Projecting the AL All-Star roster

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Following yesterday’s attempt at the guessing the NL roster, here’s a preview of the potential AL All-Star roster.


Starter: Joe Mauer
Backups: Victor Martinez

Martinez is listed as a catcher on the ballot, so he’s the obvious
choice to back up Mauer. If the AL goes with three catchers, then Jason
Varitek and Mike Napoli would enter the mix. It wouldn’t surprise me to
see Varitek end up as the 32nd player on the team by virtue of the Fan

First basemen

Starter: Kevin Youkilis
Backups: Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira

Youkilis currently has 600k votes to 506k for Teixeira and 483k for
Morneau. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Pena are also awfully deserving, but
there’s only going to be room for three with the game in an NL park and
no DH available.

Second basemen

Starter: Ian Kinsler
Backup: Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia

Kinsler currently has a 146,000-vote lead on last year’s AL MVP.
Pedroia isn’t playing quite as well now as he did last year, but he
still deserves to go. I’m guessing three second basemen will be carried
at the expense of a third shortstop. If not, then perhaps Pedroia will
win the Fan Vote.

Third basemen

Starter: Evan Longoria
Backup: Brandon Inge

I’d actually be in favor of carrying just the one third baseman and
letting Longoria play the whole game if it meant that Cabrera would
make the team. Actually, the best-case scenario would have Morneau
overtaking Youkilis at first, so Youkilis could replace Longoria at
third during the contest.

Of course, there will be an actual backup at third. Inge, Mike Lowell
and Michael Young all look like rather equivalent candidates, and Mark
DeRosa could be the token Indian if Victor Martinez somehow gets passed
over. I don’t think Alex Rodriguez will be rewarded with a spot.


Starter: Derek Jeter
Backup: Jason Bartlett

Jeter is just behind Longoria for the overall lead in votes. Both
Bartlett and Marco Scutaro have built really strong cases for making
the team, but I think there’s only room for one. Bartlett would seem to
have the edge unless he spends more time than expected on the disabled


Starters: Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki
Backups: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Adam Jones, Johnny Damon

Ichiro has 28,000 votes on Ken Griffey Jr. and 41,000 on Crawford
for the third outfield spot. It’d be quite a surprise if he’s
overtaken, especially with the way he’s heating up.

Jones gets the nod over Nick Markakis as the token Oriole. Nelson
Cruz and Jermaine Dye look like the top alternates now, though Curtis
Granderson would still be a possibility if he keeps hitting homers.


Starters: Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Edwin Jackson, Joe Saunders
Relievers: Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Frank Francisco, Andrew Bailey, Joe Nathan, Scott Downs

Greinke and Halladay should be definites, but the rest of the
pitchers will partly depend on who works the Sunday before the game and
who doesn’t. I expect that either Buehrle or Bobby Jenks will go as the
lone member of the White Sox, though Dye would be an option in the
outfield. Andrew Bailey makes sense as the only Athletic.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero
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Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.

Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton was let go because he was “too negative”

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We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”

Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.

“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”

After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.

So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).

He said the question was met with silence by both executives.

“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.

Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.

To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.

Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?