himself down there.
Cliff Lee was rocked on Tuesday, having his shortest outing since May 2006. That's even before his bad 2007.
Loving Martin Prado lately as he's taken over second base for Kelly Johnson because of his hot hitting. He went 4-for-5 with four RBI on Tuesday.
Dan Haren can handle the bat pretty well. He's 10-for-37 with a .270 average. Some guys can hit the occasional home run, but Haren isn't a slouch up there.
On the subject of hitting pitchers, Chad Billingsley hit his first career home run on Sunday. He also added his ninth hit of the year, two more than he had all of last season. That home run was also his third RBI, which matches his total from 2008. He's progressing as much as a pitcher can at the plate.
And we can't make pitcher hitting notes without mentioning Micah Owings was back to hitting this week and he hit his third home run of the year.
Jason Marquis stated his case for the All-Star nod with a two-hit complete game on Tuesday. He's now 10-5 with a 3.87 ERA. To think he was just a salary dump in the offseason.
Happy Canada Day! The Toronto Blue Jays celebrated by wearing red uniforms, something everyone is doing lately. Well not everyone, but they are all wearing those spiffy red hats. More on the hats in a second, but as far as celebrations go, Ricky Romero celebrated by pitching eight shutout innings.
I'm a fan of the red hats for two reasons. The Indians are 3-1 with them on and they are one of the few teams that actually look good in them. You either get your uniform enhanced because red is one of your colors, but not a main one, it doesn't look any different like the Cardinals or Angels, or it just looks ugly. Who has the worst combo? The red hats and the Royals' powder blue uniforms just don’t mesh.
Yovani Gallardo sat down 12 hitters via the strikeout on Wednesday. Mike Pelfry had half that number and record two more outs with seven less pitches. Oh yeah, he won too.
Jason Hammel must like July just as much as June. He rung in the new month with an eight inning complete game. Unfortunately his one run given up in the eighth lost the game.
Jim Thome is 12th all-time in walks as he recorded his 1,600th against the team he has 997 of them with, the Cleveland Indians.
Cubs' pitcher Randy Wells won his third straight decision on Wednesday. Not bad after starting out 0-3 with numerous no-decisions spread around.
I have down here, Texas 9, Los Angeles 7 with the comment "Now that's a Rangers game," right next to it.
I caught the tail end of the San Francisco and St. Louis game on ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball. Colby Rasmus is living up to the hype and he helped his rock-starness with a walk-off shot to win it for the Cards. Adam Wainwright was pretty awesome in that one.
Take note that the Cubs pretty much traded Joey Gathright for Jeff Baker, as the guy they traded Gathright for, Ryan Freel, was just cut to make room for Baker. You got all that?
You notice that I haven't really mentioned Manny Ramirez? I'm kind of Manny-ed out thanks to ESPN. So I'll talk about Casey Blake, who's been a real veteran presence for that club. Not to mention he's swinging a good bat.
The Indians made a mistake trading Franklin Gutierrez, but it was the only way to get both Joe Smith and Luis Valbuena. While I think Valbuena has the potential to be the Indians second baseman for years to come, and Smith can be a reliable part to a good pen, Gutierrez is taking off in Seattle.
A night after Derrek Lee hit knocked in seven runs, Shin-Soo Choo did it as well on Friday. He became the third player ever to do that, score four times, and steal a base. He joins the very elite company of Ted Williams and Willie Stargell.
A big part of Choo's night was Travis Hafner's presence in the lineup. If you ask me, after he hit a solo-shot off A's starter Trevor Cahill, both Cahill and A's relief pitchers avoided him like the plague. His next two at-bats were walks and the rest of the night when the game was over score wise, Hafner was probably just trying to hit something hard because everyone else was doing it and it looked so fun.
Hanley Ramirez's amazing streak of games with an RBI ended at 10 this past week. He's got 11 games though in the last 12 that he's had an RBI, with 26 total RBI in that span. That accounts for 44 percent of his total this year.
Adding onto that, Ramirez had seven games in which he had multi-RBI games. Putting that in perspective, Jhonny Peralta has had 10 of those all year and he's got just 35 RBI this season. Vlad Guerrero only has three multi-RBI games, his latest coming on Saturday.
Tim Wakefield surpassed Roger Clemens for the most starts in Red Sox history with 383.
Speaking of Wakefield, he was one of the three 10-game winners who pitched on Friday. None of them won, but at least he and Kevin Slowey didn't lose. Zack Greinke took a loss, but Slowey's night was ended after three innings and Wakefield gave up five earned.
Rodrigo Lopez is back from unknown whereabouts. It was his first start since June 26th, 2007 and his first win since the seventh of that month.
Tommy Hanson is having a pretty special year, unfortunately Adam Dunn ended his 26 inning scoreless inning streak with that 300th home run we talked about.
He isn't the only rookie Tommy H. starting pitcher to be doing good things though. Tommy Hunter of the Rangers won his first career start on his 23rd birthday. B-DAY!
Who says the Giants can't score? They had games in which they scored nine, 10, and 13 runs this past week.
Ricky Nolasco is back with a vengeance. Since getting recalled, he's given up two earned runs or less in all six starts. He struck out 12 hitters on Sunday. That's the Nolasco we know and love.
The Pirates had three players starting in center field on Sunday and hitting leadoff. Of course Andrew McCutchen was the only one wearing their uniform. Nate McLouth led off for the Braves and went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two runs batted in. Nyjer Morgan was 3-for-5 with one run scored, one run batted in, and one stolen base for the Nationals. Isn't that funny!?
Notebook Scribbles: All-Star Rosters
A special section of Notebook Scribbles dedicated to everything about the 2009 MLB All-Star Rosters.
Let's start in the AL with the starters, where I can't really disagree with anyone making the team there with the exception of Josh Hamilton. Hamilton doesn't even deserve to make the roster this year. He's definitely the star power fans want to see, but his numbers aren't on par.
His inclusion forced Torii Hunter to be a reserve, which took a way a spot for someone else as a reserve. The two leading candidates? I'd go with Adam Lind and Shin-Soo Choo. Lind is on the final vote ballot, but Choo isn't.
Speaking of the final vote, it's hard to argue with Chone Figgins being left off at third base in favor of Michael Young. Figgins still has a chance, but Young is such a pro for moving to third and doing it very well.
While Dustin Pedroia is the reigning MVP, I could understand the argument to leave him off. He was voted in, so it's a moot point, but I could take both Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano over him. Aaron Hill is a given, he's the best second baseman in the AL so far this year.
First base definitely always needs to have at least two reserves. Even though it's the simplest position on the infield, it always has the big stat players. The National League is crazy, but the American has its own log-jam. Miguel Cabrera leads all first baseman in average, Paul Konerko has 50 RBI, and Carlos Pena leads the majors in home runs. None of them made the team.
It's always easy to say, "Oh, such and such should be an All-Star," but it's not easy to say who they should be an All-Star over. I said it with Choo, I could say it with both Nick Markakis and Bobby Abreu, but who would I replace?
How about Tim Wakefield making his first All-Star game? Congratulations to him. If he didn't make it this year, he wasn't meant to make it at all, even if it's at the expense of Cliff Lee, who's having a better year ERA-wise.
Joe Maddon is just the type of manager that would select someone like Andrew Bailey. Another manager might have taken Kurt Suzuki to represent the Athletics and just take another closer instead of Bailey. Maddon took the best Athletic, even if he was just a middle relief pitcher most of the year.
Moving over to the National League, where two of the outfielders selected to start are both on the disabled list. What’s the difference between Josh Hamilton and NL outfielders Raul Ibanez and Carlos Beltran? Ibanez and Beltran haven't missed as much time and despite their missed time, they've put up outstanding numbers.
Seven first time All-Stars are on the NL pitching staff. A lot of new faces for the senior circuit.
Can you disagree with the four first baseman that are on the National League squad? I sort of can as I would have selected Pablo Sandoval over Ryan Howard, but I see why Charlie Manuel did what he did. It will be a major cramp on the versatility of the team, but I don't think Manuel is worried about that. Remember, National League rules, so pinch-hitting for the pitcher might come up more than once. Just hope it doesn't go extras.
Every year the NL shortstop position seemed to have a log-jam. This year, not so much due to injuries and down performances. That opened up the door for Miguel Tejada, who's having a good year on top of it all.
The log-jam this year, aside from first base of course, shifted from short over to third. Sandoval and Mark Reynolds both have strong cases. Of course Ryan Zimmerman was the lone representative from Washington, so someone is going to get left out. Both won't win the final vote.
You might notice that there is one extra pitcher on the rosters this year. That’s because after last year, added with the fact that this game now counts, the MLB allowed managers to add one more pitcher. They also made it very vague as to the criteria. Buster Olney ponders the possibilities, but it looks like in the end, the managers just picked a starter that deserved the honor.
Well I guess there's nothing more left to say other than to watch out for my own All-Star Rosters and my annual MLB Non-Stars. That and vote for the Kung Fu Panda in the Final Vote, of course.
These Are My Links, You Shall Click Them
The links were almost in danger after a virus hit my computer. I was able to recover my bookmarks though and everything is fine for now. I still can't use my laptop, but all the important stuff, especially the links, is safe.
Anyone that gets Sports Illustrated will no doubt see the players poll about the manager that players least want to play for. It was a big deal in Cleveland because Eric Wedge was in the top four with three World Series winning managers.
Ozzie Guillen had the best response to the poll though. He wasn't as vocal as Guillen, but Wedge isn't sweating it, and he shouldn't. I mean, Guillen knows what he's talking about, considering the managers on that list, minus Wedge, have all had success.
I also enjoyed the reaction Jack Wilson had to the latest trade the Pirates have made. I'll talk about Nyjer Morgan being dealt to Washington later, but Jack Wilson was very vocal about not just that trade, but all the others the Pirates have made.
I'm with Wilson in his anger, but you can tell the Pirates have no faith in the current team winning much. Sure they may have a shot to finish over .500 if they keep a Nyjer Morgan, but this team's regime is aiming for the future. They won't sit around when they can better that future.
A "steroid list" hit the Web this past week. It was a bunch of garbage. Deadspin did a great job busting the list with specifics that were off-base, but if you read through the list, all of those players are well known. I expect a list like this one to have a lot more lesser-knowns and struggling players on it for it to be legit.
I'm not going to say the name of the site that leaked this "steroid list" because they don't need the extra publicity that this fake list was intended to gain. Not that the 99 reads this column gets is any extra as far as publicity goes.
Grant Balfour and Ryan Rowland-Smith have had an impact on the MLB and no-doubt with their success; we'll start seeing more Australians pop up in the game. Especially now with the MLB helping to back a professional league that will be starting in Australia.
Someone couldn't handle Scott Boras anymore, so they did the mature thing and took it out on his Land Rover. That may sound sarcastic, but it isn't, taking anger out on Scott Boras' Land Rover is the mature thing to do.
It sucks to see the Moneyball movie die like it did. I was really looking forward to seeing how it was done. Who cares if it was too much like a documentary, I want to see the real thing, not a Hollywood version of it.
Roundabout of Randomness
You’ve got to love Milton Bradley mocking Pirate fans on Monday. Seriously, not even hours after I rip him he goes out and does it again. Why are you mocking Pirate fans anyway, hasn't losing two center fielders in one season been enough?
Speaking of trading center fielders, Nyjer Morgan was indeed traded to Washington this past week. He and Sean Burnett went to the Nationals and in return the Pirates received Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.
First off, I can see why the Pirates don't need Morgan, and they've got every reason to take a chance on super talented Lastings Milledge. I can also see the Nationals trying to change the culture by getting rid of Milledge. But why do the Nationals need Nyjer Morgan? You would have thought a contender would want him more.
Kind of like how the Yankees wanted Eric Hinske. The Pirates did indeed trade him as well; their fifth major league outfielder traded these past two years.
How about that comeback by the Baltimore Orioles over the Boston Red Sox? Five runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to top an epic comeback over Boston.
Not sure it has anything on the seven run ninth the Indians had over the Rays on Memorial Day, but that is pretty special against a good bullpen like Boston's.
Mark DeRosa got a sprain that makes the trade to St. Louis a little depressing. At least he didn't hit the first two hitters he faced and give up four runs like Chris Perez did with the Indians.
On the subject of injuries, the Twins had three of them in one game on Wednesday. Nick Punto, Mike Redmond, and Justin Morneau all left the same game with an injury. Not even the Indians have had that luck. Then again none of the injured players had to visit the disabled list.
And of course my line of great segues continue as I talk about Minnesota again. Good for Ron Gardenhrie saying he'll keep writing in Joe Mauer's name into the lineup so he can qualify for the batting title and the chance at an official .400 average.
So the Cuban Stephen Strasburg has defected? Aroldis Chapman is drawing comparisons to Strasburg, without the restrictions of being drafted to one team. The downside? He might be 26 years old. What a shame.
Chapman will sign soon, whether he's 21 or 26, the talent he has is still there ,according to scouts, and someone will sign him. Still the international free agent period started on Friday and the Cardinals invested $3.1 million into 16-year-old shortstop Wagner Mateo.
After the fiasco in which the Indians signed a player who was actually named Wally Bryan, not Jose Ozoria, and is actually a few years older than originally thought, I have even more disdain for the system.
To the top five ballparks in the major leagues, according to The Sporing News, are as follows: Fenway Park, PNC Park, Wrigley Field, Camden Yards, and AT&T Park. I've been at PNC and, stadium-wise, it might be the best. Nothing is better than Fenway or Wrigley as far as atmosphere and history goes though.
I want to go to both one day and plan on it. But I was at Progressive Field (11th by The Sporting News and pretty high on my ranking, but I'm biased) on Friday and I sat somewhere I haven't sat before.
I sat behind home plate, something I've wanted to do for awhile. I've sat everywhere in that park except there and down one of the baselines. I'm going to accomplish that second one later this season, but that park doesn't really have a bad view.
What would be a bad view is left field with a bunch of bees flying around. You thought the midges and seagulls in Cleveland were bad, how about those bees in San Diego for the Padres and Astros game?
As always, the best part is the game notes portion of ESPN's box score.
THE GAME RESUMED IN THE TOP OF THE NINTH INNING AFTER A 52-MINUTE BEE DELAY.
I mean we know bees infiltrated PETCO and caused a delay, but just reading that makes my week. A bee delay!
Nino Colla is Talking every Monday of the baseball season, or whenever time needs to be wasted, provided objects don't get thrown.
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