July 2006

Hey Now You're an All-Star

Smashmouth sings that song for those who are wondering. Yes, I’m a little punchdrunk here on All-Star Selection Sunday.

Anyway, before dissecting the All-Star selections, it should be noted that general manager Theo Epstein had the line of the day.

"I’m going to get fired. I traded half of the All-Star
team. It’s good to be 21 over (.500) when you traded half the All-Star team," quipped Epstein in the middle of the visting clubhouse at Dolphin Stadium as he examined the press releases highlighting  all the selections.

For those keeping track at home, those who left the Red Sox under Epstein’s watch and will be playing on the All-Star team. Bronson Arroyo, everyone’s favorite Red; Pedro Martinez, the erstwhile ace who had his Fenway return spoiled; Freddy Sanchez,  the blossoming infielder for the Pirates who was dealt by Epstein for Jeff Suppan  (that deal definitely did not work) in 2003; Edgar Renteria,  who had that ill-fated one year in Boston and has regained his form in Atlanta (and is still being paid a substantial amount by the Red Sox).

And I would guess a fifth  Epstein castoff will be added to the team in the next  few days, as our very own NOMAH  is on the Final Vote ballot for the National League and probably has the best candidacy and name recognition of all NL-ers on that ballot.

It’s good that Theo can poke fun at himself, even though I’m sure he would still make most of those moves again if he had the opportunity. I’m sure he wouldn’t do the Sanchez-Suppan deal again, I’ve heard him say that was a mistake, But I bet he would stand by all the others, even Arroyo when you consider the upside of Wily Mo.

From a Red Sox standpoint, I thought it worked out pretty well. Papelbon was a given, but you realize how precious this type of thing is to players when you hear how emotional he was after getting the news from a tearful Terry Francona. Ortiz is becoming a lock at the All-Star Game and he’ll also be in the derby. Wasn’t it great to see Loretta make the team? What a pro. Just a quiet, classy guy who does his job. And then there’s Manny, who made the team, and deservedly so, but all signs seem to point to him backing out with his sore right knee.

It’s hard to justify Schilling not making the team. He’s top five in most of the relevant pitching categories. It was interesting that Schilling didn’t get voted in by the players. Sure, he’s outspoken, but I think it would be unprofessional of opposing players not to vote for Schilling because they aren’t crazy about his personality. Maybe justice will prevail and he’ll get added on when, inevitably, someone else backs out with an injury or another reason.

And let’s face it, if Schilling doesn’t make it, we now have great theater for Sunday, the last game before the All-Star break. Yes, it is Schiling vs. the White Sox in Chicago, so i’m sure this one will be billed as Schilling vs. AL All-Star manager Ozzie Guillen, who chose not to take Schilling with one of the few selections he was eligible to make. It would be great to see Schilling throw a five-hit shutout.

Before moving on, here’s a shoutout for two other Red Sox players who easily could have been on the team. Mike Lowell has been a rock at third base and at the plate. And Kevin Youkilis has been the catalyst of the offense.

I think the All-Star stuff is fun, debating who should go and who shouldn’t. It’s part of what makes baseball so great. You have stats you to prove your point, where it’s hard to quantify the other sports as much with the stats. How can you prove which offensive lineman should represent the AFC?

At any rate, chime in with all of your All-Star thoughts. I’m curious. And i’ll talk to you Monday from under the roof of Tropicana Field.