All-Star Update: Matsui In, Moose And Mo Out

Hideki Matsui's Godzilla-sized June propelled him into the fans' hearts and onto the All-Star team as a ballot. He was joined in the starting lineup by teammates Alfonso Soriano at second base and Jorge Posada at catcher. Several Yankees were snubbed however, including Mike Mussina, as the All-Star teams were announced on Sunday.

Matsui, a nine-time All-Star in Japan, was elected to his first American All-Star team on Sunday. The fans, apparently aware of his enormous June, spoke and spoke loud, naming him a starter. For the month of June, Matsui batted .394 with six homeruns and 29 RBI and was named AL Rookie of the Month. After getting off to a slow start and raising questions about his abilities to hit major-league pitching, Godzilla figured out how to drive the ball with authority. Since then he has raised his average to .311, which leads the Yankees, and has 64 RBI on the season, which is tops among rookies.

Matsui will be joining fellow Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki – now of Seattle – in the outfield to start the game. Matsui will probably start in center, with Ichiro in right field and Boston's Manny Ramirez in left field.

Jorge Posada was named to his fourth consecutive All-Star team, taking over as the top catcher in the AL for the second straight year. Posada is batting .254 with 17 homeruns and 50 RBI through Sunday, and is arguably the most productive catcher in the AL. Jason Varitek of the Red Sox certainly warrants attention, with a much higher average and as many RBI, but the fans cast their ballots for Jorge, and who are we to complain?

Joining Posada and Matsui will be Soriano, who continues to impress everyone with his raw talent. Bret Boone has slightly better numbers at second base, but nobody will be complaining with Soriano at second. From the Yankees' leadoff spot, Sori has a .300 batting average, 22 homeruns and 51 RBI through Sunday.

Jason Giambi joins Oakland's Eric Byrnes, Anaheim's Benjie Molina, Chicago's own Frank Thomas and Varitek in the inaugural 32nd man vote. The vote will let the fans determine the final two players (one AL, one NL) that will make the trip to Chicago. Giambi got off to a slow start this year, but has since taken off. He was named the AL Player of the Month in June, and let's not forget that he won the homerun derby in 2002.

More interesting than which Yankees were taken by the All-Star voters and coaches is which Yanks were not. Not a single Yankee was named as a reserve player or a pitcher for this year's AL team. While the reserves snub is well deserved (who are they going to take? Robin Ventura?), the fact that Mike Scoscia didn't take a single Yankee pitcher is almost baffling.

The system this year for choosing the All-Stars is more complex than ever, with fans, players and coaches, the managers and finally fans again taking part in the vote, managers are allowed an insanely small amount of flexibility to build their teams. This year, the managers were responsible for taking seven starting pitchers and five relievers. And since each team needs to be represented, Mike Scoscia ended up being able to make only one real pick of his own. With that pick however, he took Seattle's Shigetoshi Hasegawa – a former player of Scoscia's in Anaheim. While Shiggy is having an excellent season (he is 1-0 with a 0.81 ERA), Scoscia could have tweaked things to take Mike Mussina, who has had much more of an impact on his team's season that Hasegawa.

Mussina isn't the only player that has confusingly been left off the All-Star team. Pedro Martinez is nowhere to be found, nor is Seattle's Gil Meche, who is enjoying a phenomenal breakout season. Mariano Rivera isn't on the team either, despite excellent performances, but Keith Foulke (four blown saves) and Eddie Guardado (four losses) both are.

At any rate, the new system needs some work. The managers did what they could and they did what they did. The Yankees will be well represented at the All-Star game in Chicago this season and maybe next season the system will be improved.

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