I’m So Excited

I have never been more excited for a baseball season to begin.

After suffering through a tumultuous 2010 season, filled with injuries and unfulfilled expectations, the offseason for the Boston Red Sox has been just what the doctor ordered. Boston made the two biggest splashes of the year by trading their top prospects for Adrian Gonzalez and his perfectly-suited-for-Fenway Park swing, and signing Red Sox-killer Carl Crawford to a ridiculous 7-year contract.

I absolutely love the additions. These are two high-character hard workers that make Boston a lot more exciting. The reality about the 2010 Sox was that they were a bit boring to watch. Players grinding out at bats is productive, but I want to see the shock and awe of Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury stealing bases, coupled with Gonzalez, Youkilis and Big Papi knocking bombs.

I couldn’t care less that Boston is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars in player salaries. I just bought a Red Sox hat that cost 35 bucks, and I’m happy to see the Boston owners putting it back into the team. And I don’t buy that they’re starting to resemble the Yankees, who think they can buy a World Series. Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester, Buchholz, and Ellsbury are all homegrown and are still the heart of this team.

There has been a ton of speculation on what the new and improved batting order is going to be. Is Ellsbury leading off? Is the lineup too left handed? Where should Crawford hit? What a great problem to have. They could put all nine names into a hat and pull them out in any order and still win 90 games. David Ortiz is leading off? Whatever.

Of course, Terry Francona is a lot smarter than I am, and he has a ton of lineup options depending on the opposing pitcher. But, if it were up to me, here’s what I’d do.

  1. Ellsbury
  2. Pedroia
  3. Crawford
  4. Gonzalez
  5. Youkilis
  6. Ortiz
  7. Drew
  8. Saltalamacchia
  9. Scutaro

I’ll put this lineup up against anyone. Patience, speed, and power throughout. Is this a 95+ wins team positioned for a playoff run?¬†As long as they stay healthy, I’m pretty confident that it is.

The 2011 baseball season starts in 30 days… I guess we’ll start answering some of these questions then.

All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.