Midweek Mailbag: All Star Game, Home Run Derby, Injuries, Playoffs, and Trades


Chris Davis received the most fan support for this year’s All Star Game voting, but is that symbolic of flaws in the system for determining the ASG rosters? (Image Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports)

In our never-ending quest to reach our readers and bring the best content that we can that covers the entirety of Major League Baseball, we’ve elected to launch a new feature here at CTTP: a Midweek Mailbag. Each Wednesday morning we’ll line up some of the best questions from you, our readers, and fire off the most thorough answers we possibly can. No team or topic is off limits. Since we’re starting new here with this feature, this first edition of the mailbag will be a little different as all of our questions originated from writers here within FanSided MLB. These guys asked some good ones, but we know that there will be some quality inquiries from our readers as well in the coming editions.

Want something answered here at the Pen? Send us an email at calltothepen@fansided.com and maybe you’re question will appear in next week’s mailbag.

How do you feel about fan voting for the All Star Game? What alternatives would you suggest? – Kyle Franzoni, Jays Journal

Honestly, I’m kind of torn on this one. I like that the fans are able to participate in determining who’ll be on the rosters for each team but I think it’s somewhat of a flawed system. For instance, in both the American League and National League the outfielder who finished fourth in fan voting (Nick Markakis and Justin Upton) failed to make the roster for the ASG altogether. If so many wanted to see these two players in the game, then why aren’t they going to be participating? Why couldn’t they have been selected as reserves or even considered for the Final Vote*?

Fan voting is fine with me in general. We select the starters of the game and nothing more. Sure, the starters aren’t always the player at each position that most deserves to start the game. There’s a degree of popularity that goes into things. Why else would Chris Davis lead all vote-getters this year? He’s having a hell of a season thus far and certainly deserves to be in the starting lineup, but is he the best player in all of baseball on the season to date? I’d venture to suggest that most of us would say no. I don’t have an issue with fan voting, however, because it’s not like we’re voting in players who don’t belong in the game at all. Look at the starters in both the NL and AL and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player named who shouldn’t be in the ASG at all. There’s plenty of opinion about who should start, but generally these guys would be there anyway so why is it such an issue that they are starting over someone else simply because they received support from the fans?

The part that I think needs a major overhaul is how the bench is filled out. I have no problem with a player from each team needing to be represented. I have no problem with multiple players at each position being named. I have some issue, however, with the amount of manager selections that each league is awarded. I have a ton of respect for Jim Leyland, for instance, but where’s the justification for taking Jhonny Peralta and Torii Hunter over some other players in the AL that are clearly more deserving? The fact that he can (and did) choose his own players – simply because he wanted to – doesn’t really sit well with me.

* The Final Vote, by the way, is something I can completely do without. Rosters are already extended to 33 players, so I fail to see the need for one more. And does the AL really need another reliever on the roster considering the chances are high that whomever “wins” likely won’t even get into the game to begin with? Maybe I’m just frustrated with the concept because it doesn’t really include the next five players who should/could have been on the roster already but aren’t for whatever reason. No offense to Steve Delabar, David Robertson, Koji Uehara, Joaquin Benoit, and Tanner Scheppers here but the vote would make more sense if it were between Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Greg Holland, Adrian Beltre, and Markakis.

How would you make the Home Run Derby and All Star Game better? – Stuart Jones, Around the Foghorn

The HRD needs to be fun again, plain and simple. It’s almost too structured. I miss the days of Ken Griffey Jr. at the plate, with his hat turned backwards and that massive and energetic smile on his face because he was just simply enjoying himself. Yes, there’s still a degree of fun to the event. Where else do we see players lining the field just to watch what is essentially batting practice with both families and cameras in tow? Where else can we see a guy swinging for the fences on pitches thrown by his father or high school coach?

Yet, there’s still something lacking from the HRD. Guys are almost too concerned with not embarrassing themselves rather than just hitting home runs. It should be fun and it needs to be again, though I’m not sure how to change it so that we can accomplish that.

As for making the ASG itself better, again I’d say just focus on making it fun. Take away this whole “this one counts” nonsense. One of my all-time favorite ASG moments was when Torii Hunter robbed Barry Bonds of a home run in Milwaukee and as he ran in from center field there was Bonds to meet him on the infield. The pair laughed about the catch and were clearly enjoying themselves. It wasn’t about being competitive. It wasn’t about winning. It was just about the best players playing the game that they love to play – and enjoying themselves while doing so.

Should the All Star Game be moved to Wednesday, with the Futures Game on Monday and Home Run Derby on Tuesday? – Jason Evans, Yanks Go Yard

I’m not necessarily sure that would make much of a difference. As things stand now, the ASG will be played on Tuesday, the Derby on Monday, and the Futures Game on Sunday. Would pushing it all back one day make a difference? I’d guess no. I don’t know that more people would watch any of the aforementioned events more simply because they were a day later. Given the other events that take place over All Star Weekend (FanFest and the Celebrity Softball Game) I see no real reason to change it.

David Wright picked Michael Cuddyer for the Home Run Derby. Huh? – Michael Hllywa, Halo Hangout

Why wouldn’t Wright select Pedro Alvarez for the Derby? Disrespect or just putting the Bucs in their place? – Tom Smith, Rum Bunter

I’ll grant you that Cuddyer seems like an unlikely choice for the NL side of the Derby. There are numerous candidates that could have been better options, both in terms of filling out the squad with players the fans want to see and in terms of filling out a group that stands a better chance at winning for the National League. Alvarez, Domonic Brown, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, the list could go on with alternatives who might be just as, if not more “qualified” to participate. We don’t really know if any of these guys were asked to participate and declined. We don’t really know if they were next on Wright’s list, had one of the actual participants had declined. Stories have come out suggesting that Wright asked Cuddyer because the two are friends and the reasoning behind his inclusion really just might be that simple. He wouldn’t have been my choice, but that’s not a call I get to make.

What do you see as the one thing that will separate playoff teams versus those that will just miss the playoffs this season? Starting pitching? Bullpen? A lack of offense?John Tenney, Venom Strikes

The old cliché is that teams can never have enough pitching, so could that be the simplest answer here? I don’t think that it can be equated to just one aspect, however, as it truly takes a balance between having a strong (and deep) starting rotation and a reliable bullpen for a team to advance to the playoffs. I think it’s clear that a strong pitching staff can carry a team further than a strong offense. A little luck never hurts either.

Why does it seem like players are more frequently injured now than they were 20 years ago? – Paul Prims, BoSox Injection

Paul suggested that the answer might have something to do with the excessive workout regimens that players put themselves through in today’s game, essentially they put too much stress on their own bodies, but I’d venture that is only one part of the equation. I really think the answer here is far simpler. Medical information and technology has continued to develop and advance over the years. We know more about how the human body works than we did 20 years ago and as a result, medical staffs are able to diagnose (and treat) injuries much differently than they did then. While it might seem like players are injured more frequently now, I think it’s really just a better understanding of those injuries that leads to such a perception.

It’s said that the best trades help both teams, but when a trade is made that looks lopsided, how soon is too soon to say that one team “won” the deal? If a team makes the playoffs as a result of the trade does that count or should you wait until the last prospect has shown what they can do? – Michael Engel, Kings of Kauffman

Ricky Nolasco was just traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers, but when can we evaluate the deal and determine which side “won”? (Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

I think there are a couple of different ways that this can be answered and it all boils down to what the goal of the trade was. What each team is trying to accomplish in a deal is often different, so it becomes a challenge to determine a clear cut “winner” at times. Let me try to explain.

We’ll take the recent Ricky Nolasco deal as a prime example. Miami was clearly looking to simply dump his remaining salary in this deal. The payroll savings were far more crucial to them than the players that they received in return from the Dodgers. In a way, we can already say that Miami “won” the deal because they accomplished this goal. Anything that they get – be it now or down the road – from the three players acquired in the deal is simply a bonus. On the flip side, the Dodgers clearly feel that Nolasco improves their starting rotation right now and they hope that he helps them reach the postseason. We can’t really grade their end of the deal in the immediate because their goals here dictate so.

Let’s take it one step further. If the Dodgers make the playoffs because of Nolasco’s contributions, does that mean we suddenly view the trade as a win for them? The answer is kind of yes and no. Yes, because they accomplished their “goal” or reaching the postseason and Nolasco was a clear contributor to that accomplishment. No, because there’s really no way of proving that the sole (or main) reason they made the playoffs is because of Nolasco. Unless he goes on an incredible run (i.e. wins every start over the remainder of the season) there’s no real way to quantify how much of the team’s success is because of him. He’s a starter, after all, and only pitches every fifth day. The team still has to win on days he doesn’t pitch so for the Dodgers to reach the playoffs it’d really be because of a team effort and not solely because of the addition of Nolasco.

As for waiting until the last prospect in the deal has shown what they can do, that too is an undefined area. Take the three pitchers that Miami received for Nolasco. Two of them – Steven Ames and Josh Wall – are at Triple-A and are arguably close to being MLB-ready. The third, Angel Sanchez, has yet to pitch above High-A. At best he’s three or four years away from reaching the Major Leagues. Does that suggest that we have to wait three or four years until we can properly evaluate this deal? Again the answer is kind of a yes and no. Yes, we’d have to wait because of the overall long term impact that the deal has on each side. In fact, we’d really have to wait until each player’s tenure with the receiving organization is done before we can evaluate the deal on an overall long term standpoint. The no answer is more because it’s unrealistic to look at things from such a lengthy perspective. Plenty can change between now and then. These players could be dealt elsewhere. These pitchers could flame out in the minor leagues, never reaching Miami or the Majors. They could also all develop into solid pieces of the Marlins roster for years to come. We have no way of knowing what the future will hold, so we can’t really say that waiting to evaluate a deal is the best course of action to determine who “won”.

Bottom line, there’s no real perfect answer here regarding when a trade can be evaluated to the point where it can be determined that one team “won” the trade and the other didn’t. It all boils down to perspective. Want to know who won right now? With this Nolasco deal one could argue that it’s the Marlins. Want to know who won at season’s end? We might have a different answer. Want to know who won this deal, looking back at it three years from now? We might have a different answer altogether.