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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 4, 2010 at 5:39 AM

Wakamatsu on Strasburg as an All-Star: No way

Happy Fourth of July to all. I’ll start Independence Day in Detroit and end it in Seattle, if all goes well. I’m wondering if I’ll see fireworks from the sky all across America as I head west tonight. That would be cool. Unless I’m sound asleep, which is more likely.

I weighed in with my All-Star selections in today’s paper, including Stephen Strasburg. That choice wasn’t too popular, judging by the comments I read. No problem. It’s a polarizing issue, and I certainly understand the other side of the argument.

I was glad to see that Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, one of the writers I most respect, agrees with me.

Don Wakamatsu (whom I also respect), doesn’t. I posed the Strasburg All-Star question to him before yesterday’s game.

“No. I still think there has to be some merit to it,” he said. “Obviously, there’s his stuff and the promotions and hype and all that, and he is going to be an awfully good one. But I think you have to go out there and prove it long-term. You could make a case for (Doug) Fister leading the American League in earned-run average for almost half a season. I don’t think it’s deserving, no.”

By the time many of you read this, the All-Star team will have been announced. At least, the initial All-Star team. There are always numerous adjustments because of injuries, and now because pitchers who start next Sunday must be replaced by virtue of a new rule instituted this year. The entire team will be unveiled on TBS starting at noon.

As I wrote yesterday, I believe the Mariners will have three representatives — Ichiro, Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez

Wakamatsu made the case for why Lee should start the All-Star Game — as he did in 2008 at Yankee Stadium. (If you can name the National League starter that day, you get bonus points. I was there and I had forgotten. Answer at end).

“I think from my standpoint, you look at what he’s done with the walks, who he’s pitched against, where he’s pitched, the complete games,” Wakamatsu said of Lee. “I think he’s as good as there is in baseball right now. At this moment. I don’t know if I can put it any better than that. He’s as good as there is right now. Look who he is matching up against, plus the complete games. That is a big stat there, knowing you are going to give your team a chance to win and go the distance. Both Felix and Lee have been tremendous.”

Wakamatsu expects Hernandez to make it along with Lee (Ichiro is a given).

“He’s pitching as good as he was last year, and if he had better run support his numbers would be a lot better,” he said.

(Trivia answer: Ben Sheets of the Milwaukee Brewers was the NL starter in 2008. Both he and Lee worked two scoreless innings. Both gave up one hit. Both struck out three. Sheets did walk two. Lee, in a shocker, didn’t walk any. That was the year the AL pulled it out 4-3 in 15 innings on Michael Young’s sacrifice fly at 1:37 a.m. Now that I remember.).

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