With the All-Star Selection Show scheduled to release the teams to the fans across the world in less than 10 hours, I thought I should chime in with my All-Star starting lineup picks.
C: Mauer – Severe power outage at home (0 HR at Target Field) is insignificant when compared to Mauer’s unparalellled ability to reach base and move runners along.
1B: Cabrera – Would love to give spot to Canadian Morneau, but 11 more RBI in five FEWER PAs for Cabrera hard to ignore.
2B: Cano – AL batting leader gets spot. Closest challenger (Pedroia) is now injured and Cano was already head and shoulders above the competition. Might as well add hips now too. 30/100 not unreasonable at this pace. OPS just under 1.000 (.977) doesn’t hurt either, especially from a notoriously thin position.
SS: Gonzalez – Leads shortstops in SLG, OPS, HR and RBI all with a BABIP that is average to slightly unlucky. Jeter would be closest competition but Jeter can’t hold a candle to Gonzalez with the glove.
3B: Beltre – Fenway has revived the ailing slugger. Leads 3B in OPS and is one point behind Cano for the batting lead. Defense is solid as ever too.
OF: Hamilton – .340/19/59. More than one RBI per game in June. That is all.
OF: Crawford – Low K-rate and .378 OBP led to 28 swipes
OF: Rios – Crawford with a bit less speed, more power. Cannon arm too.
SP: Jered Weaver – Leads AL in Ks while showing no peripherals to indicate major correction looming. Should start on his own mound.
SU: Valverde – SMALL ERA for the BIG Potato (under 1.00).
CP: Rivera – Sandman has been awoken at 40 and removed any doubt as to who the best closer in the AL is.
C: Olivo – .926 OPS stellar from catching position
1B: Votto – Most valuable of 1B in terms of team offense, Leads in WAR/wOBA. Won’t make the team though, because Pujols is the popular pick in arguably his worst year. That makes perfect sense.
2B: Prado – NL batting and hits leader deserves to start. This one should be easy since Chase Utley just had surgery.
SS: Ramirez – Leads NL SS in HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO and WAR. Closest competition (Tulowitzki) hurt, too.
3B: Rolen – Better OPS than Wright, K rate of 17% (Wright 30%). Still the best defensive 3B in the NL if not the game. Wright aided by absurd .402 BABIP while Rolen is at the average (.300). I sense a correction coming.
OF: Holliday – Most valuable OF in NL by WAR. 11 HR, 39 RBI not typical Holliday, but strong considering the funk that Pujols has been in. A hidden defensive gem, he has also nearly won the Cardinals a game with his defense alone.
OF: Ethier – .940 OPS tops among AL OFs as is .402 wOBA. His only knock is horrendous defense, as he ranks near the bottom of the NL in UZR.
OF: Hart – 18 HR, 60 RBI both near the top among NL OFs. BABIP about average (.308) although 17.8 % HR/FB will correct. Although he has not run much this year (4/7 SB) he has stolen 20+ in the past and his speed is surprising for his size.
SP: Johnson J. – Most valuable starter in NL (3.9 WAR tied with Roy Halladay) while 1.82 ERA is also the best mark. 0.96 WHIP is stellar for a SP, while 9.08 K/9 and 2.13 BB/9 build a ratio befitting of a true ace. Despite a 3.10 xFIP which would predict correction from one of the lowest HR/FB rates in the NL, All-Stars are picked based on past and present, not projections. In short, this is your guy.
SU: Broxton – 12.98 K/9 is nasty and 2.08 ERA shows bad luck, considering 1.32 FIP and 2.01 xFIP. .386 BABIP is unsustainably high, so Broxton should get better. Scary.
CP: Wagner – 14.04 K/9 even better than Broxton. At 39, he has resurrected himself as the most dominant closer in the NL after some injury-plagued time with the Mets. 50.3% FB rate is a concern, but xFIP shows a 2.50 mark, still very respectable. Of course, if the .168 opponents’ average (8th among NL RPs) holds up, the fly balls really won’t matter.
The Blue Jays got their season started on a positive note over the weekend as they inked designated hitter Adam Lind to a four year, $18M deal. The deal includes three options that could push the value to $38.5 M over seven seasons. Visions of Vernon Wells’ albatross and the Rios disaster which the Jays escaped (give J.P. credit) initally crossed my mind, but this deal is intelligent and has me excited. Alex Anthopoulos has charted a great course for his franchise. Build a core and supplement with free agents, not the other way around. It may take some time, but when success comes, it will be lasting.
The guaranteed portion of the deal runs through his age 29 season. The options are exercisable as three seperate options each covering one year. The scale of $1 million in 2010 and three years of $5M each make this friendly for a budget conscious team. The options are worth $7M, $7.5M and $8M and can be bought out at any time for no more than $2M. The options would bring him through his age-32 season (he would be 33 at the end, July birthday). At this point he would be entering his decline and the Jays would have had him through his entire prime. If they were to part with him at this point, they would not be losing much. They could also sign him for a contract of similar, or lesser value.
Since Lind’s entire value comes from his bat as a DH (he is a terrible defender), he will need to produce to make this deal worthwhile. While he may not get up to 35 homers again, a .290/25/90 line makes this contract acceptable in my opinion and he should easily eclipse those numbers for at least the guaranteed portion. Combine this deal with Hill, Snider and the Halladay prospects and there is a lot to like for this team’s future.
Thank you Alex, for such an incredible piece of negotiation and management. Moves like this could bring a winner to Toronto in relatively short order.
Keep up the good work.
Yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays allowed Alex Rios to go to the Chicago White Sox after they claimed him on waivers. They did not receive anything in return for Rios which has drawn some criticism. However, even though no players were directly acquired for Rios, the move may benefit the Jays much more than anyone would think.
Sending Rios to the White Sox forced them to assume the bulk of his contract, worth up to over $72 million through 2015. Rios has averaged 16 HR and 79 RBI per 162 games. Those are fine numbers, but not worthy of the contract that Rios was given. He may perform slightly better in a hitters’ park and better lineup in Chicago, but this was a worthy sacrifice. Rios, at times, seems disinterested and often had mental lapses on the field. He has tremendous talent, but the Jays simply tired of waiting for him to blossom.
Meanwhile, top rpospect Travis Snider has been terrorizing the AAA Pacific Coast League with a 1.063 OPS over 43 games. To avoid him becoming a Super Two player, he will be held in Vegas for the next week or two (sorry Bethany). In the mean time, Joe Inglett and Jose Bautista will platoon in right field.
The addition of Snider and whatever bat we can get for the money that is saved could be enough to put us over the top in 2010 and beyond. The money can be spent on a power-hitting designated hitter, preferably right handed, to round out our lineup. A portion of the money could also be used to fund a Roy Halladay extension. Keeping Halladay is paramount to any success the Blue Jays will have in the foreseeable future.
Even though, the loss of Rios hurts in the short term, the principle of addition by subtraction applies. Hopefully, the Jays can use the money saved wisely, and improve the team instead of overpaying an underperformer.