As I lamented last week, the All-Star Game counts now. It shouldn’t given how much a of a circus it is from a purely competitive baseball standpoint, but it does count. And today is the tenth anniversary of the thing that led to this state of affairs: the ugly 2002 All-Star Game which ended in a tie when each side ran out of players.
Chris Jaffe has a remembrance of that over at The Hardball Times today. It just warms my heart to recall a game reaching the end of regulation play with only Vicente Padilla and Freddy Garcia available and hitters like Jose Hernandez and Tony Batista taking the key at bats. Star power, baby.
The thing about it: Bud Selig’s solution of making the All-Star Game count for home field advantage has done little to change the approach of the All-Star Game managers. Sure, there are now safeties in place to ensure that teams can reuse position players and hold pitchers in reserve, but the underlying dynamic which led to the trouble — managers trying to give everyone playing time and all the truly great players being showered and gone by the time the game reaches the late innings — still reigns.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.