Vote early, vote often … MLB's "Final Vote" is now live

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Yeah, this “Final Vote” stuff is mostly pretty annoying, but it’s the Fourth of July and only a scrooge would complain on a holiday that revolves around barbecue, beer and blowing stuff up.  Oh, and we have a full slate of baseball ahead.  Anyway, here are your candidates:

National League

RP Heath Bell
OF Carlos Gonzalez
1B Joey Votto
RP Billy Wagner
3B Ryan Zimmerman

American League

1B Paul Konerko
OF Nick Swisher
OF Delmon Young
3B Michael Young
1B Kevin Youkilis

You can log on to MLB.com or text “VOTE” to 1122 to select the 35th man on each All-Star roster.  If Votto doesn’t win it in the National League, Reds fans will have some explaining to do.  Come on,  Cincy!

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.