“You love me! You really love me!”
Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Steve Delabar of the Toronto Blue Jays were chosen by fans as the winners of the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote.
I gotta say, I’m rather shocked at the NL result. I woulda thought that Yasiel PuigMania would have carried the day. And that if it didn’t, someone at Major League Baseball would turn this into some Soviet-era election in which the glorious voice of the proletariat cried out for Puig to win despite the longest of odds or something. Guess not.
Not that we should take too much from this. The voting procedures for this were even more gonzo than the regular All-Star voting, with Twitter hashtags counting as votes in the final hours before the polls closed. That, combined with open campaigning made this something less than a scientific referendum.
But it may be a broad referendum on what people want the All-Star Game to be. I feel like a Puig vote is a vote for the All-Star Game as spectacle and excitement and what people may want to see, regardless of some measure of merit. I feel like a Freeman vote is one in which people look at overall value (and Freeman, having played all year has added more aggregate value to the Braves than Puig has to the Dodgers) and decided to reward a greater body of work over a big splash. Maybe this voting is even too silly to determine that. I don’t know.
But I do know that, barring Puig as an injury replacement in the days leading up to the All-Star game, he’s going to be sitting at home and watching on TV. And Jonathan Papelbon will be happy.
As for Delabar: relief pitcher beats out other relief pitchers and it’s hard for me to work up much emotion of any kind about that. But at least this relief pitcher has a great story, so that’s nice.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.