Glavine fiasco latest installment in Braves' soap-opera year (cont.)
Pujols wins poll of big-league execs; Strasburg -- yes, Strasburg -- gets a vote
A two-year run of shortstops winning my annual survey of major league executives and scouts regarding which players they'd pick to start their team was halted when they overwhelmingly went with a safe choice, star Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, whose career is conjuring comparisons to Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, except that Pujols is slightly more consistent so far.
Hard to believe, but Pujols has finished in the Top 10 in batting average and slugging percentage in all eight of his seasons. What isn't hard to believe is that he was named on 17 of 20 ballots of big-league execs and scouts, won nine first-place votes and easily out-pointed the second-place finisher, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, 70 to 38, in the 5-4-3-2-1 scoring system for this question: Which five players would you pick to start your team?
One exec who picked Pujols said, "He's the total package, the consummate producer with character and leadership.''
The winners the previous two years were Mets shortstop Jose Reyes in 2007 and Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez last year. Reyes did not receive a single vote this time (though five other Mets did), while Ramirez tied with Twins catcher Joe Mauer for fourth with 26 points. Royals pitching sensation Zack Greinke was third (32 points).
Several executives and scouts loved the idea of taking very young players to start their team. Justin Upton was named on four ballots, Tim Lincecum on two, and David Price, Rick Porcello, Adam Jones and Fernando Martinez on one apiece. Speaking of Upton, the NL's Player of the Month for May, one executive said, "He oozes with talent. He's got a lot of Ken Griffey Jr. in him.''
While Upton is only in his third season, no one named had less experience than Stephen Strasburg, the San Diego State pitching phenom, who like Jones and Martinez received one fifth-place vote. The one executive who picked Strasburg noted, "He carries his velocity late into games.''
Around the majors
Miguel Tejada's name is coming up in trade talks. But some contending teams see him only as a third baseman, or a bat. There are criticisms of his hitting too -- "he's pulling off the ball,'' one scout said -- but he is hitting .350.
The Reds' Joey Votto is out with stress-related issues, but it hasn't come out what the issue is and very few seem to know. Votto is a very private person. Some are wondering whether the death of his father last year may be a factor. In any case I am starting to feel sorry for the Reds, who seem to have more injuries and ailments than anyone over the past decade. Good luck to Votto, as well.
The Rockies seem willing to talk trade about nearly every player on their team. They'd probably love to find someone to take Todd Helton's contract. How about the Giants, who'd like to see a little more power out of young Travis Ishikawa?
Rookie Edwin Maysonet is an impressive hitter for the Astros. He's at .382 after a superb spring training.
Drayton McLane tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff via email that he isn't trading star pitcher Roy Oswalt. Teams have been scouting him, and his name is certainly out there. But we've been here before. McLane famously killed a three-way trade involving Oswalt, the Mets and Orioles a few years back.
When the Mets went to Pittsburgh, they needed an outfielder. But by the time they left, it appears they need a shortstop, relief pitcher and perhaps a starter, too. Jose Reyes' hamstring tendon tear is a major blow. For now a diminished Alex Cora and full-strength Wilson Valdez will man the spot.
I did enjoy Carlos Beltran's rips of the Mets ("I'm embarrassed'' Beltran said) after he got up off his sick bed to hit a home run and double in the Mets' 11-6 defeat to the Pirates. Of course, with all the injuries, he's a lot better player than almost all his teammates. That could be the problem.
Randy Johnson actually seemed touched by his 300th victory, the big lug. He smiled broadly and hugged catcher Benjie Molina shortly after the 5-1 victory over Washington.
Classy move by Giants team president Larry Baer to travel to rainy Washington for Johnson's night (he was easily picked out in a crowd of hundreds). This is the Giants' way, apparently. All the top Giants people, including new owner Bill Neukom, came to New York for the presentation of the Cy Young award to Tim Lincecum.
Carlos Zambrano has now been fined by the league and his team within a week. Milton Bradley was right. He is on the "Bradley level.'' Zambrano's last indiscretion was missing the team flight.
Joe Girardi said he was "surprised'' and couldn't understand why A.J. Burnett received a six-game suspension. Could it have been for firing a ball at Nelson Cruz's head? Sorry Joe, that suspension was well deserved.
It's great to see the return of Yorvit Torrealba's 11-year-old boy after he was kidnapped earlier this week. Not to get political, but it's time that major leaguers move their families out of Venezuela. One of the favorite people I ever covered, Gus Polidor, was murdered there about a decade ago when some thug was trying to carjack him and Polidor knew his son was in the backseat.
We have another Twitter winner, as I have surpassed 5,000 followers (now just 195,000 behind Nick Swisher). I will be sending out a prize of marginal value shortly. The initial prize winner, Sonya Keller, did not seem to hate her prize, which was a Yankees All-Star Game pin. Tony La Russa, meanwhile, is suing Twitter, apparently because someone said mean things about him on there. Very litigious fellow that La Russa (who has a legal degree). In the meantime follow me at SI_JonHeyman.
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