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San Diego Padres Pitchers Among Most Notable MLB All-Star Afterthoughts

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 San Diego Padres Pitchers Among Most Notable MLB All-Star Afterthoughts
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It's the same conversation, just a different year.

Every season, virtually every Major League roster has players deserving of All-Star selections that get left on their sofas for the weekend.

This year, the Padres pitching staff may be the most distinguished of the All-Star snubs.

The Padres have the best record (49-34) in the National League and boast the best team ERA (3.05) in the NL by a long shot (St. Louis is next at 3.28), yet couldn't command enough respect to land a pitcher on the roster.

The Padres have as many All-Stars as the Pittsburgh Pirates, the worst team in the NL at 30-52.

Their one All-Star this year is Adrian Gonzalez, certainly deserving of his third invite as a reserve. He's batting .291 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI.

Gonzalez was one of eight reserves selected by the players, coaches, and managers.

"It means a lot more than any other way to get in," Gonzalez said. "They're the ones that pay attention and really see what you can do on the field."

Commissioner Bud Selig has vastly improved the dynamics since the infamous tie game in 2002 in Milwaukee. Selig gave the midsummer classic a facelift and decided the game would determine home-field advantage in the World Series—rather than the previous alternative of merely rotating home fields on a yearly basis.

An outdated component of the player selection process is the rule that each team has to have at least one representative on its league's roster. In a game that is supposed to spotlight MLB's best players, some superior players are left off the roster in favor of less deserving players from weaker teams.

This argument is strengthened by the greater urgency of winning the game, due to the home field advantage in the World Series at stake.

Players that are producing better first halves statistically, and helping propel their team to the top of their divisions, are not being commended for their efforts. With the All-Star game now in its eighth year of "meaning something"—it's time to dismiss the one-player-per-team rule.

The 33-man rosters for each team are selected through the following process: Baseball fans vote on the starting position players (eight). The players, coaches, and managers vote 16 players; eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers) and one back-up player for each position. The manager selects nine players, followed by a final vote by the fans (via Internet) chosen from a list of five players.

It no surprise that the fans didn't vote in a player from the often overlooked Padres roster.

But the fact that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and other MLB players didn't feel the need to include Heath Bell (MLB-best 23 saves, 1.77 ERA) or Mat Latos (9-4, 2.77 ERA) is an insult to the Friars.

"To be frank it's kind of ridiculous I think," Tony Gwynn Jr. said. "Every year somebody is going to get snubbed, and it doesn't help that we're on the West Coast where people don't get to see our guys throw as much.

"Heath shouldn't be having to get in on a fan vote, but that's the way it works and hopefully we can get the fans behind him and get two guys in."

The 22-year-old Latos (99.2 IP, 70 H, 91 Ks, 0.96 WHIP) yields the lowest opponents batting average (.193) among all starting pitchers, and most importantly, has been the most reliable pitcher on the team with league's best record.

One could even make a case for Clayton Richard (6-4, 3.00 ERA), along with Mike Adams (2.25 ERA, MLB-best 21 holds) and Luke Gregerson (2.23 ERA, MLB-second best 19 holds).

The most deserving Friar flawed by the inept selection process is closer Heath Bell.

Yet, he isn't shocked that Manuel left him off the NL roster.

"For the pitching staff I know there's a lot of good National League pitchers out there," Bell said. "From starters to relievers—he has to make hard decisions."

Last year, when San Diego was in the cellar of the NL for the first half of the season, they received two All-Star selections: Gonzalez and Bell.

Bell (4-0) has struck out 49 in 36.2 innings, leads the league in saves, and already has two saves and a victory in the month of July, but does not have an invite to Anaheim July 13.

Unless, that is, Bell gets selected with the final vote for the last roster spot in the NL.

"At least I still have a chance," Bell said. "It's unfortunate that Luke (Gregerson) doesn't have a chance anymore, or (Mat) Latos, because they're well-deserving too."

Bell is a candidate along with Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Joey Votto (Reds), Billy Wagner (Braves), and Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals).

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