All-Star snubs and a look back at Sunday’s events
It’s very understandable to know many of you awoke on this 4th of July still upset about the fact that Tommy Hanson and Craig Kimbrel were among the most notable snubs during this year’s initial All-Star roster selection process.
Hanson leads the NL with a .193 opponent’s batting average allowed and ranks fourth in the senior circuit with a 2.62 ERA. Kimbrel has notched 10 more strikeouts than any other Major League reliever and his 24 saves is tied for the Major League high with three All-Star selections (Joel Hanrahan, Brian Wilson and Heath Bell) and a Rockies closer Huston Street, who will be at Turner Field tonight to begin a four-game series.
Both of these Braves hurlers had great credentials and if you ask Brian McCann Eric O’Flaherty should be considered an All-Star snub. Of course there were also outcries from the D-backs, whose case for Final Vote candidate Ian Kennedy was hurt with yesterday’s start, and the Pirates, whose case for outfielder Andrew McCutchen was discussed by manager Clint Hurdle this morning.
It’s fine to complain about these snubs. But don’t forget that last year, while Braves fans were enjoying Omar Infante’s selection others were doing what you were doing yesterday when you were screaming, “What in the Ryan Vogelsong is going on around here?”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was given nine selections to complete his National League roster and he used three of them on Giants’ pitchers – Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Vogelsong. While Lincecum and Cain helped him win the World Series last year, Bochy’s selection of Vogelsong provided this year’s All-Star selection a feel-good story for some.
Yeah, there will be plenty of people who might be happy to hear about how Vogelsong has gone from being a Phillies’ Minor League castoff to All-Star in a year. But there will also be plenty of fans in Atlanta and elsewhere who will remain outraged that this 33-year-old hurler, who pitched in Japan from 2007-09, benefited from the last of the three errors Brooks Conrad committed in Game 3 of last year’s National League Divison Series against the Giants.
OK, you’re right, there was no reason for me to bring up bad memories from last year’s postseason. Yeah, the Giants still might have won the Division Series even if the Braves had held on to win Game 3.
Regardless, Kimbrel and Hanson were both much more deserving All-Star selections than Vogelsong, who has gone 6-1 with a 2.26 ERA in the 13 starts he has made since entering the third inning of an April 22 game against the Braves as a long reliever.
There’s a good chance Vogelsong will only be utilized if necessary in an extra-inning situation. But this doesn’t diminish the disappointment felt by Hanson, Kimbrel or any other NL pitcher who felt they were more deserving.
As we discuss these snubs, there’s seemingly a good chance that either Hanson or Kimbrel will end up being a part of this year’s All-Star team. Roster spots could open up courtesy of injury. There’s also the cases of Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels and Cain, who will not be allowed to pitch in the All-Star Game if they make their scheduled starts Sunday.
Because Hamels was selected via the player’s ballot, a roster void created by his inability to pitch would be filled by Pirates right-hander Kevin Correia, who was the first player not to make the cut via the player’s ballot.
As long as Cain makes his scheduled start Sunday, there is seemingly a good chance his roster spot will be filled by one of the Braves. Because there are already plenty of starters on the roster, I’m going to guess the nod would go to Kimbrel.
Looking back: Once Scott Proctor allowed the decisive two-run, seventh-inning homer in yesterday’s loss to the Orioles it was easy to second guess manager Fredi Gonzalez’s decision to go with Proctor. There is definitely a need to provide more rest for Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and even Scott Linebrink.
But the decision not to use any of these relievers was not what should have stirred debate. The question was why was Proctor utilized instead of Cory Gearrin, who just happened to retire the only two batters he faced while cleaning up Proctor’s eighth-inning mess.
Proctor worked just five full innings while posting 4.70 ERA in 11 June appearances. Maybe the Braves felt like they owed the veteran another chance to prove himself before giving Gearrin a shot to preserve their one-run seventh-inning lead. That’s all part of the game. I mean, where would the Giants be if they hadn’t at least given Vogelsong a chance, right?
If nothing else, yesterday’s game provided more reason to believe the Braves will attempt to at least acquire a reliever before the deadline. I wouldn’t say this is a pressing need. But you can’t let July 31 pass simply assuming Peter Moylan and Kris Medlen are going to return from the long absences and be key contributors in the bullpen. There is seemingly a need to create some insurance.
QUICK HITS: This is my 11th season covering the Braves and I’ve never seen any umpire other than Bob Davidson infuriate Chipper Jones like Minor League umpire Mark Ripperger did yesterday. You’ve all likely seen Jones’ comments that may lead to a fine. But what shouldn’t be forgotten is the fact that he proved to be the better man by simply walking away as Ripperger was staring him down after calling the last strike of the game…Martin Prado was not ready to begin his Minor League rehab assignment today. But if he feels stronger today and can begin it by tomorrow, I think there’s still a chance he could be activated for at least the final portion of this weekend’s series in Philadelphia.