(BaseballStL) -- He just couldn't help himself, could he? Reds manager Dusty Baker runs his mouth at every chance he gets when it comes to trashing former Cards skipper Tony La Russa. And with this All-Star Game being the final time he'd get the chance (well, I'm sure he'll come up with something else) he had to do it.
Baker throws out a stupid fight 2 years ago as a reason for omitting pitcher Johnny Cueto and 2B Brandon Phillips from the midsummer classic.
I wasn't aware Brandon Phillips' robust .329 on-base percentage (good for 47th in the NL) and .770 OPS (41st in the NL) guaranteed you a spot on the roster. I didn't know that when you're overlooked by the fans AND your own peers you have some sort of right to think you're a no brainer to be in the game.
Is Phillips good enough to be on the team? Sure. He's an elite talent. But to be all up in arms over his omission is ludicrous at best. With Houston 2B Jose Altuve far more deserving (not to mention the fact he's the only Astro) and Cubs SS Starlin Castro also the only representative for his club TLR had one pick for another infielder.
He chose Nationals SS Ian Desmond. While I'll be the first to admit Desmond's .308 OBP is not good at all, taking him for his defensive value and versatility is a strong argument. This game won't be ending in a tie. In case you haven't heard the winner gets home field advantage for the World Series. And if it's late in the game and TLR needs to start moving people around defensively he's going to have a much easier time fitting Desmond into 2nd base than he is Phillips at shortstop.
I wouldn't say it's a no-brainer. But it's close enough to make it pretty subjective. And to say it's so one-sided in favor of Phillips that TLR must've had an agenda is just plain ridiculous. Get on base a little more and hit for more power and we'll talk. For now, just be bummed that a close call didn't go your way. It happens every year.
As for Johnny Cueto, he's a slightly different story. Cueto's 2.26 ERA is tied for 4th in the NL and he's been terrific. The issue here is the fact that Dusty Baker has Cueto scheduled to pitch on Sunday...when he wouldn't have been available for Tuesday anyway. The rule states if you are chosen for the game and you're pitching Sunday you have the right to back out of the game. If you don't, you can't pitch more than an inning. Why take the risk that Cueto may not pitch at all and have someone better rested?
You can't tell me Dusty didn't see that one coming down the line the last few weeks. This ain't his first rodeo.
And the third and final argument to suggest Dusty Baker is out of his mind. How about the fact his very own right fielder (Jay Bruce) was selected to the game instead of the Cardinals own Matt Holliday? Folks, Holliday is hitting .307 with a .391 on-base percentage. Bruce? .257 and a .326 OBP. In what universe does that suggest TLR had a vendetta against Cincinnati?
If anything, Cards fans have a reason to be annoyed that Holliday isn't there.
Look, are there arguments to be made that suggest Brandon Phillips and/or Johnny Cueto should be all stars? Yes. But those types of things happen every single year. This is no different. There's no ulterior motive. No vendetta. Just strategic baseball decisions.
Get over yourself, Dusty.