Paul Konerko

All-snubs All-Star team led by Paul Konerko, Andrew McCutchen

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A lineup of shoulda-been All-Stars:

Catcher – Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks): The AL found room for three catchers, while the NL had just two.  It really should have been the other way around.  While it would have been just fine for the AL to leave either Russell Martin or Matt Wieters off the team, the NL had three deserving choices in Brian McCann, Yadier Molina and Montero.  Montero has hit .270/.344/.457 with nine homers and 40 RBI this season.  McCann and AL starter Alex Avila are the only catchers with more RBI.

First base – Paul Konerko (White Sox), Mark Teixeira (Yankees): Blame a system that’s gotten too structured; the AL had to take a second actual DH in Michael Young and still carry backups at every infield position.  If manager Ron Washington had a free hand to simply make Young the backup at second or even a utilityman, then there would have been room for Konerko. Even so, it’s rather absurd that the AL team is carrying three catchers, seven outfielders and just two (Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera) from a bumper crop of first basemen.  At least Konerko should win the Final Vote.

Second base – Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox): No big complaints here; only four second basemen were chosen and they were arguably the four most deserving in Robinson Cano and Howie Kendrick in the AL and Rickie Weeks and Brandon Phillips in the NL.  Pedroia, now that he’s found his stroke, certainly could have been taken over Kendrick.  However, as a result of Pedroia’s slow start, Kendrick does have the better OPS of the two by 40 points.

Third base – Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox): I was just happy to see Chipper Jones make it as an NL reserve, though the suddenly red hot Aramis Ramirez may have been more deserving.  Adrian Beltre was picked over Youkilis to back up Alex Rodriguez in the AL even though Youkilis has the better OPS by 100 points.  Still, Beltre is the superior defender and he was one of the AL’s 10-best players last year.

Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta (Tigers): If it were my call, the AL roster would have had three first basemen, three shortstops, two catchers and six outfielders.  Peralta, not Asdrubal Cabrera, has been the league’s best offensive shortstop, having hit .311/.359/.538 with 14 homers this season.  I’d still have taken Cabrera first because of his defense, but both deserved to go.

Outfield – Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Shane Victorino (Phillies), Alex Gordon (Royals): Now this might be the biggest All-Star mystery of all; the NL is carrying eight outfielders, only one of whom (Matt Kemp) actually plays center field.  McCautchen, who is hitting .289/.390/.493 with 12 homers and 15 stolen bases and is the best player on one of the game’s biggest surprises, didn’t even make the Final Vote ballot for some bizarre reason.  Victorino did.  He’s been just as productive as McCutchen, though in 14 fewer games.  Gordon, who is hitting .301/.368/.491, had a fair case on merit alone and should have been the Royals rep over reliever Aaron Crow.

Pitcher: CC Sabathia (Yankees), Tommy Hanson (Braves), Anibal Sanchez (Marlins), Michael Pineda (Mariners), Dan Haren (Angels), Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals), Francisco Cordero (Reds): Incredibly enough, I’m pretty much fine with the pitchers selected.  I don’t get why Ron Washington didn’t take Sabathia, who is due to pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game, and then just go ahead and replace him later.  That’s expected to happen with Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and James Shields, so Pineda and Haren still might make the team.  In the NL, Bruce Bochy’s selection of Ryan Vogelsong was controversial.  Vogelsong has been a terrific story, though, and I can’t say I’m too upset to see him go.

Danny Espinosa reportedly skipped Nationals Winterfest because of Adam Eaton

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Danny Espinosa #8 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after teammate Chris Heisey #14 (not pictured) hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.

A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.

Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.

Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.

Nick Cafardo: Red Sox should deal Pomeranz, not Buchholz

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.

The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.

Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.

Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.