Fans reject Manny and A-Rod for the right reasons

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There are all kinds of interesting angles to take on the All-Star
rosters that were announced yesterday, and we’ll certainly be getting
to those over the coming days. One of the ones I don’t
think anyone here at CTB would be inclined to take, however, is how the
failure of Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez to make the All-Star team
represented an anti-PED statement by the voters. That doesn’t stop MLB.com’s Mike Bauman, however:

A record 223.5 million votes were cast for the 2009 All-Star Game
selections. Without pandering to the audience, this process had both
quantity and quality. And it was notable not only for which players the
fans elected, but which players the fans did NOT elect . . . In the
latter category, the most prominent names would be Manny Ramirez and
Alex Rodriguez. Both were linked this year to performance-enhancing
drugs. Rodriguez was forced to admit his usage of PEDs . . . The voters
are to be congratulated for not turning a blind eye to these offenses .
. . By omitting this pair, the fans and the players have essentially
taken a stand against the use of PEDs.

That’s one way to think about it. The other way to think about it is to
say that the voters have not turned a blind eye to the fact that Evan
Longoria is a heck of a lot more deserving than a guy who has hit .244
in limited play and that Ryan Braun, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Beltran
(and Matt Kemp and a bunch of other guys) are all more deserving than a
guy who has played in only 35% of his team’s games this season.

Sure, the fans rejecting the cheaters en masse makes for a
nice story and everything, but it’s not like keeping Manny and A-Rod
out of the All-Star game requires some political statement. Neither is
deserving on the merits and neither made it. Given that, with the large
exception of Josh Hamilton, the fans did a pretty good job with the
votes, I’d offer that their exclusion was a baseball judgment, not a
political one.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.