October 21, 2014

Ethier, Broxton Named MLB All-Stars

It’s official!  Andre Ethier was elected as a starting outfielder for the 2010 National League All-Star Squad, and Jonathan Broxton was named to the pitching staff by skipper Charlie Manuel.

Dylan Hernandez, the erstwhile beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, caught up with Ethier:

“It’s something I never imagined would happen,” Ethier said. “You fight to try to get here to the major leagues. You get here and to be singled out by the fans as one of the top outfielders is certainly something special.”

The road to the All-Star nod hasn’t been easy for Ethier.  Although he’s batting .320 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI, he’s struggled significantly since coming off the DL with a pinkie injury suffered during batting practice.  Still, the honor was certainly deserved, and it’s nice to see baseball fans across the country honor the Dodgers’ young hitter. 

Jonathan Broxton also arrives at the All-Star game after a recent tough go of things.  Although the two-time All-Star has a 3-0 record with 17 saves and a 2.02 ERA (to go along with 52 strikeouts with just seven walks), he did face some tough innings against the Yankees and the Diamondbacks over the past 1o days.  That said, Broxton is the key to the Dodgers’ bullpen and any struggles are simply a blip on his stellar season.

And while a case could be made for either Rafael Furcal or Hong-Chih Kuo making the team, the worst All-Star snub in my opinion goes to Joey Votto, the first baseman of the Cincinnati Reds.  He’s only hitting .312 with 19 HR and 57 RBI.  The problem is that Votto’s competition, Ryan Howard, plays for the same Phillies manager that picks the reserves, and he went with his guy.  I get it, that’s the way the game is played.  Managers often pick “their guys” and bigger names traditionally win out over regular players like Joey Votto.  That’s who the fans want, right?

My problem is when this happens to a guy who is leading his team this year and is actually a legitimate MVP candidate for the first half of the season.  Those guys deserve to be named All-Stars, and it’s a crime when they don’t get the chance.  I’m no fan of the Cincinnati Reds, but this is just wrong. 

Here’s a little more on the Joey Votto situation from SI.com’s Joe Posnanski:

We’ll have more about the Reds’ Joey Votto in a minute… but the truth basically seems to be that he was left off the list for Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard. Now, THIS YEAR that’s ludicrous. Votto hasn’t just been better than Ryan Howard in every single way possible — but he’s been A LOT better in every single way possible. His on-base percentage is 61 points better, his slugging percentage is 68 points better, his OPS+ is 35 points better, his defense at first base has been about three or four grades better, even his TEAM has been better, which isn’t necessarily relevant to the conversation but certainly can’t hurt the guy.

So, comparing half-season to half-season, this is no contest, Votto is a slam-dunk, no-doubt choice over Howard. But is that really what the All-Star Game is about? You might think so. I might think so. But someone else might think, no, the All-Star Game is about having the biggest stars perform in front of the fans. And over the last five years, Ryan Howard has been a much bigger star than Joey Votto — he has won an MVP and finished second in another year, he has hit more home runs than any player in baseball, he has led the league in RBIs three times, and he has been a central figure in the Phillies’ renaissance. Fan voting is obviously a flawed way of looking at things, but it is true that 500,000 more people voted for Howard than Votto.

Fortunately, fans still have a chance to right this wrong (along with a few others) by taking advantage of the All-Star Final Vote.  Until 1:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, fans can vote on the final addition to each team’s roster.  Hopefully Votto will get what he deserves and will join Ethier and Broxton on the field in Anaheim for the 2010 National League All-Star team.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

Dodgers Honor Community Leaders through MLB

As part of the “PEOPLE All-Stars Among Us” campaign put on by Major League Baseball, PEOPLE magazine and the Dodgers, three LA-based community leaders have been selected as finalists.

Each MLB Club has three featured finalists which were selected from the online submissions of thousands of fans across North America.  Through June 20, fans are being encouraged to vote for their favorite community “All-Stars.”  At the conclusion of the voting period, one “All-Star” will be selected per Club and introduced during the pre-game festivities at the 2010 All-Star Game on July 13.  One of the final 30 will also be featured in PEOPLE.

Here’s a little additional information on the three LA finalists (from the Dodgers’ official press release):

The three Dodger finalists include Zaid Gayle of Los Angeles, Zachary Kidd of Burbank and Alma Martinez of Redondo Beach. 

Gayle founded Peace4Kids, a nonprofit providing programs and services for foster and at-risk youth ages 5 to 24.  More than 1,500 youth in Los Angeles neighborhoods have benefited from the organization’s programs, which include life skills training, mentorship and classes in the arts.

Kidd together with friends launched Goma Ventures, a micro-loan program for women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Goma Ventures’ loans empower Congolese women to start their own businesses and ultimately increase their families’ financial security.

Martinez founded Amigos sin Barreras/Friends without Barriers 16 years ago. Founded to honor her son, this organization serves low-income HIV-positive Los Angeles residents with medical care, food and social engagement. Her mission is to prevent the spread of and provide quality services for people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Ok, Dodger fans, get your vote in for these deserving community leaders!

Matt Kemp SHOULD be an All Star…

If you saw any part of tonight’s game at Milwaukee, particularly the 10th inning, you would have seen an All Star in action…

…at least in my book, he’s an All Star…

After hitting a grand slam in the top of the 10th to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 12-6, Kemp came up with an unbelievable catch in the bottom of the 10th to end the game…an over the shoulder, Willie Mays style catch on a drive by Jason Kendall…

How big was that play?…men on 1st and 3rd, 2 out…if Kendall gets a double on that play, perhaps both runners score and we’re looking at a 12-10 game with Jonathan Broxton struggling on the mound…instead, Kemp ends the game and ends the threat…Dodgers win!

I can accept the addition of Shane Victorino to the NL All Star squad…the fans voted and those in Philadelphia seem to have nothing better to do than sit in front of their computers and vote…I bet we’ll see a spike in carpal tunnel problems in Philadelphia in the coming months and years…

What I cannot accept is the replacement of injured outfielder, Carlos Beltran of the Mets, by Jayson Werth of the Phillies…granted, Charlie Manuel sees Werth play everyday and knows his talent, but how can a guy who wasn’t even part of the “final vote” by the fans be allowed to go to the All Star game ahead of a guy who Major League Baseball thought was good enough in the first place and could have gone if the fans voted him in?

I wonder who Charlie Manuel would have picked to replace Carlos Beltran had Matt Kemp won the Final Vote…Victorino or Werth?

Oh, and of course, Philadelphia now has 5 guys on the All Star team and the Dodgers, with the best record in the majors, has just 3…go figure…

Notes from the couch…

A theater crowd?
On my way to one of my coaching engagements, I was listening to Tuesday’s game against the Mets…it was classic how Rick Monday and Charley Steiner were describing the crowd…particularly when it was dead silent in the stadium…one of them said it was more like a “theater crowd rather than a baseball crowd”…classic!

Perhaps the pricing at Citi Field is to blame…for the game versus the Dodgers (considered a “Gold” game), the cheapest ticket was $23…at Dodger Stadium, the cheapest seats are $9…the equivalent Loge level seats at Dodger Stadium ($60) go for over twice that at Citi Field ($138)…I guess the Mets have priced themselves out of bringing in the true fans…now, they are tailoring their home crowds to the likes of the theater district…the Dodgers have done a great job of keeping prices low for the fans!

Home Field Advantage…on the road!
From watching parts of the recent series at San Diego on TV, it was great to see the Dodger fans out in force…very similar to what I experienced at the Dodgers/Angels game in Anaheim when the Weaver brothers pitched against each other…our Boys in Blue must feel like they are playing in front of the home crowd when chants of “Let’s go Dodgers!” ring throughout the stadium…

Manny makes fantasy owners happy…
As a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball manager who happens to have Manny Ramirez on his roster, I am pleased that he’s back in my lineup…I was beginning to get sick of my replacement outfielder, JD Drew, sitting every other game and not getting stats for me…in the 4 games since Manny returned, the Dodgers are 3-1 as a team and Manny’s given me 3 hits, a homer, 4 RBI’s and a run scored…I’ll take it!

Hoping for a speedy return!
When news hit that Ronald Belisario returned to Los Angeles after complaining of a stiff elbow, my first reaction was, “Uh oh!”…I saw Saturday’s game at San Diego and how he struggled to throw strikes…chalked it up to simply having a bad day, but hearing the news of his elbow has me concerned…he pitched in 43 of the Dodgers’ first 82 games…add to that the number of times he’s had to get up and warmup in the bullpen and you can see that it’s a lot of pitches thrown for a guy who had Tommy John surgery and sat out the 2005 and 2006 seasons…I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will pass and he’ll be back in the lineup soon…after all, it’s hard to lose a guy with a 2.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a blazing fastball…

I’ve done my part!
Matt Kemp is still in contention for the last roster spot for next week’s All Star Game in St. Louis…I find it amazing that the Dodgers, with the best record in Major League Baseball, have fewer All Stars (3 – Billingsley, Broxton, Hudson) than the New York Mets (4 – Wright, Beltran, Rodriguez, Santana)…didn’t the Dodgers just beat the Mets, 8-0 on Tuesday???…how did the Dodgers build their 53-30 record with just 3 All Stars and the Mets build their not-so-impressive 39-43 record with 4 All Stars?…oh well, I’ve done my part by voting for Matt Kemp over-n-over via mlb.com…have you?

Let’s Get Matt Kemp to St. Louis!

So the MLB’s Final Vote program has Matt Kemp up against Nationals shortstop Christian Guzman, D-Backs third baseman Mark Reynolds, Giants third-baseman Pablo Sandoval and Phillies outfielder (and former Dodger) Shane Victorino.

According to MLB.com, “This eighth annual event, which has gained in popularity each year, allows fans to decide the 33rd and final roster spot for the American and National Leagues leading up to the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.”

Additionally, the Dodgers and Angels are reportedly asking their fans to vote for each other’s players.  So Dodger fans, that means we’re all about Chone Figgins until voting closes on Thursday!

While I have several questions about how the finalists were selected (and why Juan Pierre isn’t on this list…the guy clearly is the most valuable Dodger position players in the first half of the season), I’m rolling with it and encouraging voting for our boy Matt.  While his stats are comparable to the other candidates (Sandoval is having an amazing year), Kemp’s fantastic defense can’t be measured in traditional stats.

Let’s make it happen people!