Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 7/1/12

The rosters for next week’s All-Star game have been released, and two Pirates are on the list. That’s one more than we usually see before any replacements start coming in — but not not quite as many as we were hoping for this season.

Andrew McCutchen was a lock to make it. It’s pretty sad that he only finished 7th among NL outfielders in fan votes, but I’d have to think he’ll see plenty of game action next Wednesday. In fact, he may even sneak into the starting lineup anyway. Matt Kemp reportedly won’t play in the game, so manager Tony LaRussa will need a center fielder. Cutch wouldn’t be the next man in line based on the fan or player voting, but those are based strictly on outfielders, not positions in the outfield. He’s the only reserve that plays center field. Don’t count on this — LaRussa could move Melky Cabrera to CF (he’s played there in past seasons but not this year…in related news, how is Melky Cabrera a starter?!), but I’d have to think McCutchen starting is a legit possibility. Fans also did not elect an NL DH, so he could take that spot as well, although he’s obviously much better suited to play the field compared to a bunch of the other reserves.

Joel Hanrahan also made the squad for the second straight season. Don’t get me wrong, Joel has been very good this season and isn’t a bad choice by any means, but this is a pretty clear example of a closer getting too much attention. There are already a few other closers on the NL staff, including at least one (probably two) that would get the nod ahead of Joel in a potential save situation, so I don’t see the need to go after more closers instead of other arms that are more deserving. If you want a reliever suited for the typical All-Star game 1-inning situation rather than a starter that would be out of his element, how about Jason Grilli?  Grilli has a better ERA and WHIP than Joel (barely), has pitched more innings than Joel (barely), but has a much better strikeout rate (only Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, and LA’s Kenley Jansen have better K rates in all of the NL).

But hey, Hanrahan gets the saves so he gets the recognition. Again, not a knock on Joel, who has been excellent – but I feel bad for Grilli, who did just about all he possibly could have to get a nod. Other setup men have made it in the past (and not only because every team needed a rep), so that’s not really a good excuse.

James McDonald is the more notable snub, and I’d argue he’s also more deserving than Joel — and a few others on the staff. Several will point to St. Louis’ Lance Lynn as an unfair inclusion, but Lynn was actually a player’s choice (not his former manager LaRussa’s) and the player votes came in before Lynn started to collapse over the past few weeks. I would, however, point to a guy like Cole Hamels and start to wonder. McDonald has a significantly better ERA and WHIP than Hamels, although Hamels has the slight edge in K& BB peripherals (somehow I doubt those were the reasons he was chosen, though). J-Mac is leading the upstart Pirates, while Hamels pitches for the last-place Phillies (I love typing that). Hamels was not the only Phillie on the roster, so essentially, the only reason he’s on the team ahead of J-Mac is his “veteran status.” It’s a shame that kept McDonald off the roster after such a brilliant first half.

A.J. Burnett also had a bit of a case, but that mostly rested on his leadership, nine wins, and all the “if you take out that one start” scenarios…none of which hold a ton of weight, I guess.  Now, we could see McDonald and/or Burnett make it as replacements if anybody drops out, but J-Mac is scheduled to pitch Saturday and Burnett is scheduled for Sunday. That would make A.J. ineligible to pitch in the ASG, and McDonald would be limited if available at all. I highly doubt they’d be chosen as replacements for those reasons, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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