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Should Stephen Strasburg be an All-Star? It depends

 This is a natural topic for the yakosphere (copyright Neil Best). I heard Joe and Evan discussing it yesterday, as I drove to the car wash, and Howard Bryant and Jerry Crasnick debate it here. 

Strasburg excelled in his fifth start last night, even as he took the loss. BTW, with Strasburg setting the baseball world afire and nevertheless 2-2, do you think the general populace will gain a greater appreciation for what a worthless statistic won-loss record is?

But I digress. The All-Star rosters, as you probably know, come from three different parties: The fans select the starting lineups, consisting of 17 players (the American League DH is voted in, whereas the National League DH is selected among the group of players on the roster). Then the players choose the next 16, featuring eight pitchers and eight position players. Finally, the managers - in conjunction with the commissioner's office - fill out the rosters with the final nine players, plus they select five more to compete for the final slot, via fan's Internet voting. With those final nine picks, the managers have to make sure all teams are represented, so they don't have a completely free say.

Of those three parties, only the last is required to function in a logical and mature manner.

The fans can't vote for Strasburg, since they don't choose pitchers. But if the National League players feel strongly enough about Strasburg's candidacy, they should go to town. Of course it would be highly entertaining for Strasburg to pitch at the Mid-summer Classic on July 13 in Anaheim

If the players pass on Strasburg, however (which they almost certainly will. Veterans don't like to reward rookies)? Then it's incumbent upon NL manager Charlie Manuel to not choose Strasburg. Manuel should rely primarily on first-half statistics. He shouldn't look to bend the spirit of the game just for the sake of a few more eyeballs.

Strasburg has a 1.0 WAR after five starts, which is great, considering how little he has pitched. In the NL, however, that ties him for 54th among pitchers, alongside Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin and San Diego's Tim Stauffer. Looking for a Nationals representative? Livan Hernandez (2.6), Ryan Zimmerman (2.2), Adam Dunn (2.1), Josh Willingham (2.0) and Tyler Clippard (1.7) all have done more - although the fact that Strasburg ranks sixth tells you why the Nationals have settled comfortably into last place in the NL East.

If he keeps this up, Strasburg will have his chances in the Midsummer Classic. And again, if the players declare it to be so, let's do it. But the players won't, so let's wait 'til next year.

--If R.A. Dickey's run of dominance had lasted much longer, I was going to to try to arrange some sort of meeting between Dickey and Aaron Small. That won't be necessary, as Dickey finally indicated he was human with last night's Mets loss in Puerto Rico. There's nothing the Mets can do but shrug and see what Dickey looks like in his next start, Saturday against Strasburg and the Nationals in Washington.

(And yes, the game might have turned in a different direction had it been played on natural grass. Jose Reyes just got devoured out there.)

--Angel Pagan sat out again, David Lennon reports. 

 --There's no timetable for the return of Jenrry Mejia, but I think we can say safely that he's out of the mix concerning the trade deadline. 

--At a Manhattan event, Randy Levine and Brian Cashman offered relatively kind words for Joe Torre. Levine made sure to point out that George Steinbrenner deserves the most credit of all for the Torre Dynasty, and sure, why not? Torre pretty much says that in his controversial book. 

But the greater point is that Torre came in at the perfect time, when the Yankees were ready to leap to winning championships, and that he proved such a good fit - thanks in large part to his ability (at least, in the early years) to not be fazed at all by Steinbrenner's wackiness. George bankrolled the run, and the players largely earned their keep, but Torre did in fact function as an excellent zookeeper.

--Alex Rodriguez is rolling again.

 --It sounds as though Dustin Moseley could be headed up to the Yankees. Thanks to Twitter for the tip.

--The Braves have put their star rookie, Jason Heyward, on the disabled list. with a left thumb injury.

--Carlos Zambrano, mentioned here yesterday, is now on the restricted list. I guess that's progress.

--Live chat at noon tomorrow. Seriously, why would you want to miss it?

--I'll check in later today from Yankee Stadium, where we'll have a humdinger of a game: Cliff Lee against Phil Hughes. The Mariners will be the fourth different team Lee has represented at Yankee Stadium in the past two calendar years. Can you name them? And will we see a fifth uniform this October, before he puts on the Yankees pinstripes next April for a sixth?


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