Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tom Verducci, SI, 6/29/06---doesn't even mention Mariano for All Star closer

Tough calls

Readers chime in with their own All-Star selections

Posted: Thursday June 29, 2006 2:24PM; Updated: Thursday June 29, 2006 5:14PM
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Jose Contreras hasn't lost a regular-season start since Aug. 15.
Jose Contreras hasn't lost a regular-season start since Aug. 15.
Tom Verducci will answer select questions from users in his Baseball Mailbag.
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No Jose Contreras on your starting American League All-Star team? He's only undefeated this year with 16 straight wins going back to last season.
-- Marc O'Connor, Homewood, Ill.

Man, it was tough to leave off a guy who hasn't lost a game in about a year. But he did miss a few starts this year, and Johan Santana has been his superior in strikeouts, ERA and keeping runners off base. It wasn't easy leaving off Roy Halladay, either. That Cy Young Award race is going to be awesome.

Verducci, you're a bonehead! Only one Met on your starting National League All-Star team and no David Wright? Cover curling instead, more your speed.
-- Bob McNamara, Ewing, N.J.

Does that mean you didn't like my picks?

I just saw your picks for AL All-Stars. I am happy to see that Jose Lopez, Troy Glaus and Joe Mauer are getting the nod. They are the best players at their positions this year. However, to put Jason Giambi at first base is a crime to two guys: David Ortiz and Travis Hafner. Ortiz is leading the league in RBIs and is the key factor to the Red Sox' recent winning streak that is pulling the Red Sox way out in front of Giambi's Yankees. Hafner is beating Giambi in many offensive categories. How can Giambi be the pick over these two guys?
-- Charlie, New York

Pretty simple: Ortiz and Hafner don't play first base. They are DHs. Hafner was my DH pick by a slight margin over Ortiz, but I'm not about to put a full-time DH at first base. Hafner and Ortiz, though, both deserve a spot on the AL team at the All-Star Game, where the DH, sadly, will not be used.

At the risk of sounding like a homer, I have a question regarding Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan. Boston's Jonathan Papelbon is having a brilliant season, and given that you have already included three Blue Jays (thank you) in your All-Star selections, I can understand why you chose him over B.J. for your team. However, since B.J. has a nearly identical ERA, with fewer hits, more strikeouts and only two more walks allowed than Papelbon, my question is twofold: 1) How does B.J.'s season stack up historically, and 2) who would you call on in the ninth inning of the World Series with a one-run lead?
-- Ian Keeling, Toronto

Ryan and Papelbon are halfway to all-time great seasons, joining Dennis Eckersley in 1990 (my pick for best ever), Trevor Hoffman in 1998 and Eric Gagne in 2003. To get the last out of the World Series, right now I'd go with Ryan, only because he's a little older and experienced (though not in October), but I'd also have no problems with Papelbon, who looks like he has the guts for that kind of situation.

Edgar Renteria over Jose Reyes for NL All-Star shortstop? Not only does Reyes dominate Renteria offensively, Reyes also leads the majors in runs, triples and stolen bases and is sixth in hits. Not to mention he's the catalyst for the team with the best record in the NL.
-- Mike, Washington, D.C. (via Matawan, N.J.)

Reyes is definitely having an All-Star season, though I would say it's not possible to "dominate" another player offensively when the other guy (Renteria) has a better OPS. Still, if I had to pick again, I might reconsider.



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