MLB announced the 2012 All-Star Game rosters on Sunday. This year’s Mid-Summer Classic will be staged at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, with the festivities starting on 8 July and the All-Star Game itself being played on 10 July (actually the early hours of 11 July for us in the U.K.).
Fans of the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants did a good job of getting their players into the Classic.
The Giants picks made the biggest difference on the National League side when looking at Mark George and my ballots.
Buster Posey will don the catching gear at the start of the game (ahead of Mark’s unabashed ‘homer’ pick of A.J. Ellis and my selection of Yadier Molina), Pablo Sandoval will be at third (both of us had David Wright at the hot corner on our ballots) and Melky Cabrera in the outfield.
The Cardinals’ Rafael Furcal will start at shortstop (Mark went for Jed Lowrie, while I took a flyer on Starlin Castro, who has made the initial roster as a reserve), while Dan Uggla will be at second base.
Uggla undoubtedly had a strong case, but both Mark and I went for Brandon Phillips and it’s a shame for the Reds’ second baseman that he hasn’t found his way onto the initial roster (I keep writing ‘initial’ roster as injuries can lead to players pulling out, as we saw last year). Phillips would have provided a better chance of seeing a dazzling fielding play, although Uggla has made a memorable impact with the glove in a previous All-Star Game. Sadly for him, it was his three error nightmare in 2008, no doubt something he will be reminded about more than a few times leading up to the game.
As for the American League starters, Mike Napoli got the Texas treatment ahead of A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Mauer. Prince Fielder gets in ahead of Paul Konerko, Derek Jeter unsurprisingly will start at short ahead of Elvis Andrus (if he decides to turn up this year) and Curtis Granderson takes one of the three starting outfield spots, with few begrudging Grandy a place in the starting lineup, I’m sure.
Both Mark and I used the ‘write in’ section to put Mike Trout on our ballots and he has made the roster as reserve, so I’ll stand by my prediction that he will do something memorable in the latter innings of the game.
Trout’s name keeps being linked with the other young rookie star in the making, Bryce Harper, and the Nationals’ outfielder is one of five players that has been put up for the National League’s Final Vote. There’s a lot of interest in Harper which will certainly help his cause; however I would guess that Chipper Jones will get the sentimental vote in his final season.
With my A’s cap on, I’m pleased for Ryan Cook to make it as Oakland’s representative in his rookie season, although Josh Reddick would have been a worthy selection too. He shouldn’t feel too hard done by: when it gets to that stage of the roster setting, it’s more about what pieces the manager needs to fill in than who is necessarily the person who deserves it the most.
Finally, there’s normally at least one non-selection that causes some controversy each year and it appears as though National League manager Tony La Russa’s decision not to select the Reds’ Johnny Cueto takes that prize in 2012. La Russa had several options to round out his pitching staff so there’s a very logical argument to counter the claim that Cueto has been deliberately snubbed.
Mind you, if a manager was going to hold a grudge against a player, it probably would be against someone who helped end the career of one of his former players – Jason LaRue - by kicking him in the head during a bench-clearing brawl.
If La Russa does hold a grudge against Cueto, and frankly I wouldn’t put it past him, I don’t think you could call it a petty one.
(Incidentally, there’s an article linked to on Jason LaRue’s Wikipedia entry entitled “Jason LaRue May Be Out For Season After Johnny Cueto’s uncalled for Kick to the Head”. I can understand what the author meant, but the wording used made me chuckle, raising as it does the possibility that there might have been a plausible circumstance on the field where Cueto’s kung-fu act would have been considered ‘called for’, which seems just a tad unlikely to me).