I want to slap Terry FranconaJuly 6, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Baseball, Rays | 9 Comments
Before this season, being a fan of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was difficult. Since they were consistently one of the worst teams in baseball, they seldom had players who were worthy of being called All Stars. In most years, the only reason that they even had a player in the All Star game was because of the rule that every team must have at least one. Here are their past All Stars:
- 1998: Rolando Arrojo
- 1999: Roberto Hernandez
- 2000: Fred McGriff
- 2001: Greg Vaughn
- 2002: Randy Winn
- 2003: Lance Carter
- 2004: Danys Baez
- 2005: Carl Crawford
- 2006: Scott Kazmir
- 2007: Carl Crawford
Only McGriff, Crawford, and Kazmir were truly worthy All Stars. For years, Tampa Bay fans longed for the day when they would be good enough to have more than one representative in the All Star game. Since the Rays are off to an unbelievable start and currently have the best record in the Major Leagues, I felt confident that they would have more than one All Star this year, and hopefully three. I believed that Evan Longoria, Scott Kazmir, and Dioner Navarro were the most deserving.
This afternoon, I excitedly checked MLB.com to find out who had been named to the American League All Star team. I was relieved to see that both Kazmir and Navarro had made the All Star team, but I was baffled that I did not see Evan Longoria’s name on the list. After all, Evan is off to the best start of any rookie in MLB and he starred in this week’s sweep of the Red Sox, who are managed by Terry Francona, the man whose job it was to fill out the All Star roster. Check out his numbers:
.281 BA, .353 OBP, .537 SLG, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB.
And on top of that, he has played stellar, Gold Glove-caliber defense. Most Rays fans would tell you that he is the team MVP so far. All of this is from a 22-year old rookie.
If Longoria was left off the team, I thought, it must have been because there were other players having even better seasons, or possibly because some struggling team needed to have at least one representative, leaving no room for him. But when I looked at the rest of the A.L. roster, I was sickened. Here are the two least worthy All Stars:
Joe Crede, 3B, Chicago White Sox
.261 BA, .338 OBP, .478 SLG, 15 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB.
As you can see, Crede is behind Longoria in every statistical category. He is also 30 and has a long history of being a very mediocre player. How could anyone in their right mind possibly choose Crede to be an All Star over Longoria? Could it be because Francona was desperate to find at least one White Sox player to pick? Nope; Carlos Quentin also made the team. It doesn’t make any sense, but one player who made it makes far less sense:
Jason Varitek, C, Boston Red Sox
.219 BA, .301 OBP, .360 SLG, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB.
The Jason Varitek selection is especially disgusting. Look at those stats. Not only is he not All Star-worthy, but I’d even question whether he deserves to start for his own team! There are two deserving catchers on the A.L. roster in Joe Mauer and Dioner Navarro. Why is it necessary to have three? And even if three are needed, pretty much every other starting catcher in the A.L. is more deserving than Varitek. He should have been left off the roster so that Longoria could have made it.
Keep in mind that there are six other Red Sox players on the All Star team. Varitek is the seventh. Terry Francona clearly chose Varitek because he and the entire Red Sox organization arrogantly believe that their team is more important than any other team in baseball. It truly sickens me. I am sure that the vast majority of baseball fans would rather see a young phenom like Evan Longoria in the All Star game than an over-the-hill scrub like Jason Varitek.
Update: OK, I spoke a little too soon. It seems that Varitek was voted in on the players ballot and Francona actually named Navarro to the team. But I still don’t like Francona and I do believe that the whole Red Sox organization and their “Nation” really do “arrogantly believe that their team is more important than any other team in baseball”, so I stand by that comment. Still, I’d love to know what players voted for Varitek; that is just awful.