Some Braves players think the All-Star voting process is unfair

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Only one Braves player made the All-Star team and that was because the manager put him on there. As far as fan voting goes? They didn’t do so good.

Dave O’Brien of the AJC talked to a bunch of them yesterday and many voiced their displeasure at fan voting. Both in the main selection process and the “Final Vote” which is putting Freddie Freeman against Yasiel Puig. And they think the media — specifically ESPN — has an agenda to get more media-friendly players selected. Guys like Yasiel Puig.

Tim Hudson pretty much covers it all:

“I think it’s B.S. … I mean, it’s pretty obvious what players certain media outlets want to have plugged in. It’s pretty obvious. You have young, exciting players – and they are that. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to have the opportunity to be in there, but these guys that are competing with them to get these last couple of spots, they’re just as deserving. It’s not fair. The whole fan vote thing, I think is obnoxious. I mean, the starting players in the All-Star game are determined by fans who can plug any players they want in there, and it determines home-field advantage for the World Series. The World Series!

“It’s not fair. At all.”

Seriously, Tim. Tell me if you think it’s fair.

He has a point (which he goes on to explain in greater detail) about how, if the World Series hinges on the All-Star game, there shouldn’t be a fan vote. Problem is, I’m willing to bet $100 that if a Braves player was the media sensation du jour a la Puig — let’s say a pre-injury Evan Gattis — Hudson wouldn’t be complaining too much.

It’s a flawed process, yes, but most of the complaining you hear about it is just tribalism and homerism. Our guy deserves it, theirs doesn’t. If the fans vote for us it’s an honor, if they vote for the other guys it’s illegitimate. Here it’s the Braves doing it. I’ve seen other teams do it every year since I’ve been paying attention.

It stinks that the All-Star Game decides home field advantage. But really, it’s just for fun. I’d rather see some hyped kid like Puig in it over someone else, frankly, because Puig is interesting and the game doesn’t matter otherwise. And if I’m Hudson, I’d be quietly pleased that my teammates were getting three days off to relax and get healthy.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.