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Tag:Chase HEadley
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:27 pm
 

Spring primer: San Diego Padres

Bud Black

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Padres' offseason was dominated by their trade with the Reds -- sending starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including projected starting first baseman Yonder Alonso and former All-Star Edinson Volquez. In an attempt to find more offense, the Padres also added Carlos Quentin in a deal with the White Sox. The Padres know their problem is scoring runs, and now it's just trying to figure out how to get it.

Major additions: OF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez
Major departures: CL Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Aaron Harang

Probable lineup
1. Will Venable RF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Cameron Maybin CF
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Jason Bartlett SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Stauffer
2. Clayton Richard
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Cory Luebke
5. Dustin Moseley

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Huston Street
Set-up: Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher

Important bench players
OF Chris Denorfia, 1B Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, RP/PH Micah Owings

Prospects to watch
While the Latos trade is one that will be referenced throughout the season, the team could ultimately benefit more from last season's traded that sent reliever Mike Adams to Texas in return for right-hander Joe Wieland and left-hander Robbie Erlin. Both Wieland and Erlin are control pitchers with flyball tendencies that will benefit from the trade. Both starters project to benefit from pitching half their games at spacious Petco Park rather than at the bandbox in Texas. Wieland went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts at Double-A San Antonio after the trade, while Erlin was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six starts for the Padres' Texas League affiliate. Both could find themselves in the big leagues later this year.

Fantasy sleeper: Edinson Volquez
"Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Yonder Alonso
"There are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The offensive additions bring a jolt to the Padres, with Quentin leading the way. While Petco does play big, it's not as extreme against right-handed pull hitters and he has one of the best offensive seasons we've seen in Petco. Speaking of offense, Alonso's left-handed but his natural stroke leads to a ton of doubles and with Maybin on base more often, he scores easily on so many of Alonso's two-baggers. The pitching staff benefits from the park more than the offense hurts and once again an unheralded pitching staff dominates -- led by a finally healthy Volquez -- and leads San Diego to a surprising run at the National League West title.

Pessimistic outlook
It's the same old, same old -- decent pitching at home, but not enough runs. Without scoring runs, the team slogs through another season, losing more than 90 games again. But hey, they're still in San Diego, so it's not all that bad.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Padres making moves for 2012

Josh ByrnesBy C. Trent Rosecrans 

While the White Sox have sent some mixed messages this offseason, the Padres have not. New San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes wants his team to score more runs in 2012, and he again made a move to try to do that acquiring outfielder Carlos Quentin from the White Sox in exchange for two minor-league pitchers.

"Ownership let us stretch payroll to make this move," Byrnes said Saturday afternoon on a conference call. "We started a couple of years ago, when (former GM) Jed (Hoyer) put a big focus on building a talent base and acquiring prospects to a point where it's a real strength. (Owner Jeff Morad) told me we had ways to stretch our payroll if we can be a surprise team in 2012 and have a foundation to sustain success at the Major League level."

Byrnes, who took over the team when Hoyer went to the Cubs, has used not only what is arguably the game's deepest farm system, but also some of the current talent to improve the Padres' immediate future. 

Since taking over, Byrnes acquired a replacement at closer for Heath Bell in Huston Street, pulled off a big trade with the Reds that brought in Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez, along with more prospects, for Mat Latos. And the Byrnes may not be done yet.

"We feel like we still have some work to do," Byrnes said. "I think certainly the biggest weakness of the 2011 team, the offense, we feel like we've taken some steps to improve it."

Quentin -- if healthy -- could be a big part of the new Padres lineup, hitting in the middle of the lineup along with Chase Headley and Nick Hundley.

Quentin was named to his second All-Star team last season, hitting 17 home runs in the first half of the season, before being limited to just 33 games after the All-Star Game in Arizona. The San Diego native -- and current resident -- hit 36 homers in 2008 and has averaged nearly 24 homers a season since, despite playing in just 116 games a year since his break-out season.

San Diego Padres

"He's a real threat and we lacked that last season," Byrnes said. "Last year, when we were down two or three runs, we were out of the game."

Quentin also is a better fit than many for Petco Park because he's a right-handed hitter and the majority of his homers are to left field, where it's easier to homer at Petco. Of Quentin's 24 home runs in 2011, all but one came to the left of second base. While U.S. Cellular Field has the opposite reputation for home run hitters as Petco, 14 of his 24 homers were calculated to have gone out in all 30 parks, according to HitTrackerOnline.com -- and as Byrnes noted, the Padres do play half their games away from Petco Park, something he's no doubt told free agent hitters since taking over.

"I've heard the different talks about the park. I was here when the park was first built -- I'm familiar with it, I've played here," Quentin said. "Bottom line is I'm a hitter first. … It's always been my approach to hit first and stay within myself. That's the most ideal approach to produce power. I'm not planning on changing that at all."

Acquiring Quentin helps rectify what Byrnes called one of his "regrets." As general manager of the Diamondbacks, Byrnes sent Quentin to the White Sox in December of 2007 in a move that helped bring Dan Haren to Arizona.

"The key point with Carlos is the intensity he has, he plays with a real edge and that's something we've been missing," Byrnes said.

Quentin will play left field, joining center fielder Cameron Maybin in the outfield a likely platoon of Will Venable and Chris Denorfia in right. The team also has Kyle Blanks, Mark Kotsay and Jesus Guzman, meaning another trade is far from unlikely at this point.

While one of the pitchers the Padres traded away, right-hander Simon Castro, was ranked as a Top 100 prospect before the 2011 season, he struggled in 2011 at Double-A and Triple-A, putting up a 5.63 ERA (although some of that can be attributed to the altitude in Tucson). Castro, and left-hander Pedro Hernandez, were unlikely to be ranked in the Padres' Top 10. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein had Castro ranked as the team's 20th best prospect and Hernandez wasn't ranked by Goldstein, so the true cost of the Padres' acquisition will be money. Quentin is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent after the season. He could make as much as $8 million this season through arbitration, plus the Padres took on payroll in the Latos deal, meaning the team could see a significant bump in its payroll for 2012.

As for the White Sox, they have perhaps the worst minor-league system in baseball and the acquisition of Castro and Hernandez should help. Both should be in Chicago's top prospects list. The White Sox have already traded off closer Sergio Santos and despite the extension for John Danks, the team appears to be in rebuilding mode, which is why they went ahead and dealt Quentin.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: November 24, 2011 2:15 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Homegrown Team: San Diego Padres



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. 

On one end of this spectrum is the team with baseball's highest payroll, the Yankees, and now we'll look at the other end, the San Diego Padres. The Padres have just $16.9 allocated toward its 2012 payroll at the end of the 2011 season, versus the Yankees' $171.5 million. The Padres weren't just at the opposite end of the payroll spectrum as the Yankees, they're also in the other league, the opposite coast and on the other end of the standings, finsihing last in the NL West with a 71-91 record.

Lineup

1. Chase Headley, LF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. David Freese, 3B
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Kyle Blanks, RF
6. Will Venable, CF
7. Nick Hundley, C
8. Logan Forsyth, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Jake Peavy
2. Mat Latos
3. Tim Stauffer
4. Wade LeBlanc
5. Cory Luebke

Bullpen

Closer - Shawn Camp
Set up - Brandon Gomes, Cesar Ramos, Ryan Webb, Josh Spence, Ernesto Frieri
Long - David Pauley, Anthony Bass

Notable Bench Players

Xavier Nady, George Kottaras

What's Good?

The bullpen may not have a guy that comes in and records a ton of saves, but there are some decent arms to get between the starters to the closer. The rotation isn't terrible -- it's not great, but it's not terrible, and pitching at Petco just about any rotation is going to be at least OK.

What's Not?

Like the real Padres, that lineup isn't going to put up a whole lot of runs. The Padres haven't had an easy time figuring out how to score runs at Petco, no matter where the players come from. Lee would have helped much more in the past than in 2011, and playing at Petco wouldn't have helped him, either. While Bartlett and Lee are good defenders, the rest of this group could struggle, especially with Headley back in the outfield and Veneble in center.  

Comparison to real 2011

Finishing 71-91, the Padres weren't great, but they were probably better than this product. The rotation would hinge on Peavy's health. Peavy managed 18 starts for the White Sox, going 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA. There's no telling what his record would be with the Padres, considering the team's offensive woes, but his ERA would have been lower. Overall, this team isn't scaring anyone and while the record may be different with this team, its place in the standings would likely be the same.

Up next: Minnesota Twins

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:12 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 San Diego Padres

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: San Diego Padres
Record: 68-88, 19.5 games back in NL West
Manager: Bud Black
Best hitter: Chase Headley -- .291/.377/.405, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 42 R, 28 2B, 13 SB
Best pitcher: Mat Latos -- 8-14, 3.60 ERA, 1.212 WHIP, 176 K, 187 1/3 IP

Nobody expected much out of the Padres after losing Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox  and they didn't disappoint. If 2010's run at the NL West title was a shock, 2011's last-place finish wasn't.

2011 SEASON RECAP

San Diego was eight games back by the end of April, so it's hardly a surprise the team finished dead last in the NL West. After fantastic pitching led the team to the brink of the playoffs a year ago, the team couldn't recreate its magic of 2010. Mat Latos took a step back (but was still pretty good), while Clayton Richard made just 18 starts before being shut down for the season and undergoing shoulder surgery.

While nobody stepped up to take all of Gonzalez's offensive load, the team had some surprisingly good offensive performances, as third baseman Chase Headley put together a solid season, as did catcher Nick Hundley (.289/.352/.471 with eight homers) and first baseman Jesus Guzman (.313/.369/.479 with five homers). And then there was Cameron Maybin, the former first-round pick of the Tigers and big part of the trade that sent Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detroit had been labeled as a disappointment for several years now despite the fact he's now just 24 years old. Not only did Maybin hit a respectable .266/.322/.397 with nine homers and 38 stolen bases, he's shown the ability to patrol the spacious outfield at Petco. If he continues to improve and works on his on-base percentage, Maybin can be a maintain in San Diego.

2012 AUDIT

With the rise of the Diamondbacks, the return of the Giants, what has to be a better year for the Rockies and hopefully new ownership in Los Angeles, there's not much room for optimism in the NL West for the lowly Padres. But hey, it's a really nice ballpark, and you live in San Diego, what can you really complain about?

The rotation should be relatively stable, with Latos, Richard, Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley, with Cory Luebke, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly ready to step in if needed. The bullpen is a bigger question, with free agent Heath Bell and the departure of Mike Adams

The biggest weakness in the lineup is the middle infield, where Orlando Hudson was OK, but aging, and Jason Bartlett didn't do much. Kyle Blanks has once again flashed the ability to rise above the constraints of the ballpark, but lacked consistency.

FREE AGENTS

Heath Bell, RP
Jeremy Hermida, OF

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Can the Padres get anyone who can actually hit the ball? Or is it that tough to do Petco Park? Well, it'd be nice to get a big bopper, but with the reputation of Petco, no free agent hitter in his right mind is going to sign with San Diego. Even those with good numbers before coming to Petco, like Ryan Ludwick, left without much success. While Ludwick hasn't exactly rebounded in Pittsburgh, his free agent stock will take a tumble and there's no doubt he and his agent will blame it on Petco. Petco -- and the team's payroll ceiling -- will force the Padres to add offense through trades and developments rather than free-agent signings.

Then there's the matter of the team's bullpen. There will be a lot of the same names, but the backend will be different than it was this season after the trade of Adams and the possible departure of Bell. Here's five things I'd do to help the Padres going forward:

  • Wave goodbye to Bell. Bell wants to stay in San Diego, but the team's budget can't afford a luxury such as a veteran closer like Bell, who made $7.5 million in 2011 and will be expecting a raise. San Diego held onto the right-hander at the trade deadline, but for a team like the Padres, the value of the draft picks if he doesn't accept arbitration and signs elsewhere was more than the team would receive at the trade deadline. It's tough to see Bell go, but is hardly like watching Trevor Hoffman save games for another team. That's  something they've lived with before and can live with again.
  • Trade Guzman to the American League. The guy is born to be a designated hitter and you just don't utilize that position in the National League. The Padres should ignore Anthony Rizzo's 2011 (.138/.274/.244 in 146 plate appearances) and let him get his chance to play every day in 2012. Rizzo struggled in the big leagues, but killed it in Triple-A. There's enough talent there to believe the Triple-A results are the real deal. If not, you know going forward. Guzman could pick up yet another starter, a reliever or even a replacement second baseman for the the aging Hudson.
  • Pick up the option on Aaron Harang. It's a mutual option, so he has a say, but there's no player happier to be playing for one team than Harang is playing for San Diego. A native of San Diego, Harang has loved being around his and his wife's families, especially after having Twins last December. A close second to family concerns for Harang is the relief of pitching in Petco Park. A fly-ball pitcher, Harang gave up an average of 24 homers a year in his six full seasons in Cincinnati, with 35 in 2008. This season he's allowed 20 -- and just seven at home. He's not going to get Cy Young votes anymore, but he'll be steady in the rotation. While Harang could maybe get more than the $5 million the Padres are on the line to pay in 2012, he's not going to get any more money from San Diego. It's the perfect marriage for the player and the team. There was certainly itnerest in Harang at the trade deadline this year, and there may be a year from now, too. 
  • See what you have in outfielder James Darnell. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Darnell hit .310/.406/.547 with 23 homer runs. Darnell had been a third baseman, but played a bit in the outfield for Triple-A Tucson. He needs to work on outfield play in the offseaosn and come into camp ready to take a spot.
  • Any free agent signings need to be modest and target the bullpen. Target lower-priced, veteran arms who could help out in the bullpen, not overpriced closers. Names to think about include Shawn Camp, Matt Belisle and Todd Coffey. Nobdoy's going to get excited about these moves, but they could work out and shouldn't cost too much.

No, the Padres aren't going to the World Series with these moves, but they'll be under budget and have a better idea of what their futures holds after the 2012 season. Some things may not work out, Rizzo may not be the hitter we think he is, but we'll know. And as a wise man once said, that's half the battle. The other half is lasers. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Headley fractures finger, Darnell gets call

DarnellBy Evan Brunell

The Padres have lost third baseman Chase Headley for at least a month to a fracture of his left pinkie, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Headley's absence will be felt strongly in a lineup that was already light on firepower. Enjoying the best season of his career, the 27-year-old hit .292/.380/.407.

Replacing Headley on the 25-man roster is James Darnell (pictured), continuing a parade of strong prospects to arrive in San Diego over the past year. In fact, Darnell joins a team in which over half the club has been a teammate of Darnell's earlier this season at Triple-A and Double-A. 

“The last couple of years, when you look at young players, you try to project what they can do, what they can become,” Padres manager Bud Black said. Darnell is no different, with a real chance to impact the team.

Darnell's calling card is his on-base percentage, resting at a career .404 down on the farm. Over 464 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A, the 24-year-old hit .317/.415/.573 with 23 home runs. While Darnell has never been considered an elite prospect, he could easily take the road Kevin Youkilis did -- using his plate discipline to get a shot with potential of emerging into a solid -- or better -- regular. Admittedly, that's a high bar to set.

Darnell will get an opportunity to play third and also split time in left with Kyle Blanks, but Darnell's future appears to be in the outfield. That may be difficult to arrange, with Darnell, Blanks and first basemen Jesus Guzman and Anthony Rizzo all vying for playing time.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 1:10 pm
 

Chipper heads to DL, surgery likely

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper JonesThe Braves have placed Chipper Jones on the disabled list, Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Jones has played with a  torn meniscus in his right knee, but couldn't go any longer.

Jones is expected to undergo arthroscopic surgery on the knee and miss two to three weeks. He had been taking cortisone shots, but the shot he received on Sunday didn't relieve any pain.

"It's not getting any better," he told Rogers. "It's gradually getting worse. I'm going to have to address it some time."

The 39-year-old Jones had his 2010 cut short when he tore the ACL in his left knee and even contemplated retirement before coming back this season. He's hitting .259/.340/.428 with eight home runs and 46 RBI so far this season, but has seen his production drop since the end of April, when he was hitting .281/.364/.479.

Jones was named to the National League All-Star team, but will miss the game because of the injury.

Atlanta recalled infielder Brandon Hicks from Triple-A to take Jones' roster spot.

If I'm filling out the All-Star team, I take the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez, who is hitting .300/.349/.505 with 15 home runs 50 RBI. Ryan Reynolds of the Diamonbacks and Chase Headley of the Padres are other alternatives, but look for Ramirez to get the nod.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Introducing your 2011 NL West All-Star team

By Evan Brunell

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central
For a number of years, the NL West has been fairly balanced. Every team except the Rockies has a division title in the past five years, and the Rockies advanced to the World Series as a wild-card team back in 2007. That balance is clearly seen in the representatives of the NL West All-Star team, which you can see below.

MonteroC Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: Poor Buster Posey. He had this on lockdown until... well, no need to rehash it, but he's out for the year. Montero's a great consolation prize. He has ripped 10 home runs and has a .275/.346/.468 mark. Montero was actually in a close race with Chris Iannetta of Colorado for this gig, but Montero outstrips Iannetta in caught stealing, nabbing 12 of 37 baserunners.

Helton1B Todd Helton, Rockies: It's quite the renaissance year for the aging first baseman who was once known for his ability to hit for average and power while drawing walks. Now, it's just average and home-run power, but it's plenty enough to outpace any other first baseman in the division -- although, with all due respect to Helton, that says much more about first basemen in the division than it does Helton. Anyway, he's cranking to the tune of a .315/.394/.481 mark, with much of his power coming from an affinity for doubles.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Chase Headley SD 3B
2 Justin Upton ARI RF
3 Troy Tulowitzki COL SS
4 Matt Kemp LAD DH
5 Chris Young ARI CF
6 Carlos Gonzalez COL LF
7 Miguel Montero ARI C
8 Todd Helton COL 1B
9 Kelly Johnson ARI 2B
Johnson2B Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks: What, you'd prefer Aaron Miles? In a case of having to take the best option, Johnson edges Miles despite the latter hitting .320 and Johnson a meager .217. So why does Johnson get the edge? Because he's a better fielder and boasts more power, and he has also swiped eight bases to Miles' three. That's how someone hitting .217/.298/.431 can post a higher Wins Above Replacement mark (1.5) than Miles at .320/.339/.377, who has a 1.0 WAR. (It should be noted that Johnson has about 100 more plate appearances, but even adding those 100 PA would probably not be enough to bump Johnson.)

Headley3B Chase Headley, Padres: Not usually a name you see at the top of leaderboards, but Headley is enjoying a career year -- and is taking advantage of injuries to notable third basemen in the game to put his name in the conversation. Due to playing in cavernous Petco Park, his slugging percentage this season is a meager .404, but it's an impressive .465 on the road. His value comes from taking a walk, which is why he leads off this All-Star team despite just eight stolen bases. He boasts a .302 batting average along with a .392 OBP. If Pablo Sandoval hadn't missed so much time due to injury, he probably would have claimed this spot.

TulowitzkiSS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: What is there left to say about Tulo, who right now can lay claim to being the best shortstop in the game? While he hasn't performed up to snuff compared to his last two seasons, he's still plenty valuable and easily the best shortstop in the division, hitting to the tune of a .271/.339/.495 line and 37 extra bases. Oh, and he can pick it on defense.

GonzalezLF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: CarGo hasn't hit as well as his awe-inspiring 2010, but he can be forgiven for that as he set impossibly high standards. Colorado will take a .296/.363/.497 line, and so will we to honor him with the left-field starting job on the NL West All-Star team. He still has a remarkable home/away split, but no other left fielder truly threatened for this spot.

YoungCF Chris Young, Diamondbacks: Let's get this out of the way first. For those wondering where Matt Kemp is, hold your horses. We'll get to him in a minute. Young snags the center field job thanks to his strong defense and a power display that we haven't seen from him since 2007, when he slammed 32 home runs. He has exactly half that total (16) in 88 games so far, so he stands a shot of cracking the 30 HR barrier. He's currently hitting .255/.324/.478.

UptonRF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Anyone else think Kevin Towers is relieved he didn't trade the 23-year-old in the offseason? Upton's walk rate is less than last season but not out of whack with the league, and he is striking out much less. That increased contact has lifted his batting average to .295 (.377 OBP, .502 slugging percentage), the second-highest of his career. (He hit .300 in 2009.) He's hammered 14 homers on the year, just three off his 2010 total.

KempDH Matt Kemp, Dodgers: And here Kemp is, occupying the DH spot. Yes, the DH doesn't exist in the NL West, but regardless of what team, league or stadium holds the All-Star Game, the DH is used. So there. Kemp earns this spot with a season that's already given him a 20 HR, 20 SB season -- and with three more home runs, he'll reach 25/25. So yeah, he'll definitely hit 30/30 this year, and 40/40 is not out of the question if he hits a hot streak. He DH's with a .324/.408/.603 line because the dude simply cannot field and needs to be moved to left soon.

KershawSP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in the entire game, never mind one of the best lefties or youngsters. One of the best, period. The 23-year-old has already tossed 122 2/3 innings on the season and posted a 3.23 ERA. That ERA would actually be the highest of his full seasons in the majors. But his third year actually boasts stronger peripherals, leading to a 2.66 xFIP that is currently a career best. He has punched out 138 and walked just 33.

RomoRP Sergio Romo, Giants: Romo or Mike Adams was a very, very difficult choice to make. So why did Romo get the spot over Adams? Simple: K/BB numbers. Romo has punched out 12.87 batters per nine innings and walked 1.26, good enough for a 2.20 ERA and 1.65 xFIP in 28 2/3 innings. Adams actually beats the ERA (1.35) and innings-pitched (40), but his K.9 is 9.23 and BB/9 at 1.13, with an xFIP of 2.59.

BellCL Health Bell, Padres: Bell won't be a Padre for much longer, I'm guessing, so better get him on here while we still can. He has had quite an impressive career so far as a closer, and this year is no exception. He has 26 saves, but his strikeout numbers are way down and would actually be a career-worst. Who knows why, but he's not having trouble getting by as his 2.55 ERA and 3.78 xFIP indicate.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 12:17 am
 

Picking All-Stars on performance, not popularity

Adrian Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell


The final week of All-Star voting is around the corner, and it can only be done online. That's the perfect opportunity for me to unveil my own All-Star ballot, and I'll be part of a record.

Fans so far have cast 250 million votes (which is misleading because each e-mail address can vote up to a whopping 25 times), which broke the record from 2009, with 223.4 million votes, as MLB.com reports.

Rosters will be unveiled on Sunday, July 3, but until then there are still plenty of races to be decided. I'm not really a fan of voting when the chance to do so opens in late April, because... come on. That's why this will be my first ballot, so let's take a ride through who I select and why. To vote yourself, simply click here.

All statistics prior to Thursday's games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Alex Avila, Tigers -- Russell Martin is surely a lucky dude as he gets to play in New York, hit .233/.342/.407 (with much of his value tied up in a scorching April) and yet Alex Avila quietly puts up a .300/.373/.532 line in Detroit -- outhitting every other catcher in the game. Well, that stops now. Simply put: Anyone who votes for Martin clearly doesn't get what the All-Star Game is about: putting the best players on the field, not the players who play in a big media market.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Do you really need an explanation? OK, let's give it a go. Gonzalez's .359 batting average is 24 points better than Jose Reyes', whose .335 mark leads the senior circuit. Gonzo also leads baseball with 69 RBI, 109 hits and 25 doubles. Oh, and those 15 home runs aren't bad at all. Overall, that's a scintillating .359/.410/.609 mark. Dude loves being out of Petco.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels -- Quick, who is the best offensive second baseman in the league? If you said Robinson Cano, you're right -- but it's not by much. Cano is currently raking at a .299/.344/.520 mark, but Kendrick is right there with a .305/.362/.498, barely a step behind. Kendrick is also the better defender at second base and in my version of the All-Star Game, defense counts too.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians -- Apologies to Alexei Ramirez who actually grades out better once you factor in defense, but I can live with Cabrera's D (which isn't bad by any means) in order to get his bat in the lineup. The offensive difference is simply too great as Cabrera is delivering on the promise he showed in 2009 with a .298/.351/.498 mark with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He actually has a similar offensive game to Jhonny Peralta, but the stolen bases were the clincher.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Many have thought A-Rod's best days are behind him and while that's certainly true, he's still the best third baseman in the game, although that designation means a little less in what is a surprisingly weak class this year. All due respect to Rodriguez, who deserves the honor with 13 bombs and a .296/.375/.510 line. Kevin Youkilis actually appears to be the better hitter, but it's close and while I don't really trust Rodriguez's fielding metrics this year that show him as a top fielder, not many would argue he's worse than Youk in the field.

OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- .325/.470/.645. Next!

OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- Granderson is exploding into the 40-homer monster a few people (cough, me, cough) predicted after his trade to the Yankees. It took until his second season, but he's keeping pace with Bautista in the home run department, just two behind with 20. He's even hitting lefties this season, and once you add in his speed and fielding, it's all over.

OF: Alex Gordon, Royals -- There were several candidates for this position, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Gordon gets the call here with a 288/.356/.483 line, better Gardner and just under Ellsbury. While Gordon is a left fielder and Ellsbury is plying his trade in center, Ellsbury has bad fielding instincts which his speed hides quite a bit. Gordon, meanwhile, is a sound fielder, all the more impressive given he came up and began his career as a third baseman. Plus, someone from Kansas City's got to make it.

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox -- Big Papi is turning back the clock with his best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2007, the last year he was truly the Big Bad Papi. At .313/.391/.586 with 17 homers, he's enjoying quite the renaissance and has earned this nomination.

ReyesNATIONAL LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Brian McCann, Braves -- Alex Avila is outhitting every catcher in the game as mentioned above, but Brian McCann is trying his hardest to take away that distinction with a .305/.380/.523 line. McCann, who already has an All-Star MVP to his name by knocking a bases-clearing double in the 2010 Game to finally give the NL a victory, deserves the chance to start for the first time in what will be his sixth All-Star Game.

1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- The loss of Albert Pujols makes this an easier crop to sift through, and Fielder comes away with the prize. Really, it's between the Brewer and Joey Votto, with apologies to Gaby Sanchez. While Votto's the better fielder (pun unintended), Prince's 20 home runs are 11 more than Votto and he's miles ahead of the 2010 NL MVP in power production at this point.

2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Weeks joins Fielder in creating an all-Brewer right side of the infield, and he's deserving. Following up his breakout 2010 campaign, Weeks has gotten right back at it with a .287/.356/.498 line. He's also picking up his speed, already swiping seven bases after just 11 last season.

SS: Jose Reyes, Mets -- This one just isn't close at all; Reyes' 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (which combines offense, defense and baserunning) is miles ahead of the next best mark at the position, held by both Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez. Reyes is simply doing it all in a season that could net him a $150 million contract in the offseason, and is just one of three shortstops with at least 20 stolen bases. Naturally, he leads all of them with 26.

3B: Chase Headley, Padres -- I didn't quite realize how unimpressive the third-base crop was in the NL, but none separate themselves from the pack. I suppose that's what happens when Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all knock themselves out of the running due to being injured. Ryan Roberts has one of the best seasons of any NL third baseman that qualifies for the batting title, but his entire value with the bat is packed into April. So Headley it is, who is hitting .295/.389/.402, a pleasantly surprising number for the former left fielder who is enjoying his best season so far. 

OF:  Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Kemp is already a member of the 20/20 club and has put to rest any ideas that he doesn't care enough with an impressive .328/.420/.620 line, with his slugging percentage leading all of the NL. He's added 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 58 RBI as a major, major reason the Dodgers can still kinda/sorta call themselves contenders after injuries have decimated their team.

OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- I don't think Holliday misses Coors Field, do you? He definitely doesn't miss the Coliseum in Oakland or whatever the heck it's called these days. He's doing just fine in St. Louis with a .335/.439/.555 line. I have to admit, I didn't realize Holliday was hitting this well. Of all the big outfield boppers in the game, he flies under the radar the most.

OF: Shane Victorino, Phillies -- I feel as if no matter who I pick here, I'm leaving off quite a few deserving candidates. It's true -- where is Ryan Braun? Lance Berkman? Andrew McCutchen? Justin Upton? But I'm loving the year Victorino is having with a .296/.362/.511 line with 11 stolen bases in 58 games after missing time due to injury. (Kemp, for comparison, has played in 76 games.) Add in his excellent fielding and smart baserunning, and Victorino is bringing the whole package this year.

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