Javier Vazquez has had a fantastic second half for the Marlins. So fantastic that I’ve used the “who is going to get suckered into signing him to a big contract” joke at least twice in the past two weeks. Three if you count that one. But Vazquez himself may very well have different ideas. According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Vazquez may very well pack it up and head home to Puerto Rico for a nice early retirement:
“Most of the players play until [someone] takes their uniforms off. For me, it’s not the way it should be. I love my family and I love my kids, and I want to be there with them. I want to see them growing up. And if I don’t, when I’m 50, I’m going to regret that, and I don’t want to regret that. I’ve seen it too many times.”
And then, for the line that coincided almost perfectly with an apparent dust storm here in my den, Vazquez mentioned that his children are “old enough to cry because I’m not there.”
The guy has made around $92 million in his career. He’s pitched some fantastic baseball for most of that time but is rarely appreciated for that as much as he has been for a couple short stretches when he didn’t. He loves his family and loves his kids. He wore a Montreal Expos jersey for a long time. If he truly wants to retire now, let no man say that he hasn’t earned the right to do it.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: