Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thursday 07/02 Quickie:
MLB All-Star Voting, Pistons Spend, July 4

Ben Zobrist.

I wouldn't exactly call him a "protest vote" on my MLB All-Star Ballot -- final day to vote is today and he (and my ASG ballot) leads today's SN column.

He is leading the AL in OPS (and Slugging). He is the surprise star of the rejuvenated Rays -- and it's no coincidence that the rejuvenation started when Zobrist finally started playing every day.

And, yes, I am voting him as a starter in the AL outfield because he has led my perennially woeful fantasy baseball team into playoff contention for the first time ever.

Zobrist was a pickup after the season started -- I'm not sure anyone actually drafted him. After all, he wasn't slated to get full-time at-bats. Even after his hot start, I followed him on the free-agent wire -- unclaimed -- because who wants a guy who won't play?

But the combination of his per-AB results and his amazing eligibility -- OF, SS, 2B -- was enough for me. I snagged him and he has been clocking the ball ever since, leading my team to its best fantasy year ever -- this despite having to sit Manny for the last 50 games, having Kazmir suck and having Joey Votto develop DL-landing depression after a terrific hot start.

And so I voted Zobrist -- I know full well that he won't make the starting lineup. But I am eagerly anticipating his spot on the reserves, the most unlikely All-Star of the season, for sure.

Don't forget to vote, and I'll be cranking up my annual "Extra Man" campaign next week once we find out who the contenders are. I think in the age of Twitter, it will be particularly interesting, because teams have become very savvy about marketing campaigns for "Extra Man."


*Pistons sign Gordon and Villanueva. The Pistons are the new Knicks -- unwilling to admit that they can't compete with the East elite but unwilling to actually start rebuilding.

So instead they commit nearly $100 million to younger versions of players they just lost -- AI and Sheed. Problem: Gordon needs shots -- what about Rip and the development of Stuckey? Villanueva is a little more solid -- seems like every team wants their "new 4" -- the 6-10 forwards like Rashard Lewis who can step out and shoot 3s. Who knew Matt Bullard would become an NBA archetype?

Lots more NBA Free Agency stuff that might pop this weekend: Will Artest sign with the Cavs? Will Hedo sign with the Blazers? Will Ariza bolt -- and what does that mean for the Lakers?

Complete column here
. More to come later today and all weekend long.

-- D.S.

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