Fixing the All-Star Game: A Battle of the Ages

This is a guest post from RAB Shop extraordinaire Tyler Wilkinson. So read it, then go buy something.

Baseball’s mid-summer classic, once an avenue for die-hard fans to catch a glimpse of cross-country superstars, has descended into a watered down exhibition featuring all of the players we watch every night on MLB.tv and every morning on Sportscenter. With the appeal fading, several years ago Commissioner Bud Selig took the radical step of turning this meaningless event into the deciding factor for home-field advantage in the World Series. Yes, crazy. Believe it or not, the possibility of Aaron Crow influencing home-field advantage hasn’t yielded the results Selig was looking for. With that in mind, I have an unrealistic crackpot idea to drive up interest.

A battle for of the ages.

Problem 1, the rosters are too damn big. Peace out Aaron Crow. Royals, you want an All-Star, trade Hosmer and Moose Tacos to the Yankees for A-Rod. Picking on Aaron Crow is fun. Kidding aside, trying to include a member of every squad is diluting the talent pool and lessening the experience. Solution: 25 man rosters. Done.

Problem 2, Joe Buck & Tim McCarver. Do the right thing, Fox.

Problem 3, people aren’t tuning in to watch AL vs. NL anymore. We need a twist. How about a battle of old vs. new? Jeter vs. Cano? Lester vs. Gonzalez? Good vs. Good? Evil vs. Evil? Taking this year’s injury-riddled lineups and splitting them into the 25 youngest players I find interesting and the 25 oldest players I find interesting, let’s see how the rosters fill out.

Young Punks

C:  McCann
1B: Fielder
2B: Cano
3B: Sandoval
SS: Reyes (we’ll roll with the fan vote)
OF: Braun
OF: Kemp
OF: Upton
DH: Votto

SP: Lincecum
SP: Hernandez (F-Her, don’t forget to spread the nickname)
SP: Lester
SP: Price
SP: Hamels
RP: Weaver
RP: Cain
RP: Kershaw
RP: Pineda
RP: Jurrjens
CL: Robertson (shut up, it’s my list!)

BN: Avila
BN: McCutchen
BN: Tulowitzki
BN: Martin (3 catchers to swap out in the ASG seems reasonable)
BN: Bruce

Thoughts: Relievers not named Mo probably don’t belong in the ASG, apologies to Aaron Crow. That is a ridiculous pitching staff. I hope Lester hits Youkilis in his ugly ribs.

Old Geezers

C: Molina (I double checked. It’s not Gustavo)
1B: Gonzalez, Ad.
2B: Phillips
3B: Rodriguez
SS: Jeter
OF: Bautista
OF: Granderson
OF: Hamilton
DH: Holliday

SP: Halladay
SP: Sabathia
SP: Lee
SP: Verlander (the youngest of the old geezers & the exact middle point)
SP: Beckett
RP: Shields
RP: Wilson, Brian (have to break the no relievers rule)
RP: Valverde (and again, gross)
RP: Bell  (and again)
RP: Wilson, CJ
CL:  Rivera (forever and ever)

BN: Montero, Mig.
BN: Beltran
BN: Berkman
BN: Kendrick (someone’s gotta backup the middle infield)
BN: Youkilis (gross)

Thoughts: While the youngsters have a ridiculous pitching staff, the old folks have some big guns of their own up front with a familiar face closing it down. There’s a lot of pop in the old guys’ lineup.

While not perfect (Valverde survived the cut), I still believe the new format would increase interest. Baseball would have an avenue to market their phenomenal young stars to a national audience and the fat of the current system would be trimmed right off.  Plus, the novelty of seeing a Reyes/Cano double play combo is probably more appealing than the standard AL/NL lineups that people have grown accustomed to.  The one thing I think we can all agree on is that home-field advantage being decided in an exhibition game three months before the World Series is ridiculous and unnecessary.  While a radical alteration like the one I proposed is unrealistic, correcting home-field advantage is a simple step that needs to be fixed yesterday. That and Joe Buck.

Sabathia stops the losing streak, Yanks beat Jays 4-1

LOL Jays.

It had been almost a week since the Yankees last won a game, though the All-Star break makes that sound worse than it is. After losing two games in a row, the Yankees had the right man on the mound to … put it on the left side!

  • CC Sabathia‘s 23.2 IP scoreless streak ended in the very first inning thanks to a walk, a stolen base, and a single, but that was all the Blue Jays got. The big guy struck out eight in eight innings, walked three and allowed just three hits. He threw 110 pitches and got 14 swings and misses, his fifth highest total of the season. Over his last five starts, CC has struck out 50 and walked just nine in 39.2 IP. He’s quite good, you know.
  • The Yankees got all the runs they would need in the second inning, when Andruw Jones singled in Nick Swisher and Eduardo Nunez drove in Brett Gardner with a ground out. They chipped in another run in the third when the Jays botched a run down (they had Robinson Cano caught between first and second, but Curtis Granderson broke for home from third with two outs and Toronto threw the ball away), and a Derek Jeter infield single plated the fourth run in the fourth.
  • Brett Gardner had three hits (including two doubles) in four trips to the plate and is 7-for-12 with three doubles in the series. Jeter singled twice, Granderson singled and walked, Mark Teixeira singled, Cano singled and walked, Swisher doubled over the center fielder’s head, Andruw singled, and Frankie Cervelli walked. Eduardo Nunez was the only Yankee not to reach base, though he did lay down a bunt that eventually led to the run down mishap. Cervelli and Gardner each stole bases.
  • Mariano Rivera allowed two bloop singles in the ninth but was otherwise his normal self, striking out two. He did have to throw 28 pitches though (23 for strikes), which might be an issue if the Yankees have a late lead the next few games. It was a pretty standard win, Sabathia dominated, the offense scratched out some runs, and Mo slammed the door. That’s the story right there. Here’s the box score and WPA Graph.

The final game of this four-game series will be played Sunday afternoon. Phil Hughes will make his second start off the disabled list against Carlos Villanueva. I’m kind sick of Toronto, time to get out of there.

A loss at (almost) every level

Tyler Austin has been promoted to Short Season Staten Island. Mason Williams kinda sorta broke the news on Twitter, and the team roster confirms it. The Yankees weren’t messing around, he dominated rookie ball and they bumped him up to give him a challenge. Meanwhile, a Mets scout is making a special trip to Trenton this weekend. Dun dun dun.

As for some injury news, Mark Prior was scratched from his scheduled appearance today. For shame. Bradley Suttle is day-to-day with some arm stiffness.

Triple-A Scranton (7-4 loss to Toledo)
Kevin Russo, LF & Doug Bernier, SS: both 0 for 3 – Russo walked twice and struck ut … Bernier got hit by a pitch and struck out twice
Austin Krum, CF & Terry Tiffee, DH: both 2 for 5 – Krum drove in a run and struck out … Tiffee doubled and scored twice
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) – 106 strikeouts in 75 games
Brandon Laird, 2B & Jordan Parraz, RF: both 1 for 4, 1 2B – Laird drove in two and whiffed … Parraz plated a run
Luis Nunez, 2B: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 HBP
Pants Lendleton, RHP: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2-6 GB/FB – exactly half of his 86 pitches were strikes
George Kontos, RHP: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 4-2 GB/FB – 34 of 52 pitches were strikes (65.4%) … that won’t help his chances of a call-up
J.C. Romero, LHP: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3-0 GB/FB - ten of 13 pitches were strikes … picked a runner off second

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Curtis Granderson on ESPN’s E:60

Curtis Granderson will be featured on ESPN’s E:60 this coming Tuesday, a piece that looks at his relationship with the family of Brian Bluhm. Bluhm was killed in the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, but he was a lifelong Tigers’ fan and one of Grandy’s biggest fans. He was a pretty active member of the online baseball community as well, doing most of his commenting over at John Sickel’s Minor League Ball. The E:60 feature will air Tuesday at 7pm ET on ESPN. That’s the trailer above.

Here’s your open thread for the night. MLB Network is airing a game, though the teams depend on where you live. Talk about whatever you want here.

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Soriano to begin rehab assignment on Tuesday

Via Chad Jennings, Rafael Soriano will begin a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday, most likely with High-A Tampa. He threw 25 or so pitches in a live batting practice session today and everything went fine.  The Yankees want Soriano to pitch in back-to-back days before activating him, but rehab assignments for relievers are a formality more than anything else. If all goes well, figure he’ll be back in two weeks.