All Decade All the Time
It’s 10:14am here in the east and I’m three days removed from my college graduation. So this is what “the real world” is like, huh? I’ve heard about this for what seems like forever. Colleges, these days, pride themselves on preparing us for the great wide world that is going to crush us if we’re not ready.
My opinion.. honestly? Kinda boring.
Okay, I don’t have a “job” yet, but I do have several things going on. I’m attending the Allentown Bartending School after the new year. That should be fun. My ultimate goal would be to get a job in a nice sports bar where I could talk sports all day long. I do that already, but my fiancee is not very receptive unless it about the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I’m also working in a new web series that I’m trying to pitch. It’s called Guys With Girl Problems (cheap plug) and I think people will find it funny. I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years in college working my tail off toward something I have little interest in. If I’ve learned anything in that time, it’s that I need to be working toward something I believe in.
Wait a minute. This is a baseball blog, right? Sorry. On to baseball!
To quench my winter thirst for baseball in the wake of the Roy Halladay trade, I’m fixed on mlb.com eying the next big moves. One of today’s headlines was regarding the fan voted “all-decade” teams. So I thought I’d weigh in.
Now I don’t know all the rules here. From what I gather, this is like an AL/NL all-century team except just the 2000-2009 decade. So here goes.
1B: Albert Pujols – No surprises here. They don’t call this guy a machine for nothing. since breaking into the league in 2001, Pujols has hit .334 with 366 dingers and 1,112 RBI on his way to 3 MVPs and a World Series. Some guys would sell their soul for the career this guys has had in 9 years. If Ryan Howard had come into the league earlier than 2006, this might be a more difficult discussion, but Pujols is just undeniable right now.
2B: Chase Utley – Here comes the homer! Okay, yes I’m a Phillies Phanatic but you really can’t argue with Utley at all. I don’t even need to throw out numbers with him. He’s going to go down as the greatest second baseman of all time, even better than Ryne Sandberg.
3B: Chipper Jones – This was a little tougher decision. Chipper has battled some injuries which kept him out the better of one or two seasons and he’s getting up there in age. But I’ve been following his career since he was a rookie in 1995, A lot of people want to shy away from him but at the end of the day you can’t deny what he brings to the plate. Yes, he moved around position wise, playing LF for a couple years, but he’s always been a third baseman.
SS: Jimmy Rollins – This was by far the toughest decision because SS seems to be a forgotten position anymore. It was sexy in the 90’s with Ripken, Jeter, A-Rod and Garciaparra but now I can only name maybe 5 starting shortstops in all of baseball without really thinking hard. For me, it came down to Jimmy Rollins and Rafael Furcal. I went with Rollins because he’s been consistent and clutch and he’s got an MVP trophy and a World Series ring. Furcal has neither. Plus, Rollins and his club have come up victorious in the last 2 NLCS of the decade.Compelling.
LF: Barry Bonds – I’ll take the 2001-2004 Bonds who hit a billion home runs and won 4 consecutive MVPs. Not the 2005-2007 Bonds who played every other day and walked more than he ran. Literally. Steroids or not, the games count so he counts. He never could win a championship but he was playing in San Francisco. Gary Sheffield was a close second, but he spent a lot of the decade in the AL with New York and Detroit.
CF: Jim Edmonds – I had three choices for best CF of the decade. Edmonds, Andruw Jones and Carlos Beltran. Beltran only came to the NL at the trade deadline of 2004 so he’s out. That left Jones and Edmonds. Both of these guys were staples in CF for one teams nearly the whole decade. There was a time where no fly ball was safe in St. Louis or Atlanta. I gave the nod to Edmonds because his numbers were a bit more consistent whereas Andruw Jones was more of a bell-curve.
RF: Gary Sheffield – Yes, I know I mentioned him in the Left Field discussion, but Sheff really did spend more time in Right than Left until recently. I re-thought his career and despite spending 2004-2008 in New York and Detroit, he is still hands down better than the youngsters that have been in right for the rest of the decade. A shout out goes to Will Ferrell, i mean, Adam Dunn.
C: Mike Piazza – Even though he retired in 2008, Piazza still stuck out as the best of the unsung heroes behind the plate. He was one of the few to be feared at the plate and meant a lot to the city of New York following the tragedy of 9/11. Russell Martin, Brian McCann and the Molina family are all great catchers, but Piazza is up on the pedistal in my book.
P: John Smoltz – Picking just one pitcher out of, I don’t know, A MILLION is a tall order. In the end, I went with Smoltz because he was part of what could be the greatest 1-2-3 rotation (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz) of all time. AND he did what his team needed and stepped into the closer role and was nothing short of a lock. He was the Mo Rivera of the NL for 3 seasons.
1B: Paul Konerko – This is tricky because the 1B/DH designation is typically one and the same. You can throw around names like Jim Thome and David Ortiz, but they were typically DH. Many First basemen in the AL are there for defensive purposes. Konerko played a lot of 1B in the decade and is one of the most overlooked players of the decade. So I’m going to show him some love in this blog at least.
2B: Alfonso Soriano – It’s hard to remember his time in the AL since his astronomical contract in Chicago and his move to LF, but he was once considered the next great Yankee. After losing the 2001 and 2003 world series respectively, New York traded him away and teams have been overpaying for him ever since. Gotta give it up to a guy who looks like he weighs 150lbs but can power it to China.
3B: Alex Rodriguez – He still seems like he doesn’t know what he’s doing at 3B but what he’s done at the plate greatly overshadows it all. A lot of his great work of the decade was done at SS but its undeniable who belongs at that designation, I had to give 3B to Rodriguez.
SS: Derek Jeter – In my book, he’s still the last true great Yankee. I think he can be mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. I spent most of my life loathing the Yankee organization, but I always liked Jeter. He’s a classy, old fashioned ballplayer. I really don’t think I need to say anything else.
LF: Manny Ramirez – One of the many great products of the Cleveland Indians organization to experience success somewhere else. Manny has been Manny this whole decade and while his antics on the field have been somewhat comical, he been the best and most consistent hitter we’ve had outside of DH.
CF: Torii Hunter – Center Field used to be a premier position with guys like Mantle and Griffey Jr., but now teams usually want a speedy defensive center fielder and are lucky to find one that might be able to put the bat on the ball well enough to lead off. Hunter has done all that and more and he’s done it year in and year out.
RF: Ichiro – He largely stays out of the media because he doesn’t speak much English and he plays in Seattle. But Ichiro has started almost every All-Star game since he came into the league in 2001 from Japan and he’s the one guy you DO NOT want to see when you’re looking for a safe out. Many fans also discount his defense which is amazing. I remember watch
ing him throw out a tagging runner on a frozen-rope strike from RF to third.
C: Jorge Posada – Consistency is big in my book. There are a lot of players that are hyped up because they have 1 or 2 big months, but I like the players who get it done day in and day out. Posada is one of those players who can hit almost anywhere in the lineup from either side of the plate and put the barrel of the bat on the ball. What more do you want from a catcher?
P: Roy Halladay – Yes, I know, I’m excited to see him in Philadelphia, but he was the workhorse of the AL for the entire decade. A Cy Young in 2003 doesn’t begin to describe what he did for Toronto who otherwise had to think back to Joe Carter’s series winning home run, but Mitch Williams and I don’t want to talk about that. You could make a good case for Roger Clemens or even Andy Pettite, but both of them abandoned the AL for the NL in 2004, and Clemens has been baseball’s version of Brett Favre ever since. So I had to take points away. Halladay has pitched around 200 innings a year in 6 of the last 10 seasons on his way to winning 139 games.
So there it is. My all-decade teams for the AL and NL. Of course there are arguments to be made and I’m open to any of them.