Thursday, July 28, 2005

3000K Maddux

People would be disappointed if I didn’t use this slice of history to wax lyrical about Greg Maddux.

Not only has he recorded his 3000th K but of the thirteen only one other player has recorded 3000K with less than 1000 walks and Ferguson Jenkins only just classifies by 3 (997) whereas Maddux has done it comfortably with 106 to play with. Adding that to his 313 wins, a .634 winning percentage and 17 consecutive years of 15+ wins and you have a pretty decent resumé for being one of the true all time greats and possibly the best of a generation (not that he‘d bring attention to any of this).

The most remarkable thing about Maddux is that he has notched up 3000 K’s having never been a hard thrower and having never been someone who has games where he strikes out a tonne (he has 191 fewer ten strikeout games than Nolan Ryan which is a lot). The real key to him getting to this plateau is the same thing that has gotten him all those wins; consistency. Like day follows night you know what Greg Maddux will give you and while that might not mean the same thing now as it did in his untouchable days in the 90’s he still finds a way to do the job.

I could go on forever about why I consider him the best pitcher I’ve had the opportunity to watch and as good as anyone in the live ball era. In these days of ‘scout by radar gun’ and the ever growing number of pitchers who simply go up there looking to blow their fastball by hitters its just great to see a guy with just a high 80’s fastball carve hitters up without relying on stuff but relying on intelligence and guile. Greg Maddux makes baseball about skill and craft rather than muscle and testosterone.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Rest of the Year

10 Mo Rivera’s ERA going down.

9 Junior Griffey playing 140+ games for the first time in way too long.

8 Atlanta failing to extend their streak of consecutive division titles but making it to The Series.

7 Adam Dunn challenging his own special record.

6 The Yankees failing to make the playoffs after making some dumb moves at the deadline that don‘t address any of their problems.

5 The ChiSox holding onto the AL Central just beating out the Indians who will finally score some runs for Millwood and Westbrook (is there a less fortunate pitcher in baseball today?).

4 The Angels - They’ve been coasting so far and should wrap up their division in double quick time before they really start to pick it up going into the playoffs. Ominous.

3 Greg Maddux becoming just the second guy to strikeout 3000 while walking less than 1000. Oh, and another year with at least 15 wins.

2 The emergence of several young studs - Pitchers Justin Verlander and Zach Duke have been unleashed on the league and will lay the foundations for great careers. Rickie Weeks is doing it all and Grady Sizemore looks set for Rookie of the Year honours.

1 Delmon Young

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rafi Palmeiro - 3000 / 500

Rafael Palmeiro has joined a truly elite group of players that includes Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Hank Aaron to become the fourth player ever to have both 3000 hits and 500 homeruns.
It seems hard to believe that a guy like Palmeiro who most people associate more with Viagra than with being a future Hall of Famer could get into such illustrious company and many will probably bring up that most of his career has been spent in homerun havens in Texas and Baltimore but however you look at it, this is an immense achievement and perhaps its time we started re-evaluating where Rafi sits amongst the pantheon of first basemen to have ever played this game.
Could he be the answer to the qusetion of who is the greatest first baseman of all time not called Lou Gehrig? Possibly not, but he should be having his name thrown into the discussion even though he robbed David Segui of a Gold Glove in '99.
Some doubted that he would make The Hall but I think this really cements his place so revel in seeing this guy finish out his career and salute a man who has done as much for the game as he has for men with unspoken problems everywhere.

The MLB Spurious Awards

Well, we’re half way through the season and although we couldn’t get Billy Crystal, we’re still going to go ahead with the first ever First Half Spurious Awards.
I have enlisted the help (if it can really be called that) of a couple of old friends who I worked with on the first ever British based baseball fan site (how’s that for alliteration) including one of the luminaries who put it together (Chris C) and Neil M who is one of the guys responsible for the 3,079 Miles to Fenway, 3,448 miles to Yankee Stadium blog (sadly the Yankee fan part of that duo) and might also be considered my arch-nemesis in most matters baseball.
We agreed on some things, were nowhere near agreeing on others but hey, we’re not sabretricians, we’re just fans and what would fandom be like if we didn’t disagree on...well…everything.
Its always interesting to see how certain people who follow certain teams tend to skew their opinions.

* Due to formatting issues which I'm probably not smart enough to sort out Neils nominations will be in blue, Chris in red and mine will be purple (I really need to learn how to do these things properly)
AL MVP : Brian Roberts, Bal; Manny Ramirez, Bos; Manny Ramirez, Bos
NL MVP : Albert Pujols, StL; Derrek Lee, ChC; Albert Pujols, Stl
AL Cy Award : Mariano Rivera, NYY Mark Buerhle, ChW Roy Halladay, Tor
NL Cy Award : Roger Clemens, Hou; Dontrelle Willis, Fla; Dontrelle Willis, Fla
AL Rookie Award : Chien-Ming Wang, NYY; Grady Sizemore, Cle; Grady Sizemore, Cle
NL Rookie Award : Jason Ellison, SF; Half the Braves line-up, Atl; Willy Taveras, Hou
AL Eck Award: Mariano Rivera, NYY; Mariano Rivera, NYY; Mariano Rivera, NYY
NL Eck Award : Jason Isringhausen, StL; Chad Cordero, Was; Brad Lidge, Hou
The Where the bloody hell did he
come from award for excellence out
of nowhere : Brian Roberts, Bal; Brian Roberts, Bal; Derrick Turnbow, Mil
The Award for a guy who probably
won't win any other award but deserves
something : Jesse Crain, Min; Bobby Abreu, Phi; Jesse Crain, Min
The Too Good For His Team Award : Carlos Lee, Mil; Jorge Cantu, TB; Rich Harden, Oak
Best Team : St Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Chicago White Sox
Most Improved Team : Washington Nationals, Washington Nationals, Washington Nationals

The picks that stand out for me have to be Wang over Sizemore for the AL Rookie and Clemens over Willis for the Cy as Neil is a Yankee fan and also chairman of the ‘We Love Roger Clemens No Matter How Much of a Non-Team Player he is Committee’. Thankfully in both instances Chris had more sense but then he did go for Bobby Abreu over Crain in the ‘Unlikely to Win Any Awards’ award but then Phils fans always seem to feel their guys get overlooked.
All in all it’s the usual suspects that everyone knows about (although I already rated Brian Roberts which is why Tunbow gets a mention) with a few real splits in opinion. The AL Cy had three good names thrown into the hat that are all tough to really argue with, similarly with the NL Eck (much catchier I feel than the Rolaids Award).
I do feel for Carlos Lee being thrown into the Too Good For His Team category or, to be more accurate, The Brewers who I feel are a better team than Neil is giving them credit for and I might be doing the same for Oakland but then again, this is my blog and I’m allowed to do such things.
The NL Rookie was an interesting one with Neil admitting he had ‘no idea’ who to go for and I must admit there really is no standout first year guy (that I know of) and Chris might have made the best pick by nominating half the Braves roster.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

MLB Mid-Season Report

AL East - I’ll start off by saying that Tampa will be competing next year rather than this and the only thing to look forward to in Tropicana is when the young guys start coming up after they deal their more seasoned players (none of which is as good as Delmon)…Boston would be counting down their magic number right now if their pen hadn’t been so bad and Foulke’s injury doesn’t help things. Watch Theo go out and get some arms very soon and The Sox should cruise into the post-season and Manny could get that MVP nod (he really is smokin‘ right now…The Orioles are levelling off but Lee Mazilli has done a great job and that infield is awesome. They have a great chance to hold onto the second spot in this division…watch out for Palmeiro‘s 3000th hit (he might have robbed David Segui of a Gold Glove but you can‘t deny the rest of this guys career) …Well, I’ve already gone on the record by saying the Yanks won’t make the playoffs and until they get some speed or their pitching picks it up big time, they will continue to run hot and cold and that’s not good enough in that town…Toronto are brewing some nice players this year and have progressed nicely (watch Russ Adams now that he’s batting leadoff) but losing Halladay for a month will hurt. He has been the best in the AL so far.

AL Central - The White Sox are a great team. Speed, defence, power, great rotation, great bullpen, what else is there? They also have some guys they can deal to make themselves stronger and some nice looking prospects in their minors. If they continue being smart they could win it all…Minnesota haven’t been as good as many expected with Morneau seemingly needing to be hurt by someone in order for him to really crank it up and Santana lacking some of the sharpness of last year. Jesse Crain continues to make me look like a genius with his performances but this is a team that could click at any time and go deep into October but they need to get going soon…Cleveland were struggling early but now their hitters are coming through (can someone give some kudos to Hafner) they are definitely in the race and now Wickman is healthy (for now) that pen is strong…Detroit probably don’t have enough in the tank this year to mix it up in the race for the playoffs but they can definitely be big spoilers with Ordonez back, Shelton looking like he could be a great hitter for a good few years and Jeremy Bonderman really emerging as a true ace. Their big problem could be Percival who is definitely on the decline and they might be wishing they kept Urbina…KC are bad, real bad and I fear for Zack Greinke’s future (BE STRONG YOUNG MAN!!)

AL West - Anaheim (I’ll call them Anaheim until they get their name to something that’s less of a mouthful) haven’t really got it going on all cylinders but they still have all they need to beat anyone in the league and their rotation has been in good hands especially Colon who has been dominant for much of the year…Texas have been given some real fight in their rotation from Kenny Rogers (see what I did there) who is having a career year but its that infield lead by Mark Teixeira and that pen that is driving them…Oakland have been hot recently and have gotten over .500 but I still don’t know how they expect to win consistently with that offence, their pitching is good but not THAT good…Seattle are blooding some young’uns but their pitching has gotten very ordinary over the last couple of years. Not even Pat Borders can save their season…Say Adrian Beltre’s name then look about you. If they aren’t laughing then they’re probably a Mariner fan.

NL East - I’m still waiting for the wheels to fall off The Nationals but I’m also enjoying watching Livan Hernandez pitch, he deserved the Cy more than Clemens last year (one of a few) and is having a good run at it this year…I still don’t like Nick Johnson and I don’t care what anyone says…There are two reasons why Andruw Jones is playing centerfield. First his defence is legendary out there and secondly he is so hot that if anyone could stand near him they would burst into flames…Atlanta have done a great job of bringing in their youngsters to patch up the team through injuries and once they get their big starters back it could be another division title….Florida should be scoring more runs than they are, Pierre and Lowell have been almost non-entities this year and that line-up is stacked but if they want to really compete they need Beckett to be healthy, Penny to be consistent and Mota to stop pouting…I’m fed up with the Phillies, I’ve tabbed them to be among the best in the league the last two years and they have made me look like a fool. What they’ve got isn’t working but in Utley, Rollins and Howard (damn he takes some vicious cuts) they have the building blocks of a contender but they also have some good players who will be passed their prime when those youngsters peak so I say trade Wagner. Trade Thome. Trade Lieberthal and eat his salary. Trade Abreu while his stock is sky high...The Mets ran into Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road and told her how they’d be leading The East if only they had a bullpen…I’m still looking for Cliff Floyd in The All Star Game but I might have to look for him in MVP voting…this division is stupidly tight.

NL Central - The Cards are winning this division at a canter and its hard to see who will challenge them. This could be the first of many MVP seasons for Pujols…The Cubs define the ‘if they stay healthy’ maxim better than anyone. Wood and Prior would win 30 games each if they avoided the DL for a year (I can say that because it will never happen). Maddux could win 15 games AGAIN (do you people realise how amazing a career this guy has had?!?!) but it will be tight…Derrek Lee won’t win the triple crown but he’s still had a truly amazing season so far…Houston have done so well to be as good as they have been and it really is testament to their pitching with Clemens and Oswalt continuing to be strong and Lidge is just filthy in the pen (they should ban that guy as he is just unfair). Taveras has done a fine job at the top of the order and Berkman’s return has been key but they really don’t have many bullets in that order, even in Ten-Run Field (I know its not Enron any more but I love that name)… Milwaukee is such a fun team this year with Carlos Lee leading those kids (including the heavily tooled Rickie Weeks) around the bases and Sheets and Doug Davies have given Turnbow (where did he come from?) enough leads to look good and there are more youngsters on the way...who will be at first next year for The Brewers? Fielder or Overbay?…Pittsburgh will be better in the second half especially if Zach Duke continues at his current pace and Oliver Perez got better as the weather got warmer but other than that there really isn’t much to look for in Pittsburgh…Cincinatti are well on their way to recording a bazillion K’s and there is no such number as a bazillion which says all you need to know about that line-up but they do score runs just not enough to help their pitching (they'd need Ruth and Aaron batting behind Rickey to do that).

NL West - Jake Peavy (I love that kid) has lead The Padres to the top of The West and no one else has come close to them. This is their division unless something drastic happens…Right now Arizona have gotten the better out of the Randy Johnson deal but their bats have cooled off after an early run and they won’t catch San D…I still don’t rate DePodesta as a GM, he has taken apart a winning team built on pitching and defence and has gone to a more offensive based scheme and now they just don’t seem to have the same cohesion. Admittedly they’ve had injury problems but even with the likes of Gagne I’m not sure they’d be good enough but you can bet he‘ll panic again at the deadline…What happens when you lose a seven time MVP and your best pitcher doesn’t perform? You become The Giants. They are old and full of holes and the big question is will/can they shift the oldies for prospects?…..What happens when your hot rookie gets injured and is out for the year and your only other hitter worth mentioning is playing nowhere near what you’d expect and you play in Coors? You stink up the joint...We should all be amazed how well Jeff Francis is doing in his rookie year.

Monday, July 11, 2005

10 Reasons to Like The All Star Game

10 If they replay footage of the Homerun Derby a couple of years back in Fenway, that can‘t be a bad thing.

9 We all like complaining (or should that be debating?) about who gets in and who is left out.

8 Good players on bad teams get a chance to play in the spotlight.

7 It’s the ‘best’ players in the world (except for the Cubans) all on the same field at the same time.

6 It marks out generations of great ball players - You can look back at previous All Star teams and imagine just how special those years were.

5 A full house in Detroit doesn’t happen often.

4 It’s the one time in the year when baseballs surly millionaires can smile on the field when they are robbed by a moment of brilliance.

3 Its so nice to watch a game and not care enough about it to not risk a coronary.

2 It gives Bud Selig another thing to tinker with and gimmick to death.

1 Its MLB’s big PR showcase for its talent around the world.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Futures Game

I know its short notice but tonight is one of those events that I look forward to each year and thats The Futures Game. Unlike the big league All Star Game these guys always seem to have something to prove rather than feeling that its just good enough to show up. Its also free from Bud Selig and his gimmick laden tom-foolery (the Home Run Derby is going to be so crappy this year, I mean Hee Seop Choi is competing and he has no place at an All Star event).
Anywho, heres some of the guys I'm looking forward to seeing :

US Future Stars

Thomas Diamond, Pitcher, Round Rock (Texas Rangers AA) 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 11K, 5BB, 11.0 innings
For ages The Rangers have had great hitting but average to below average pitching and this guy could well change all that. He's still a couple of years away from the big club but he has butchered The California League (.191 opponents average, 101k in 81 1/3 innings) and is presently averaging a strikeout an inning in the Texas League.

Justin Verlander, Pitcher, Erie (Detroit Tigers AA) 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 18K, 3BB, 15.0 innings
Verlander recently made a brief appearance in Detroit and without his best stuff he still managed to put together a solid performance after a nerve ridden first inning.
This guy has some seriously nasty stuff and is well capable of getting into the high-90's with his fastball and its definately too much for anyone he's faced in the minors and at the moment The Eastern League is hitting .098 which reads like a typo but it really is .098.
He could be special.

Marcus Sanders, Shortstop, Augusta (San Francisco Giants A) .296, 56 runs, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 40 steals
Here's an interesting quote from Giants farm director Jack Hiatt, "He's a lot like Rickey Henderson or Bobby Bonds, a guy who used to lead off and hit with power." How can you not get excited about a guy with those sort of expectations? It might be tough on the guy but he's got the speed and a good approach at the plate and he's growing into his power.

Chris Young, Outfielder, Birmingham (Chicago White Sox AA) .265, 58 runs, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 15 steals
Chris Young is a guy who wasn't really expected to much in his career but is having a monster year for The Barons racking up homeruns, RBI, stolen bases and strikeouts. The K's are the only thing thats really holding him back at this point but an increased number of walks has seen his OBP get to a respectable level but he's much like Dallas McPherson in the sense that he can be highly productive despite his average.

Delmon Young, Outfielder, Montgomery (Tampa Bay Devil Rays AA) .333, 58 runs, 19 HR, 69 RBI, 24 steals
How's Delmon doing? Just fine. He's among the leaders in practically every offensive catergory and this year that includes steals. This guy is a machine and might already be the best hitter in the entire organisation and that includes the guys with the big club.
Tampa are reluctant to rush him but you have to wonder how long they will allow him to molest minor league pitchers instead of putting him to work in The Bigs because its hard to see him getting a lot better whilst he's playing at this level. This guy will be a star.

World Future Stars

Francisco Liriano, Pitcher, Rochester (Minnesota Twins AAA) 2-0, 3.46 ERA, 32K, 8BB, 26.0 innings
He's had shoulder problems that have hindered his progress but its been a year and a half since the last problem so this might be his chance to start making some big strides.
He can get the gun up into the mid-90's but has developed effective off-speed stuff that he is comfortable throwing at any time so it really is the time to see if he can do it or not.

Yusmeiro Petit, Pitcher, Binghamton (New York Mets AA) 3-2, 2.97, 75K, 10BB, 66 2/3 innings
This is the sort of guy I always like to see pitch. He doesn't light up the radar gun (he can barely hit 90) but he finds a way to be effective and get results. Its always tougher for guys like that to have sustained success at the big league level but there are a lot of teams making inquiries about him that obviously believe he can do it.

Kendry Morales, First Baseman, Arkansas (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim AA) .256, 8 runs, 4 HR, 18 RBI
A 22 year old Cuban defector (probably means he's 30), Morales had a few problems getting his visa sorted in time for the start of the season but since he started he has shown power and discipline from both sides of the plate and great hands both with a bat and in the field. In short, he has looked fantastic and he's still getting used to life in The States.
Casey Kotchman must be wondering what happened as he's gone from a top prospect to someone wondering where he's going to end up because between Erstad and Morales he has nowhere to really go in this organisation.

Hanley Ramirez, Shortstop, Portland (Boston Red Sox AA) .276, 47 runs, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 18 steals
Ramirez already has the ability to be a plus shortstop at the big league level and his bat isn't far behind.
He has a decent combination of speed and power and should hit for average and the only real problem is that he's got Edgar Renteria in his position with the big club so talk has started circulating that he might be shifted to another position before too long but whatever happens you have to like this kids future.

Hernan Iribarren, Second Baseman, West Virginia (Milwaukee A) .314, 48 runs, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 29 steals
The Brewers are talking about how this guy will fill out and develop plus power. He already has good speed and instincts on the basepaths. Of course he hit .439 in The Arizona League last year which is the second highest in league history which isn't bad I guess.
Its kinda scary what you hear about where this guy could end up and even scarier when you consider that The Brewers have just uncorked a dose of Rickie Weeks on the big league team and if they could combine these two somehow with some of the other guys in their system then this could be a great team in a few years time.

Friday, July 08, 2005

London 2012

Well, where to start?

Firstly I would like to thank the Olympic committee for giving London the Olympics and aiding our mayor in his plot to remove all the riff raff from this great city by giving him to impetus to remove many people from their homes with enough money to enable them to not move anywhere else in London, not that it matters as many of the local businesses are being 'relocated' (or is that re-moved?) so they likely wouldn't have the jobs to keep them living their anyway. Hooray for escalating property prices....or something like that.

Anyway, The Olympic Games are on their way to London and one saving grace will be the increased exposure of baseball which has the potential to lift a growing marginal sport into a more prominent position in the UK subconscience. At least thats what we in the British baseballing community thought.

The IOC have decided to pull baseball and softball from the Olympic schedule for 2012 which pisses me off (it might upset the BBF too but they won't say anything to anyone in a way that we'll hear it). It will also piss off the Cubans and you can be sure that Jose Ramon Fernandez (the president of the Cuban Olympic Committee) will be most vociferous in any attempt to reinstate baseball by 2016 but even that won't help the British.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

10 Reasons to Hate The All Star Game

10. Mike Piazza - I'm not saying I want to throw a splintered bat head at him but theres something not right about that guy.
9. This time it counts - Its so satisfying to know that an exhibition game involving a bunch of players who will not even be involved in the playoffs let alone the actual World Series will get to decide who gets homefield advantage.
8. Its on a Tuesday - Why Tuesday? To avoid conflicting with wrestling or something?
7. Each team has to have at least one representative - Why not just have the best players especially now these games 'count'? Would anyone miss Brian Fuentes?
6. Lets face it, more often than not the game is boring.
5. The increasingly annoying player intros that last a week - God I hope they don't trapse out their kids again.
4. Don't the US Airforce have better things to do than buzz a ballpark?
3. Do we really want our best players getting injured mid-season?
2. The ballot box stuffing by certain teams fans.
1. Does anyone really care who wins?

Monday, July 04, 2005

First Emery Boards Now This?

The folks in Korea were shocked when top KBO pitcher Park Myung-Hwan's hat fell off during his delivery and two iced cabbage leaves fell from his head.
His defence? The use of "Cabbage Therapy" helps him sweat less and enables him to focus more on hitters.
Park is 9-0 with a 2.26 ERA and 90 K's so maybe Cabbage Therapy can help others? Might be worth it but remember, if the umpire catches you then you run the risk of ejection or, even worse, the ridicule of baseball fans about the world. So in other words, it couldn't really do the Kansas City Royals any harm.

Who's In and Who's Out of the All Star Game

Well its that time again when the All Star line-ups are announced and fans everywhere are left to bitch and moan about why one guy is starting and why their guy isn’t even in the squad and in the spirit of this phenomenon (I am a fan after all) I wish to continue in this vein to honour my forebears.

I shall begin in the NL mainly because the AL side pretty much picked itself and the NL has one or two interesting picks particularly in the outfield where Beltran has once again shown how easy it is to make the All Star Game if you are a high profile guy in New York (of course Mike Piazza has become a master of this).

I may not be the biggest fan of Jim Edmonds (he wouldn’t play if there weren’t cameras at the game) but he’s had a good year and I can understand why he’s been picked but Carlos Lee and Andruw Jones (he’s not on fire with a capital ‘F’ he’s on fire with a capital ‘F’ ‘I’) are both having MVP type seasons and both are only on the bench but I guess the fans would rather have more familiar people. Thank God for Bobby Abreu getting in. Is he the best outfielder in baseball right now?

Cliff Floyd isn’t in the team?

Up the middle its nice to see David Eckstein get the start as he is someone who I thought didn’t have the allure to be an All Star but I’m glad to be wrong. Of course it helps that St Louis fans like to celebrate the guys who work hard for their team but in this instance I’ll forgive them even though I’d rather have Cesar Izturis there.

Jeff Kent is a guy who I can understand being selected as people love the long ball and there aren’t a lot of second basemen in the NL having great years (Luis Castillo has been nowhere near his best this year and has been picked as the reserve) but how about some love for the glove? Kent is only at second because....well I'm not sure why he plays second. Maybe he just likes the view from there.

Third base is interesting as you have the incumbent in Rolen once again getting the nod from the fans but its easy to make a case that both David Wright and Aramis Ramirez have been better and what I wouldn’t give to see Troy Glaus picked just so he could participate in the Homerun Derby. I suppose Wright will see plenty of these during his career anyway.

So lets get to the big debate which has been hovering around the All Star vote and that’s who should be the starter at first for the NL and Derrek Lee has won through even though Pujols is the best first baseman in baseball. Lee has had a great year leading the league in average (just ahead of Pujols) and up there in homeruns and RBI (like Pujols) and few are as good as anyone defensively at first (like….well Pujols is alright). I don’t think there is a team that would rather have Lee than Pujols and I would rather have Pujols starting for the NL All Stars.

As I said the AL team more or less picks itself with Varitek catching, Mark Teixeira at first (thankfully overtaking Tino ‘the one week wonder’ Martinez in the ballot), Brian ‘Brady Anderson in Disguise’ Roberts at second, Miguel Tejada at short (best player in baseball?) and A-Rod at third (I wanted Mora but then again I find A-Rod very disagreeable to put it very liberally). DH David Ortiz is big on talent and personality and exactly the sort of player the All Star Game is made for.

The outfield is a bit more interesting with Manny and Vlad obvious picks (Vlad + HR Derby = big time fun) but Johnny Damon has usurped Ichiro and as much as I like Damon, Ichiro is the most exciting guy in baseball and how he has missed out is beyond me.

No Cliff Floyd in the AL outfield either? Where is he? Will he be the mascot? He must be somewhere!