Baseball's All-Star Game is tonight. Forget about that for the time being, though. Let's look around the New York baseball scene at the traditional halfway point of the season and name our own 2010 New York Baseball All-Star Team.
There are plenty of stars between the New York Mets and New York Yankees, so we should come up with a pretty darn good squad. These are my position-by-position choices, with a little help from SB Nation York contributor Jeff Freier and Amazin' Avenue's Eric Simon, who know the Mets much better than I do.
Catcher -- This might actually be the toughest decision on the squad. For the Yankees, Jorge Posada is still a productive hitter (.265, nine home runs, 29 RBI), but he has caught just 36 times this season. Francisco Cervelli is hitting .266 with 30 RBI, but he has no home runs and a puny .333 slugging percentage. He is a plus defender with a strong throwing arm and he has started significantly more games than Posada (48). Cervelli has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees in the first half. For the Mets, Rod Barajas is hitting just .238 in 67 games and he's adequate defensively at best. New York All-Star: Cervelli, amazingly.
First Base -- Mark Teixeira was brutal the first quarter of the season, but he now has 17 home runs and 60 RBI. His .254 batting average is pretty meaningless -- he produces a ton of runs and saves a bunch of others with stellar defense. Rookie Ike Davis has 11 home runs and 40 RBI, and is a nice presence in the Mets'' lineup. He should have a stellar career, but he can't beat Tex for this spot right now. New York All-Star: Teixeira.
Second Base -- Robinson Cano of the Yankees (.336, 16 home runs, 58 RBI, a .944 OPS) has to at least be in the conversation for American League MVP. Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia do not play second base for the Mets, and those are the only players in the conversation with Cano for best second baseman in all of baseball. New York All-Star: Cano. He is also the MVP of our New York team at this point, with apologies to David Wright.
Shortstop -- Neither New York shortstop is having a great season. By the lofty standards of his Hall of Fame career, Derek Jeter's .274 average does not look great. But, Jose Reyes of the Mets is hitting just .275. Jeter leads Reyes in hits (100-89), runs scored (60-52), RBI (43-33) and OBP (.340-.317). Knock Jeter's defense, if you want, but defensively Reyes (.791) and Jeter (.790) have virtually identical Revized Zone Ratings and each has an Ultimate Zone Rating of -0.4. So, the defense argument is moot. New York All-Star: Jeter, without question.
Third Base -- David Wright of the Mets is having a phenomenal season (.314, 14 HRs, 65 RBI) after a 2009 season which saw him hit just 10 home runs and knock in 72 runs. Wright also has a .532 slugging percentage, and 102 hits. Alex Rodriguez has 14 home runs of his own, and 70 RBI. He is hitting just .269, however, and the Yankees are hoping he still has a dominant second half surge left in his bat. New York All-Star: Wright.
Left Field -- Jason Bay is the big name, and was a big free-agent acquisition by the Mets, but he has just six home runs and has occasionally been hearing the boo-firds at Citi Field. Gritty, gutty Brett Gardner of the Yankees just keeps hitting, running, fielding and proving all the doubters who thought the little man (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) could not play every day wrong. He is hitting .309, with 25 stolen bases, 56 runs scored, a .396 OBP, five home runs and excellent defense in both left and center field. New York All-Star: Gardner.
Center Field -- Curtis Granderson came to the Yankees in a big trade which saw the Yankees send away prized prospect Austin Jackson. He also came to the Yankees, basically, to replace Johnny Damon after the Yankees chose not to pay Damon what he was looking for. Granderson was younger and cheaper than Damon, and the Yankees reasoned his 2009 was just a bad year and that at the age of 29 he had a lot of great baseball ahead. He might, but the first half of 2010 was not it. Granderson is hitting just .240 with seven home runs and 24 RBI, and missed a month with a hamstring injury. Jackson (.300, 14 stolen bases) and Damon (.274) are both having better seasons. Oh, and so is Angel Pagan of the Mets. Pagan, never really more than a fourth outfielder with the Cubs or Mets in his first four seasons, played every day in the first half with Carlos Beltran re-habbing a knee injury. Now, with Beltran returning, how do the Mets take Pagan out of the lineup? He is hitting a career-best .315, and has already established career highs in RBI (40) and stolen bases (19) already. New York All-Star: Pagan.
Right Field -- Nick Swisher is having a career year for the Yankees. Sure's Swisher's first All-Star Game appearance was earned via fan vote with a big PR push from the Yankees, but the 29-year-old earned it. His numbers (.296, 13 homers, 47 RBI, .507 slugging percentage, 50 runs scored) are among the best of his career. He is a deserving All-Star. Jeff Francoeur, not so much. He is hitting .253 with eight homers and 42 RBI. Look at Francoeur's history, and even years do not seem to agree with him. New York All-Star: Swisher.
Designated Hitter -- At heart, I'm an American League guy. Which means I am writing by American League rules, and we are using the DH. Period. end of discussion. New York All-Star: Alex Rodriguez. He is the best of the players who did not earn one of the other starting spots.
Starting Pitchers -- CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes (Yankees); Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana (Mets). Apologies to R.A. Dickey but there are only five slots and you are the sixth guy.
Bullpen -- Closer: Mariano Rivera (Yankees). Sorry, Mets' fans. Mo is better than Francisco Rodriguez. It's not arguable. Set-up men: Pedro Feliciano and Elmer Dessens (Mets). The Yankees are still trying to find someone, anyone who can do this job. If I had to add a Yankee, it would be Damaso Marte -- and I would only do that grudgingly.