Projecting the 2010 NL All-Star team

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With voting close at several positions, there aren’t as many sure bets for the NL All-Star team as the AL squad. That’ll make things a bit more challenging today. Still, I’m going to give projecting the 21 hitters and 13 pitchers a try.
Catcher
Locks: none
Possibilities: Yadier Molina, Brian McCann, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Ruiz
Molina currently leads McCann in the fan balloting by about 120,000 votes. The best bet is that both go as the NL’s two catchers, but they are having down seasons. The NL’s top three catchers by OPS are Olivo, Geovany Soto and Nick Hundley. Barajas, with 11 homers and 30 RBI, has been the No. 1 run producer. Pudge is tops with a .316 average. I’m listing Ruiz because NL manager Charlie Manuel might go that route if he’s given a choice. There just aren’t any standouts here.
First base
Lock: Albert Pujols
Possibilities: Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Glaus, Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff, Ryan Howard
The NL has five first basemen with OPSs over 900: Pujols (974), Votto (969), Gonzalez (961), Huff (949), and Dunn (929). Still, it remains to be seen how many of those guys will get the call when Glaus and Howard will have plenty of support themselves. Glaus leads the NL with 55 RBI, and Howard isn’t far behind at 51. Fortunately, with the DH spot available, at least four first basemen figure to make the team.
Second base
Lock: Chase Utley
Possibilities: Martin Prado, Kelly Johnson, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips
All five second basemen listed here have OPSs between 837 and 874. I think Prado is a pretty sure thing to go as Utley’s backup, given his .339 average. Johnson also has a shot, particularly since no other Diamondback stands out.
Third base
Locks: none
Possibilities: Placido Polanco, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Rolen, Mark Reynolds, Casey McGehee
Polanco currently has a 130,000-vote lead over Wright in the fan balloting. Zimmerman and Rolen have been the NL’s best third basemen this season, but it’s possible neither will get to go if Polanco’s lead holds up.
Shortstop
Lock: Hanley Ramirez
Possibilities: Troy Tulowitzki*, Juan Uribe, Jose Reyes, Stephen Drew
It seemed like a given that Hanley and Tulo would be the NL’s shortstops, but Tulo’s broken wrist changed that in a hurry. Perhaps he’ll still be named to the squad and replaced. Uribe is the obvious candidate to fill in, even though he’s hardly a legitimate defensive shortstop these days. Behind Tulo at 877, Hanley at 862 and Uribe at 834, the next highest OPS for an NL shortstop belongs to Drew at 766.
Outfield
Locks: Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward, Andre Ethier
Possibilites: Andrew McCutchen, Corey Hart, Jayson Werth, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Shane Victorino, Josh Willingham, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, Jonny Gomes, Chris Young, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Ludwick, Hunter Pence
Fourth-place outfielder Werth is 380,000 votes back of Ethier in the fan balloting, so it’s safe to assume the starting outfield is set.
I think McCutchen is nearly a lock as well. At .315/.392/.479 with 18 steals, he’s the obvious choice to represent the Pirates.
Hart, as the NL home run leader, looks like a strong bet to claim a spot. If Manuel has his way, it’s safe to assume that at least one from the Werth-Victorino duo will go. Werth is more deserving, but a true second center fielder would be nice. I’d like to see Rasmus get the nod for that spot. Young, as the potential lone Diamondback, is another option.
Pitcher
SP possibilities: Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Lincecum, Jaime Garcia, Yovani Gallardo, Livan Hernandez, Chris Carpenter, Mike Leake, Carlos Silva, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Oswalt, Tommy Hanson, Stephen Strasburg
RP possibilities: Jonathan Broxton, Billy Wagner, Matt Capps, Carlos Marmol, Brian Wilson, Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Lindstrom, Ryan Franklin, Leo Nunez, Luke Gregerson, Arthur Rhodes, Tyler Clippard
It’s impossible to project the pitching staff without knowing who is starting the Sunday before the game, but Jimenez, Johnson, Wainwright and Halladay seem like sure things, even if one or two end up being replaced on the roster.
Personally, I’m against the idea of Strasburg going and taking a spot away from someone who has earned it over the course of the season. And while they’ll never say it publically, I can’t imagine the Nationals are thrilled by the idea either.
In the bullpen, Broxton and Wagner seem like sure things and Marmol might go as the lone Cub. The choices for the lone Astro come down to Oswalt, Lindstrom and Pence. It figures that one of the pitchers will go.
The 2010 NL All-Stars
Lineup

SS Hanley Ramirez
2B Chase Utley
1B Albert Pujols
RF Andre Ethier
LF Ryan Braun
DH Adrian Gonzalez
3B David Wright
CF Jason Heyward
C Yadier Molina
Reserves
C Brian McCann
1B Joey Votto
1B Troy Glaus
1B Ryan Howard
2B Martin Prado
3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Scott Rolen
SS Troy Tulowitzki*
SS Juan Uribe
OF Corey Hart
OF Andrew McCutchen
OF Jayson Werth
OF Chris Young
Pitchers
Ubaldo Jimenez
Josh Johnson
Adam Wainwright
Roy Halladay
Matt Cain
Roy Oswalt
Tim Lincecum
Mike Pelfrey
Jonathan Broxton
Billy Wagner
Carlos Marmol
Brian Wilson
Heath Bell

Must-Click Link: The Turbulent Final Year of Yordano Ventura’s Life

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals reacts in the sixth inning while taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in game six of the 2015 MLB American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 23, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.

It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.

Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.