We just passed the half-way point of the season this July 4th weekend and after 82 games, our beloved Twins are 44-38, good for 2nd place in the AL Central, 1/2 a game behind the Tigers. Some might say that this is the low-point of the season so far considering that the Twins just lost the division lead yesterday and they also lost 3 out of 4 against the Rays over the weekend, including two blown leads by the bullpen. I guess I take solace in knowing that this team is still in it and towards the end of this month, have a nice easy schedule for a couple of weeks (Indians, Orioles, Royals, Mariners). As Gleeman covered on both his blog and on Hardball Talk, there have been some rumors swirling around that the Twins are shopping around prospects for Cliff Lee in hopes of adding him to their rotation. I agree with Gleeman though, I really hope that the package that is being reported is not real, because that would be too much to give away. Don't get me wrong, Cliff Lee would be a fantastic addition to the rotation and I would be ecstatic about that, but bringing on one guy to make a run at the championship is not worth leveraging the future.
Now some All-Star game thoughts. I was very happy to see that Joe Mauer lead the way in all-star votes. That could probably be attributed to the glut of media coverage that his signing received early in the season, but is nevertheless cool. The M&M boys are both starters for the AL squad with Morneau starting at 1st base. I thought maybe Jon Rauch or Francisco Liriano deserved all-star nods, but it's not shocking that they were not selected. Delmon Young is on the short-list of the last spot, if you want to vote for him, visit HERE.
Looking at the list of all-stars, there are some glaring omissions and some selections that defy reason. Here's one of the worst.
Pitcher A: (7-7) 3.69ERA 1.28WHIP 57Ks 39BBs
Pitcher B: (6-5) 3.01ERA 1.14WHIP 122Ks 40BBs
If I asked you which player was selected to the all-star game, you would say laugh and say that there is an obvious difference and select player B. Player A is Fausto Carmona and Player B is Felix Hernandez and Player A is going to the All-Star game while Hernandez is left out. I know every team has to have a player representative in the game, but why not give the selection to Shin Soo Choo, who is actually deserving but is injured, so that you can fulfill that requirement. Instead you've added a player who does not deserve the honor and someone like King Felix, who finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting last year (btw), gets no recognition.
Player A: .318/.418/.599 56Rs 59RBI 21HRs 169OPS+ (league leading) 173TB
Player B: .302/.333/.367 23Rs 22RBI 1HR 90OPS+ 62TB
Player A is Joey Votto, Player B is Omar Infante, the ladder was chosen to play in the All-Star game... as Jeff Passan wrote for Yahoo Sports, this has to be one of the WORST all-star selections of all-time. You can't even blame this one on the "every team has to have a player" rule. This is just a terrible selection and I feel as though baseball ought to rectify this situation by saying, "ok, we didn't realize how blind Charlie Manuel was, we're changing his selection." I mean, this one is such a no-brainer, it's almost infuriating. Joey Votto is so overwhelming deserving of an all-star appearance, how he was not chosen is beyond my understanding. His numbers are ridic, he's on a 1st place team, he has an insane on-base streak going, the dude's having a monster year. Fortunately he's on the ballot for the final spot on the NL team, and he should win.
Looking at the rest of the selections, they look pretty good. You have a lot of usual suspects in Lincecum, Sabathia, Jeter, Rodriguez, Pujols, and Han-Ram. There is some new flavor in David Price, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Jason Heyward, and Ubaldo Jimenez. I'm looking forward to the game and I'm a fan of the fact that it means something. I know that opinion isn't popular, but I like that the players and managers still have to care about the game itself. Couple of other thoughts:
* The entire starting lineup for the AL is made up of players from 5 teams (2 each from MN, TX, NY, TB) and Ichiro.
* "If he is able to play, Heyward would be the first non-Japanese rookie outfielder to start an All-Star Game since Minnesota's Tony Oliva in 1964." I read that on MLB.com, I have to say, that's a very odd-sounding stat. Do Japanese rookies not count?
* The Yankees and Cardinals are the only two teams with 2 starting pitchers in the All-Star game...I have to disagree with the selection of Phil Hughes though...again, where is the love for Felix Hernandez??
* This is A-Rod's 13th All-Star appearance, Derek Jeter's 11th, Ichiro's 10th, Vladimir Guerrero's 9th, Pujols 9th, Halladay's 7th, Scott Rolen's and David Ortiz' 6th, and Miguel Cabrera's 5th.