Your National League All-Star vote leaders


2010 All-Star Game.JPGWe did this yesterday for the American League, so now it’s the senior circuit’s turn.  Your NL All-Star ballot leaders to date:

C: Yadier Molina
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Placido Polanco
SS: Jimmy Rollins
OF: Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino

Yeah, Phillies fans are stuffing the ballot box. Whatever. This is what happens when you leave democracy to the people. Nothing will change in this regard until everyone comes to their senses and installs me as Benevolent Dictator.

Of course not all of these choices are bad.  Pujols is Pujols (though more on him below), Chase Utley is by far the best second baseman in the league, and Jayson Werth is more than worthy to start for the NL All-Stars. But if we were going purely on early-season performance — which, as I noted yesterday is my personal preference even though I realize that reasonable people may disagree — we’d have a different setup:

  • For the first time in forever you have an argument that someone besides Pujols deserves first base. His name is Joey Votto and he currently has an OPS a mere .013 behind El Hombre.  No, I don’t think that will last all year or that he’s close to being as good as Pujols is, but Votto at deserves to at least have his name mentioned. Lucky that the fans don’t get to pick backups. Instead of Votto we’d get Rico Brogna or Ricky Jordan or someone.
  • Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco are beyond lame picks and even the Phillies fans who wrote their names down know it. One has hardly played and the other is currently 10th at OPS in the NL at his position.  How about Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman instead? If attitude bugs you, swap out Tulowitzki or Stephen Drew instead.
  • There aren’t a ton of great choices at catcher in the National League. Brian McCann is having a hot and cold year, currently at cold, and the NL’s best hitting catcher — Ryan Doumit — is a defensive disaster. When in doubt go Molina? Sure, why not. Yadier is great on defense even if he’s not hitting a lick so maybe that should be recognized.
  • My first impulse was to give the fans the benefit of the doubt on leaving Andre Ethier out of the top three due to his injury, but given the Polanco and Rollins picks it’s possible that they’re not even watching baseball this year, let alone discounting for lost playing time. Alfonso Soriano has apparently gone from no one realizing how bad he had gotten to no one realizing how good a season he’s having. And c’mon: don’t we have room for Jason Heyward?  He’s a modern day Chris Sabo!  Or am I the only one who remembers the 1988 All-Star game?

Oh well. Like I said yesterday: it’s an exhibition and not a competition. At least not anymore, so let us not get too bent out of shape about it, mmm-kay?

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.