The MLB’s Most Popular Game

Or as it’s referred to more officially, the MLB All Star Game. After reading the voting updates, I wonder why they even attempt to hide the fact that it’s really a popularity contest and not an All Star Game.

To me, an All Star Game is a celebration of that season’s best players. It should be filled with deserving players, not players making it because they’ve had a few good years. However, year after year that’s what we see. Players who have already made a name for themselves get voted into the starting lineup by fans and some deserving players are left to hope they get named to the team by the managers.

On top of that, they give you 25 votes. It’s the fact they give people multiple votes per person that I have trouble wanting to vote for All Star Games or anything like that. I’m not going to take the time to vote several times over and over again, so my one vote is worthless. It also artificially inflates the vote numbers to make it appear like far more people are voting.

Looking just at the NL votes, Braves fans seem to be stuffing the ballot boxes better than any other team as they have a representative in the top-5 of every position, except for the outfield where Jason Heyward is eighth and Martin Prado is 12th.

Looking at this season’s voting and I sigh. Albert Pujols leads the field at first base. His fellow NL Central first baggers Joey Votto and Prince Fielder are following him. I’ll be the first to tell you that Albert Pujols probably doesn’t deserve to start the All Star Game, regardless he has about a 300,000 more votes than Votto. Both Votto and Fielder are more deserving of receiving the starting job in the NL.

Pujols: .275, 16 HR, 43 RBI, a 136 OPS+, and a 2.1 WAR.
Votto: .331, 9 HR, 43 RBI, a 167 OPS+, a 3.0 WAR
Fielder: .297, 19 HR, 59 RBI (first in MLB), a 177 OPS+, and a 2.8 WAR.

At second base, Brandon Phillips is leading when Rickie Weeks is far more deserving. At short stop, I can see why Troy Tulowitzki is leading, but you can also make an argument for Jose Reyes who leads the majors in batting average right now.

When we get to the National League outfield, we reach the real issue with the voting. Right now Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday are the starting outfielders. Matt Kemp is currently 5th in the voting, but he has been the best player in the major leagues so far this year. He leads the league with 20 HR, has the highest OPS+ in the league at 196 and has a 4.4 WAR. Yet he still trails his teammate, Andre Ethier in the voting. Ethier’s numbers are nowhere near Kemp’s either.

If the game “counts” by giving the winner home field advantage in the World Series, the best players in each league at that moment should start the game. If not, the chances of that league winning home field advantage is hurt. Teams advertise that you should just vote for your favorite team’s starters down the line, no excpetions.

If you are the fan of a playoff contending team, you should be voting for the best players in the league, regardless of whether they play for your team or not, to give your team the best chance at winning home field advantage for a potential World Series run. Most fans aren’t going to realize that and will just vote for their favorite players or their favorite team’s players.

Maybe Major League Baseball should consider allowing the fans to vote the roster instead of the starting lineup. Figure two or three players for each position and then let the game’s managers select the starting lineup. That allows the fans to pick the team and see the players they want, but the managers to use the players the best way possible in order to win the game. The fact that an exhibition game affects the outcome of the World Series is ridiculous.

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Should Kazmir interest the Cardinals?

Reading MLB Trade Rumors today and it appears that the Anaheim Angels will likely release Scott Kazmir. Kazmir, 27, has had trouble coming back from back stiffness that landed him on the disabled list. His return to Anaheim he allowed 5 runs in less than 2 innings. That’s not pretty. It seems that the Angels have designated him for assignment based on tweets I’ve read.

The question is: Should the Cardinals bring him in?

There are many guys over at CardsClubhouse who are salivating over the idea of bringing Kazmir onboard. Honestly, while I’d love to get him to Memphis to see if we can’t figure him out, the idea of him on the major league roster at this point scares me. We already have one project on the major league roster in Ryan Franklin. Do we need another?

MarTeezy, my oft nemesis on the forums in many discussions and debates over the last year, had a brilliant idea. Bring him in as a LOOGY.

Since Brian Tallet went down with his broken hand in April, the Cardinals have not had a good left handed option out of the bullpen. Since Tallet went on the disabled list on April 13th, Trevor Miller has an ERA of 4.00 over 23 appearances and 9 innings. He’s allowed a walk or a hit in 15 of his 23 appearances. And while left handed batters are hitting just .194 against him, their on base percentage is .359. Since Tallet has returned, he has a 11.12 ERA over 8 appearances and 5.2 innings. Continue reading

The ones where the Brewers swept

It was an ugly, ugly sweeping at the hands of the new front runner in the NL Central. Over the 3 games the Brewers outscored the Cardinals 17-6, with 13 of those 17 runs being scored against the Cardinals starting rotation. That leads me to my first note.

  • The starting pitcher has struggled so far in June. In 11 games in June, the Cardinals pitching staff sports a 4.63 ERA (compared to a 3.28 in April and 3.91 in May). In June they are the 24th best pitching staff in the league by ERA. While the injuries to Matt Holliday and other members of the offense are taking the headlines, behind the scenes the pitching has cost us games.
  • Speaking of the offense, the team that scored the most runs in April, the sixth most runs in May, has currently scored just the 12th most runs in June. While Holliday hitting the DL has gotten the most attention, the lack of depth after the injury to Allen Craig is really what is hurting the Cardinals right now. Craig has filled in admirably in games where Holliday has been injured. In games where Craig has played and Holliday has not, Craig has a .298 batting average with a .359 OBP. He’s added 2 HR and 9 RBI.
  • Should the sweep by the Brewers concern Cardinals fans? Yes and no. Yes, in that, it is the Brewers and I expect that they are the team we will be fighting in September for a playoff spot. No, in that the Brewers are finally at 100% after some early injuries and are really hot right now while the Cardinals are thin with Holliday, Craig, and McClellan on the shelf.
  • Andrew Brown became the sixth (if my memory is right) Memphis Redbird to make his major league debut for the Cardinals this season. His was relatively forgettable as he struck out in a pinch hitting appearance. The 26 year old has done nothing but hit for power through his minor league career. He had 21 home runs in 2008, 22 last year in Springfield, and already had 11 for Memphis this year along with a career high .357 batting average. With Holliday hoping to return Thursday and Craig on the DL for at least another week and a half, it would be nice to see Brown get a start or two for the Cardinals to show what he’s got as he makes in game adjustments.
  • Also, you can catch me with Dathan Brooks on the UCB Radio Hour this Wednesday night. Realignment was something we were kicking around on his blog the last couple weeks and now the news comes out that this is something that’s really being considered by Major League Baseball. We will cover that topic and more on Wednesday night at 10:30 eastern (9:30 Cardinals time). You can listen and check out more information on the show here.

Roster talk: Boggs up, Lynn down

The word today is that Mitchell Boggs is on his way back to St. Louis while Lance Lynn is headed back to Memphis.

Lynn, 24, had moments of brilliance and moments of disappointment in his two major league starts. At times he would cruise through the other team, and then he would struggle. In the end, he was 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA as he threw 10 1/3 innings in his two starts.

Boggs, 27, posted a 2.45 ERA in 14 2/3 innings in Memphis over 4 starts. His demotion to the Redbirds was part of an overall play to stretch him back out as a starter just in case one of the team’s starters went down longer term. It was Boggs who was the best candidate for this move as he has both starting experience and major league experience.

But Boggs will return for the Cardinals as an off day allows the team to skip the appearance of Kyle McClellan‘s spot in the rotation next time it comes up. Boggs’ return will allow for another arm in the over worked bullpen, but apparently the Cardinals would still rather him be in Memphis starting.

What this does, though, is creates some interesting storylines when guys start coming off the disabled list. Continue reading

The ones where I got married

Some of my more recent notes since I took the hiatus in the time leading up to, during, and after my wedding. I am now back with regular contributions. Big thanks to Jerry for hitting the draft hard. Lots of good stuff in the last few days.

  • First note goes to Albert Pujols. Since I got married, Pujols is hitting .438 with 4 HR in the 4 games since Saturday. My personal water mark for declaring a player officially over a slump is to see them perform at their regular level against three consecutive opponents. Pujols has done that. Over the last 9 games, he has hit .400 with 6 HR and 11 RBI. His slugging percentage if 1.000. He added on 5 walks. On the positive side he’s had just 2 strikeouts and just one GIDP. To me, that signals a big turnaround for him this season. Hopefully there is no turning back at this point and that this is more like the Albert Pujols we’re going to see this year. I’d rather that than the situation of the Pujols of the first two months of the season being the norm and this just be him on a hot streak. Only time will tell.
  • Listening to last night’s UCB Radio Hour and there was a discussion on Allen Craig and what happens to him once Holliday is back and healthy. Craig is the one player that has truly benefitted from the injuries. Last year it was said that he is a player that needs regular playing time to be consistent and the injuries have allowed him to get it. So far this season he’s hitting .336 with 4 HR in just two less plate appearances than last season where he hit just .246 with 4 HR. His OPS+ has jumped 70 points and while he posted a -0.1 WAR last year, he is currently sporting a 1.7 WAR so far this season. The question is whether Craig at second base is a truly viable option for the Cards. In a small sample size, the defensive metrics contradict each other, so those results are inconclusive in my mind.
  • I was disappointed that I missed the callup of Matt Carpenter. Unfortunately he has just 1 hit, that came in his debut, and has been unable to be as successful as he was in spring training. He has the chance to take command of the position until David Freese returns and could pretty much set himself up to battle for the starting position in 2012. If he’s successful, Carpenter could convince the Cards to use Freese as a trade chip in the offseason and let Carpenter and Zack Cox battle it out for the starting role. It’s an option, but only one if Carpenter turns it on and adjust back to major league pitching.
  • Lance Lynn had a solid start in his debut. He found a bit of trouble, but reports were generally positive. He gets another start tonight against Houston. Hopefully I will get a chance to watch it and he’ll turn in a solid start so that the Cards can win the series.

Cardinals’ MLB Draft Recap: Day 2

After having 1 selection on Day 1 in which we took Kolten Wong out of Hawaii the Cards had a full day of picks. Wong isn’t projected to be a tough sign nor will it take much, if any, overslot to sign him. With that said I anticipated that we would take a few gambles for upside in Day 2. The day started off well with a nice selection of Charlie Tilson but very few exciting picks the rest of the day. The biggest disappointment was the amount of upside talent that we passed on throughout the 2nd Day. They went athletic with their 3rd and 4th Rd picks and made their first pitching selection in the 5th. Local product Lance Jeffries was nabbed in the 10th Rd and is quite intriguing as is 2 catching prospects in Adam Ehrlich (6) and Aramis Garcia (20). On a side note we did get some interesting names such as Martini, dual and plural last name Peoples-Walls, a kid named Dutch and a Sherriff. Here is a list of picks for the day with some comments on key players. Overall the Cards draft has not been spectacular but they are showing they want to improve on the position player side early in the draft and then after the 15th Rd they went heavy on pitching. After 30 picks I am not that thrilled as I don’t know if anyone but Wong would project to break out Top 10 prospects for 2012. Tilson has a chance but I would think he is in the teens until he can prove some things with a wood bat in pro ball. Continue reading