My “Imperfect” A.L. All Star Team …..

July 01, 2010 |

There is really no such thing as the PERFECT team, regardless of whether it’s of an All Star caliber or not. However, I do think it’s pretty easy to think of very formidable teams, especially when you’re afforded the luxury of selecting players from an inventory of more than a dozen squads.

I have no doubt Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel will be wrestling with some emotion, obligation, expectation and even POLITICS when selecting the reserve members of their respective All Star rosters.

They have friends in other organizations …..

They have their own players to consider rewarding …..

They have Bud Selig looking over their shoulders …..

But, what would it be like if the All Star managers were truly afforded the latitude of selecting the reserves by distinguishing those whom he feels give the team the very best chance of winning? Why is thIS primary consideration? Well, the game counts.

Bud Selig is hellbent on ensuring the victorious All Star squad secures homefield advantage for their respective league’s World Series representative.

Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel skippered their team’s to the 2009 fall classic. Heck, Manuel’s Phillies have appeared in the LAST TWO World Series. They’re also the same team that forfeited it’s defense of the World Championship on the Yankee Stadium turf, following Game 6, last year.

Why did 2009’s defending World Champions forsake homefield advantage to the Yankees? We know that answer – the American League won the 2009 All Star game.

On the heels of such a bitter defeat, I would think Manuel has every reason to want to win this upcoming All Star matchup. Girardi should harbor the same desire and motivation. So, would the rosters look different if the managers could select the players whom they believed to comprise the most dangerous of teams?

I think so.

That means beyond the players selected by the fans, the manager would get to choose 25 reserves, to comprise a total of 34 players. And, the STUPID rule of including at least one player from every team MUST be discarded for this process. It should be forgotten, anyway.

This isn’t Little league. You play to win the game. Just ask Herm Edwards …. and Bud Selig.

So, if I stood in Joe Girardi’s shoes and I really wanted to win the upcoming game, this is what my All Star roster would look like …..

ELECTED PLAYERS (voting thru July 1, 2010)

Catcher – Joe Mauer
1st Base – Justin Morneau
2nd Base – Robinson Cano
3rd Base – Evan Longoria
Shortstop – Derek Jeter
Outfield – Ichiro Suzuki, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton
DH – Vlad Guerrero

RESERVES (selected by manager)

Catcher – Victor Martinez, Mike Napoli

It’s a shame Matt Wieters is struggling, because Napoli really gets the noD by default. Jorge Posada is not healthy. Heck, Victor Martinez may not be healthy, either.

1st Base – Miguel Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis

Cabrera is the best of the bunch, including Morneau. And, Kevin Youkilis is a guy I want at the plate with the game on the line. His bush league antics and mannerisms are irritating, but he’s an OBP stud.

2nd Base – Ben Zobrist

Nobody else carries a likelihood of being a difference maker, especially with Pedroia on the DL. Cano and Zobrist would split the duties.

3rd Base – Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez

Obvious choices, huh? Forget Adrian Beltre’s .349 clip, I want A’Rod or Young at the plate.

Shortstop – Elvis Andrus, Erick Aybar

A more traditional run of shortstops, huh? All speed, no power. It’s not a very good year for this position. These guys could do damage on the basepaths.

Outfield – Shin Soo Choo, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, Brett Gardner, Nelson Cruz

I’m taking Choo, Rios and Markakis to play LF/CF/RF, respectively. In the second half of the game, I want guys playing their positions. Gardner is a fantastic spark plug and Cruz is a threat anytime he steps to the plate.

DH – Vernon Wells

I was torn between Wells and Billy Butler. But, I went with the power.

Starting Pitchers – Cliff Lee, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver, Francisco Liriano

Why these guys? While they throw hard and have an impressive haul of strikeouts, their success is equally attributed to having a great “out pitch,” beyond the fastball. I think all of them would baffle National League hitters …. and they’re having a GREAT season.

Relief Pitchers – Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz

In a word, NASTY. All three of them could nail down a perfect 9th against the heart of the NL order.

Well, there it is – all 34 players for my American League All Star Team. Now that I’m looking back at it, I’ve made some perculiar observations …..

* I’m taking at least one player from each A.L. team, except the Oakland A’s. That said, if a pitcher backed out, I would probably take Andrew Bailey.

* While Mark Teixeira would not make my team (over Cabrera and Youkilis), two of the players the Rangers acquired for him (Perez and Andrus) are on my squad.

* My roster would include NINE first-time All Stars.