The MLB ASG quandry
Isn't it funny how the All-Star rosters' pitchers are now comprised of distinctly, starter/closer roles?
There are not even setup men (as there were a few years back). It's simply, get through 7 innings with gas from starters then turn the game over to the experts in the 8th.
I'm actually surprised that there are not a couple of middle relief guys picked by the manager- especially now that the game has World Series HFA at stake. You'd think, if this game really meant something the managers would play it like a "real" game and make the ASG roster selections accordingly. In other words, why not string your pitchers together like you would in any real game?
Now, I know there is an argument for voting in- and managers selecting- worthy starting pitchers. After all, aren't the starters the eye candy the fans want to see? I mean, really, after the 7th inning who wants to see the likes of Akinori Otsuka, followed by Scot Shields, Hideki Okajima, all to lead up to, say, J.J. Putz and Jonathan Papelbon closing it out? Actually, I would, and it's why I am all for Okajima or Pat Neshek winning the "Final Vote" on MLB.com for the last ASG roster spot.
I mean, seriously, these guys are pitching in their defined roles (7th inning/8th inning setup men backed up by "hard/high cheese" closers). You want to win this game? Do it right, with the right guys instead of a bunch of starters who are not used to warming up in-game and trying to gear up to throw 95 MPH gas every pitch for 1 IP only.
You may recall last year's ASG at one point in between the 1st and 2nd innings and they cut to a recorded feed from the NL dugout. Bronson Arroyo was discussing with NL starter Brad Penny as to how he was throwing 100 MPH gas right out of the gate. Arroyo alluded several times to the fact that he takes a couple of innings before he lets it fly at top speed (hmm, why did the Red Sox get rid of him again?). Why would he do that?
Because starters prepare in a completely different way than relievers. Look at the way converted bullpen guys (or starters rehabbing) get "stretched out" over the course of several games/weeks. It builds arm strength and endurance. A starter cannot limber up and be prepared to throw the way a reliever does. The physical and mental preparation are completely different. Then coming into a game, a reliever is already warmed up and their arm has been trained to go balls to the wall for an inning. A starter's arm "knows" it will get a little break-in time (look at Arroyo's comments to Penny).
And it can be argued that Arroyo is right because Penny was definitely not the same pitcher after the All Star break that he was before it last year. Look at his Pre-ASG and Post-ASG stats:
Hell, if I am Tony LaRusa, I throw Penny out there ASAP simply to knock the Dodgers rotation out of whack should they face each other come October. Of course, that's saying either the Cardinals or Dodgers crank it up in the second half, but hey, you never know. And All-Star Game "Manager Monkey Wrenching" should be a post/argument all its own.
So why screw it up with World Series HFA on the line? Because, at the end of the day, the All-Star Game is not about HFA, it's about TV and revenue and the "star" appeal of the starters. Bud Selig is a moron for attaching such a game changing effect to an exhibition, yes. But if you are going to adhere to that policy, you might as well do it the right way- with pitchers who know their roles.
Posted by Jingoist at 10:16 AM