Billy Wagner has to be thinking, “What do I gotta do?”
And he’s not the only one.
I figured since the MLB All-Star game is next week, we could take a look at some of the guys who will (and won’t) head to the left coast for the Midsummer Classic and showcase their talent during their only break in the unnecessarily long baseball regular season.
Wagner’s name not being on the NL roster as a closer was a surprise, not only because both the National League and American League teams have a grand total 13 pitchers, each, but also because of the multitude of ways a player can actually be selected.
There’s fan voting, player voting, manager selection, another round of fan voting, and, finally, another round of manager selection to fill the gaps left by injury and guys who don’t feel like playing in the game.
In the midst of all that, Wagner hasn’t gotten one of the NL’s 13 pitcher slots.
He’s a sentimental pick (he’s already announced his retirement plans at the end of the season), he’s got the stats (5-0, 1.35 ERA, 17 saves, 52 strikeouts to only 12 walks) and he plays for a first-place team that somehow got a utility infielder on the NL roster.
Wagner still has a chance in the fan voting for the final spot, which continues into next week, but that will probably go to Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who was left off the roster despite being in the conversation for the NL MVP award. Still, Wagner’s name being added would go a long way in proving Atlanta really is “America’s Team.”
Well, at least Wagner likely gets a rest next week, which is nothing new for Omar Infante, whose 57 appearances this season somehow turned enough heads to get him a spot on the All-Star team.
I was under the impression that the All-Star game was supposed to be for, well, stars, and that not only should some of the players on the roster be stars, but all should be stars. Although I’m not sure what gave me that idea.
Infante made the team over Wagner and Troy Glaus and hasn’t even come close to being an everyday starter, let alone a star, since he was a Tiger in 2004. I’m sure he’s hoping the AL starts a lefty.
Infante’s selection to the All-Star game was the doing of Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel. Infante has played well against Philly this season (.357), and I guess Manuel’s selection of Omar is just more proof that managers and coaches don’t know a whole lot about what goes on outside their own program. They only know what happens to them. It’s a personal bias - kind of like when Appalachian State football coach Jerry Moore voted Georgia Southern No. 1 in the Southern Conference during the 2009 preseason.
Jason Heyward may or may not start the All-Star game due to his thumb injury, but it’s nice to know that he’s the youngest player to be selected to the team behind only Ken Griffey, Jr., who was the youngest ever when he made the team in 1990.
Martin Prado will be starting due to a Chase Utley injury, and Brian McCann and Tim Hudson round out the largest Braves representation in the All-Star game since 2003.
Wagner’s absence may be a result of the voters – fans, players and managers – not being able to justify six Braves on the team, but it’s hard to accept that when the addition of Infante somehow seemed to justify five.
Still, the Braves are well represented on the squad, and in my opinion, they’re only just starting to play like the talent-ridden team they are. If Jair Jurrjens can pitch in the second half of the season like Kenshin Kawakami couldn’t in the first (the “they’re not scoring runs for me” excuse only lasts so long) they could get some separation in the middle-heavy NL East.
There are plenty of other snubs and surprises on both the NL and AL All-Star teams to talk about (e’hem, Joey Votto), but I’ll just mention one – Stephen Strasburg.
I’ve actually heard folks wondering why he’s not on the NL team, and this is directed at them, not you.
Well, first of all, he’s a Washington National.
Second of all, he’s looked very, very average since his first two starts.
Third of all, he’s only played in six games. Ever.
The kid’s got plenty of time to become an ace, and even more time to make plenty of All-Star teams down the road.
One final shoutout goes to a second-time All-Star, Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who is easily the biggest Georgia Southern football fan in Major League Baseball.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.