The 2014 All-Star Game Preview

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The salad is finished. Bring on the steak.

We have spent 48 hours looking at the Future, watching a sideshow and gazing at baseball’s navel. Now that that is over the All-Star Game itself is at hand. And, no matter what you think of it, the fact that it is the only baseball game around makes it worth your time.

The starting pitchers and starting lineups are set. Here’s the order A.L. starter Felix Hernandez will face to start things off:

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Yasiel Puig
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Paul Goldschmidt
DH Giancarlo Stanton
3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Chase Utley
Jonathan Lucroy
LF Carlos Gomez

And the hometown nine, technically speaking anyway, which will do battle with N.L. starter Adam Wainwright:

AMERICAN LEAGUE:
SS Derek Jeter
LF Mike Trout
2B Robinson Cano
1B Miguel Cabrera
RF Jose Bautista
DH Nelson Cruz
CF Adam Jones
3B Josh Donaldson
Salvador Perez

The National League seems to have the stronger set of starters on paper. It’s certainly no walkover, but the outfield defense is unusually strong here, and that could make a big difference.

Of course, the starters may have the lease amount of impact on this game. Given how All-Star managers have taken to trying to get every player on the roster into the game at some point, bench players and relievers are going to play a large part in how this All-Star Game goes.

But make no mistake: no matter what happens on the field, the star of tonight’s show is going to be Derek Jeter. He’ll lead off to a huge amount of applause and he’ll be paid multiple tributes both at the ballpark and on the Fox broadcast. If he does anything notable — say, hit a homer in his final All-Star Game like Cal Ripken did several years ago, Katie bar the door.

Yes, it’s an exhibition, but it’s one with a great pedigree. And one, as the name promises, that is loaded with stars. It’s easy to get cynical about a lot in this world, but if you’re cynical about the All-Star Game, well, I feel kinda bad for you.

Braves expected to lose as many as 12 prospects as a result of international signing violations

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UPDATE: Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Braves are expected to lose as many as 12 players as a result of the sanctions, plus they’ll suffer significant restrictions on international signings for the next four years, plus they will lose a draft pick in next year’s draft.

2:46PM: Major League Baseball is expected to announce its sanctions against the Atlanta Braves for their international signing violations as early as this afternoon. Earlier today a handful of reports came out suggesting what at least part of those penalties will entail. Think multiple prospects signed in the last year or two.

Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that shortstop Kevin Maitan, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, second baseman Yunior Severino and righthander Juan Contreras — the Braves top four international signees of 2016 — will all become restricted free agents, but it is not clear what the restrictions will be. Maitan, it should be noted, was the number one ranked international prospect in all of baseball last year. Severino was the eighth-ranked, Gutierrez the 15th-ranked and Conrearas the 41st-ranked.

In addition to losing prospects, there will likewise be financial penalties and, most likely, future signing restrictions. The severity of these penalties suggest that, whatever the specifics of the violations MLB has found to have been committed by the Braves, they are unprecedented in scope and severity.