We’re doing it wrong: 2011 All-Star Game preview

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Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is supposed to be a grand spectacle, a chance for baseball fans to see all of the sport’s current greats in one stadium on the same night. And it is that.

But a rule made official in 2003 now dictates that the winner of the Midsummer Classic is awarded home field advantage in the World Series — the chance to host four games of a potential seven-game series.

Major League Baseball wants the outcome of the All-Star Game to matter in order to boost interest and competitiveness (and, thus, television ratings), so we’re forced to take this all way too seriously.

(If taking it “too seriously” involves half-hearted and mostly blind analysis).

Our guess at the starting lineups:

American League

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Adrian Gonzalez
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Jose Bautista
DH David Ortiz
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Alex Avila

Bench

C Matt Wieters
C Russell Martin
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Howie Kendrick
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
OF Carlos Quentin
OF Michael Cuddyer
OF Matt Joyce
DH Michael Young

National League

SS Jose Reyes
CF Matt Kemp
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
DH Joey Votto
RF Lance Berkman
C Brian McCann
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Placido Polanco

Bench

C Yadier Molina
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Brandon Phillips
3B Chipper Jones
SS Starlin Castro
SS Troy Tulowitzki
OF Justin Upton
OF Hunter Pence
OF Jay Bruce
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Matt Holliday

Both lineups are stacked with power and a nice dose of speed. Jeter is no longer an All-Star caliber player, but neither is Polanco and there’s plenty of danger in the heart of each order to make up for those minor holes. Plus, these starting lineups won’t remain intact beyond the third inning with crowded and talented benches on both sides. The offensive production is going to be a toss-up, especially at Chase Field where home runs fly often. Both clubhouses boast superb power-hitting. The only reason we might favor the National League lineup is because Jeter seems likely to be the sentimental pick at leadoff for American League skipper Ron Washington, and Reyes-Kemp-Braun functions a little better than Jeter-Granderson-Gonzalez.

To the pitching staffs:

American League

SP Justin Verlander
SP Felix Hernandez
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Josh Beckett
SP David Price
SP James Shields
SP Jered Weaver
SP C.J. Wilson
RP Chris Perez
RP Jose Valverde
RP Aaron Crow
RP Mariano Rivera
RP Brandon League

National League

SP Roy Halladay
SP Clayton Kershaw
SP Cole Hamels
SP Tim Lincecum
SP Jair Jurrjens
SP Matt Cain
SP Cliff Lee
SP Ryan Vogelsong
RP Jonny Venters
RP Joel Hanrahan
RP Heath Bell
RP Tyler Clippard
RP Brian Wilson

We’ll get a better idea later this week as to which pitchers are actually going to be available for the All-Star Game. For now, we’re left only to analyze the staffs as a whole. With Verlander, King Felix, Beckett, Price, Weaver, Shields and Gonzalez, the American League boasts the better rotation arms. All eight starters, including Wilson, have the ability to dominate opponents deep into games. The National League has a trio of excellent Phillies, two young studs in Kershaw and Jurrjens, and a wild card in Lincecum, whose delivery can be awfully tricky for batters who are unfamiliar, but manager Bruce Bochy’s selfish decision to choose Cain and Vogelsong over guys like Tommy Hanson and Anibal Sanchez might be the kicker in the end. Then again, you have to wonder what might happen if the American League is forced to rely on someone like Crow in the later innings. The National League would seem to have a better crop of bullpen arms.

This analysis, of course, is arbitrary. Baseball is a sport played across 162 games, where small sample sizes mean little and any squad has a shot on a given day. The worst team in baseball each season still wins 50 games. It’s going to come down to individual performances. Will Granderson go yard? Will Reyes steal a bunch of bases? Are Joe Buck and Tim McCarver actually gonna provide some enthusiasm?

See you in Phoenix.

Indians sign Melvin Upton Jr. to a minor league deal

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The Cleveland Indians have agreed to a minor league deal with outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr.

Upton, 33, battled a torn thumb ligament and a shoulder issue last season, limiting him to only 12 games with Triple-A Sacramento, the Giants’ affiliate. In those 12 games, he hit .244 with one double and one home run. Upton last played in the majors in 2016 with the Padres and Blue Jays with which he posted an aggregate .693 OPS.

Given the injuries suffered by Indians outfielders in the past couple of seasons it can’t hurt to have some options for organizational depth. If he has anything left in the tank, stash him on the bench or down in Columbus. If not, no harm done.