Bryce Harper has to be considered the favorite to win the NL Final Vote for the last spot on the All-Star team, but he said after Sunday’s game that, “I’d vote for Chipper.”
Harper and Chipper Jones are in the mix along with Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill and David Freese in the Final Vote, but really, it figures to be a two-man race. In typical buddy-cop-movie fashion, it’s the brash, young rookie versus the weary veteran a few months away from retirement.
Ideally, there’d be room for both, and if Matt Kemp is forced to skip the game with his hamstring injury, as seems likely, perhaps there will be. Harper, though, thinks Chipper should go to one last game at age 40. Jones has been to seven All-Star Games, including last year’s. At .292/.375/.455, he’s been plenty productive this year, though he’s played in just 44 games. Harper is hitting .274/.348/.471 in 57 games.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.