A word here about the All-Star Game: I don’t much care about it, and I don’t get upset when Some Deserving Player doesn’t make the roster despite having had a good half-season. Because — OK, you’ve got me going now — who says one half-season defines an All-Star?
And why is it always the first half of a baseball season that counts? What about a guy who had a great second half of last season? Why should he get snubbed? Why wasn’t Kelly Johnson, who hit .308 over the second half of 2008, given an All-Star nod this summer? Huh? Huh?
OK, I exaggerate. But Keith Law of Scouts Inc. is one of those folks who takes the All-Star Game seriously. Writing for ESPN.com’s Insiders, he believes two Braves were given the royal scam (Steely Dan reference) this time. Guess which two.
You got it. Kelly Johnson and Greg Norton.
No, I’m kidding. Law plumps for Jair Jurrjens and Javier — he calls him “Javy” — Vazquez. (Link requires registration.) He also believes Brian McCann should be the National League’s starting catcher. He also believes Chipper Jones should replace the injured Carlos Beltran on the NL roster. (Yes, I’m aware Chipper plays third base and Beltran plays center field. I’m just the messenger here.)
Vazquez, Law writes, should have made the team over St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin. Law’s rationale:
“Ryan Franklin throws 32 decent and hit-lucky innings and takes the spot of Javy Vazquez, who ranks ninth in the NL in ERA and second in strikeouts and has thrown more than three times as many innings as Franklin — and unlike Franklin, who has never been anything better than a fifth starter or mediocre middle reliever, Vazquez has proven before he can pitch at a high level.
“(Speaking of Franklin, what is the lesson here? Using steroids is OK? [Franklin was suspended 10 games in 2005.] Will we see editorials questioning the refusal to condemn Franklin, or urging fans to boo him next Tuesday?)”
Not from me, Mr. Law. See, I don’t really care. Except about Kelly Johnson, who got jobbed, I say! Jobbed!
Writing for SI.com, John Manuel of Baseball America ranks Braves prospect Jason Heyward 10th on his 10-man list of — hyphen alert! — possible high-impact second-half call-ups. But Manuel undercuts his case, sort of:
“[Heyward] was a non-roster invitee to big-league camp this spring, hanging around through mid-March, and just got promoted to Double-A. It would be a rush job to bring his premium bat speed and right-field tools to the majors to replace Francoeur, but the National League East is wide open, and a jolt from a big bat like Heyward’s could separate Atlanta from the pack.”
I’m going to disagree on this one. Heyward just moved from Class A Myrtle Beach to Class AA Mississippi, and he’s having a good-but-not-scorching season. (MLB.com has his updated numbers.) He could arrive as a September promotion, but I don’t think anyone in the Braves’ organization is sitting around thinking, “If we promote Heyward, we’ll catch Philly for sure.” I think they’re thinking, “Let’s not pull a Joey Devine and rush this guy.”
Both Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci of SI.com rate Tommy Hanson as the NL’s second-best rookie behind St. Louis outfielder Colby Rasmus. Here’s Heyman’s take, and here’s Verducci’s. Note that Verducci writes: “The award may wind up with Hanson, but Rasmus has the edge as an everyday outfielder who has been in the bigs all year.”
And this from Heyman: “[Hanson is] off to a 4-0 start. With Jair Jurrjens he gives the Braves a good shot to steal the division.”
And let’s not forget Javy Vazquez, shall we?