Where NL players, Tony LaRussa went wrong with All-Star picks

Ryan Vogelsong said he doesn’t get respect for what he does on the pitching mound. And that’s why he wasn’t selected for the All-Star Game (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

After looking at the All-Star voting, I feel a little sheepish about complaining about the selections of the players and manager Tony LaRussa.

But in the end, the Giants ended up with four All-Stars, three of which deserved to be there — Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey and Matt Cain.

You could make the argument that there were more deserving players than Pablo Sandoval. But you could also say the Giants had two All-Star snubs — Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo. You could even make a case for Madison Bumgarner or Santiago Casilla.

Some have argued that Sandoval’s election to start the All-Star game cost Vogelsong a spot. It’s possible that it’s true and it’s not true.

To explain that, we need to take a harder look at the selection process.

The All-Star team, as it stands now, is compiled in three parts: Fan voting for starters (8), players’ vote for eight pitchers and eight reserves (basically the backup at every position, and nine players added by LaRussa to fill out the roster and make sure each team is represented.

After the fans voted in the starters, the players voted in these eight position players:

1B Bryan Lahair, Cubs; 2B Jose Altuve, Astros; SS Starlin Castro, Cubs; 3B David Wright, Mets; C Yadier Molina, Cardinals; OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; OF Ryan Braun, Brewers; OF Andrew McCutchen.

And the following pitchers (5 starters and 3 relievers) …

Craig Kimbrel, Braves; Aroldis Chapman, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; R.A. Dickey, Mets; Matt Cain, Giants; Lance Lynn, Cardinals; Joel Hanrahan, Pirates.

MoreSplashHits takes no offense to most of the players’ selections. But two picks actually caused some issues.

1B Bryan LaHair, Cubs: This selection wasn’t too bad, almost a month ago. On June 7, LaHair had 12 home runs and was hitting .311. Now, he’s hitting .284 and he’s only hit one more homer. With the callup of Anthony Rizzo, LaHair isn’t even starting every day … for a last-place club. The best selection would have been Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks. Goldschmidt has 11 HR, 35 RBI and is hitting .292. His slash line of .292/.367/.540 is better than LaHair’s of .284/.364/.526, and it would have given Arizona it’s lone representative that instead went to Wade Miley, costing another pitcher a spot.

SP Lance Lynn, Cardinals: Lynn was 10-2 with 2.42 ERA on June 13, shortly before player voting starting. But since he’s given up 17 runs in 15.1 innings. He’s 10-4 with a 3.62. But two of those starts may have occurred after player voting ending.

We do take greater issue with some of Tony LaRussa’s selections.

LaRussa picked Carlos Ruiz, c, Phillies; Ian Desmond, ss, Nationals; Jay Bruce, of, Reds; Giancarlo Stanton, of, Marlins; Cole Hamels, sp, Phillies; Jonathan Papelbon, rp, Phillies; Clayton Kershaw, sp, Dodgers; Wade Miley, sp, Diamondbacks; and Huston Street, rp, Padres.

We have no problem with the selections of Ruiz, Kershaw and Stanton. Frankly, we’re stunned the players didn’t vote for Ruiz and let LaRussa pick Molina.

When the players picked LaHair over Goldschmidt, it forced LaRussa’s hand to pick Miley as the Diamondbacks’ lone representative. And we also aren’t too bent out of shape over the Bruce pick. We probably would have gone with Michael Bourn of the Braves, but it’s a close call. Plus, Bourn likely will make the team as an injury replacement for Matt Kemp if Bourn doesn’t win the fan voting for the final spot on the NL roster.

There are picks we have big beefs with:

Huston Street: Yes, we know Street is the Padres’ lone representative. But we feel Chase Headley would have been the better choice. Street has been great this season, but in limited action as he missed a month of the season on the DL. Headley would have been a more meaningful pick for Padres’ fans. He’s a product of San Diego’s system and figures to be with the Padres longer than Street. Street was acquired in the offseason, missed a month on the DL and likely won’t be with the team come August. If Headley is on the team, Ian Desmond likely is not, but it would have opened a slot for another, more deserving reliever … i.e. Sergio Romo (2-1, 0.79 ERA). But set-up guys don’t get the love, even though Romo has been lights-out this season, and lights-out last season, too.

Cole Hamels: Hamels was great in April and May, not so great in June (especially early June). He was 8-1 with 2.43 ERA on May 28, but 2-3 since then. His ERA sits at 3.08. Not bad. But it cannot compare to Johnny Cueto’s 9-4 and 2.26 ERA. LaRussa said he passed on Cueto because he was set to pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game. Completely stupid. You pick the most deserving player, then let the schedule play itself out. If Cueto was declared unavailable for the ASG, pick a replacement.

Jonathan Papelbon: Four relievers is plenty for an All-Star Game. Once LaRussa opted to make Street the Padres’ rep, he should have looked to another starter, of which there are plenty of good candidates. As for Papelbon, again he started very hot, saving his first 9 chances with a 0.82 ERA. One bad outing in early May led his ERA to blow up to 3.00. He worked it back down to 2.02. But his last three outings haven’t gone so well. He twice allowed the opposing team to take the lead, only to get the win when the Phillies rallied to win in the bottom of the inning. His ERA is now at 3.03 and his last outing was June 26, plenty of time for LaRussa to notice there are better candidates like Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 2.26), James McDonald (8-3, 2.45) or Chris Capuano (9-3, 2.69).

Now, it’s possible that Sandoval’s election kept Vogelsong off the team. LaRussa may not have wanted to give the Giants five spots on the team and end up with more than his own World Series champion Cardinals, who also had four (Molina, Furcal, Beltran and Lynn).

There could have been backlash with Sandoval’s election because it kept David Wright from winning the start, then the players would have voted for the backup, which may have cost another Cardinal a spot (David Freese). As it is, Freese is one of the five finalists for the Final Spot vote.

Again, it’s hard to complain too much when the Giants landed five on the All-Star Game last year: One who was voted on by the players (Brian Wilson) and three who were picked by manager Bruce Bochy (Cain, Tim Lincecum and Vogelsong). Sandoval was later added as an injury replacement.

The chances of Giants being added as late replacements this year aren’t good. There are two All-Stars battling injuries right now: Matt Kemp (who is unlikely to play) and Joey Votto (who is iffy). But there is little chance of Brandon Belt or Angel Pagan being added.

As for the pitchers, LaRussa specifically avoided pitchers who may pitch on Sunday, so that won’t be a factor.

Cain, Dickey, Hamels, Miley and Lynn pitch Thursday, Strasburg and Kershaw pitch Friday, and Gonzalez pitches Saturday.


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