Paul Konerko

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


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.

NLDS, Game 1: Cubs vs. Cardinals lineups

Jon Lester
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Here are the Cubs and Cardinals lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
SS Addison Russell
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester

Jon Lester’s personal catcher David Ross takes the place of Miguel Montero behind the plate. Kris Bryant shifts back to third base after playing left field in Game 1, with Chris Coghlan coming off the bench to get a start in the outfield against a right-hander. Addison Russell bats seventh, which he did just 10 times during the regular season.

3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Randal Grichuk
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SP John Lackey

Mike Matheny’s lineup for Game 1 is an interesting one. Jason Heyward is batting cleanup and playing center field, where he started just eight games all season. Stephen Piscotty plays first base, where he started just nine games. Yadier Molina is behind the plate, toughing his way through a significant thumb injury that’s sidelined him since September 20 and leaves him at much less than 100 percent now. Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Jon Jay are all on the bench.

Steven Matz is on the Mets’ playoff roster, set for Game 4 start

New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) works during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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Rookie left-hander Steven Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24 because of a back injury, but he’s on the Mets’ playoff roster for the NLDS and looks likely to start Game 4 against the Dodgers.

Matz prepped for a potential start by throwing 80 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and apparently experienced no issues. Even setting aside the health question mark Matz has started just six games in the majors, but he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.

Matz is one of 11 pitchers on the NLDS roster, along with 14 position players. No big surprises.

ALDS, Game 2: Astros vs. Royals lineups

Johnny Cueto Royals
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Here are the Astros and Royals lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Kansas City:

2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro
CF Jake Marisnick

SP Scott Kazmir

Carlos Gomez remains out of the lineup with an intercostal injury, so Marisnick makes another start in center field after going 2-for-4 with standout defense in Game 1.

SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios

SP Johnny Cueto

Royals manager Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup as Game 1, which isn’t surprising given that he trotted out the same lineup for basically the entire postseason run last year. Cueto gets the ball after Yost chose Yordano Ventura for Game 1 duties.