Yesterday during a conference call with ESPN baseball analysts John Kruk and Nomar Garciaparra they talked about their coverage of the Home Run Derby. ESPN will air the event Monday at 8p.m. ET with the All Star Game on Fox 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Besides talking Home Run Derby both Kruk and Garciaparra took some time out to talk about the Rays.
Q. How does Zobrist go from a salary dump guy to a two‑time All‑Star guy?
KRUK: He got an opportunity to play in Tampa and took advantage. That’s the story with a lot of guys. There are a lot of guys that you have never heard of, who never got an opportunity who might have been superstars in baseball but they never got the chance. Ben got his chance and he took full advantage of it. The way he took advantage of it was wherever they asked him to play he played. Some guys are stubborn, they’re at first base or second base, they’re not going anywhere, Ben said you need me at second, at short, I’ll go. He made himself a valuable asset, more so than anybody else on that team other than Longoria. He got better and he deserves it.
GARCIAPARRA: I think he was in an environment where you have Maddon, and his style, and taking into account where he has a lot of moving parts and puts people in different positions, he’s a perfect guy for that.
Q. Two guys who did not make the team, your thoughts on that: Moore with 12 wins, and Longoria. High school allegiance is in play here with Evan Longoria not being on the team.
GARCIAPARRA: There are a lot of guys you can argue not being on this team. If you want to stay in the American League, Evan is one of them, but that’s their base position in the American League. [There is] depth in that position, because you have Cabrera, Machado, Evan is not there, Beltre, how about Josh Donaldson? Here is a first place team in the Oakland A’s and probably the best player on their team and he’s not on there either. The Oakland A’s only have one player on the All‑Star team, and that’s Colon, so they don’t have a position player.
You can make arguments for a lot of guys. I look at first base in the National League and the depth that’s going on there and guys unfortunately were left off there when you look at their numbers. They are deserving as well. He just got caught up in that numbers game.
KRUK: I think if you gave a lie detector test to Joe Maddon he would be happy that Longoria and Moore didn’t make the All‑Star team, because they need the rest, and if they’re going to catch the teams ahead of them in a very good division they’re going to need those guys healthy. And not that you worry about Evan pulling a muscle in an All‑Star Game, but he has been injured for the past few years, and it’s going to do a lot for Moore.
If you put a question to everyone in that organization, Friedman to Maddon, I think they would say, you know what? We’re happy they’re on vacation right now.
I asked about the favorites for Monday’s Home Run Derby:
With Prince Fielder and Chris Davis, the favorite’s, how important is Fielder having that experience of being on the stage in that environment when it comes time to do the Derby?
GARCIAPARRA: I think it’s huge. Like I mentioned before, a lot of guys have trouble understanding how to pace themselves throughout or what those later rounds take and also in between your rounds, once you hit, what you need to do, whether it’s continuing to hit underground or the kind of rest you need while the other guys are hitting.
There is a long time and a lot of rest in between and how are you staying sharp? So I think the experience for Fielder helps even with Chris Davis being a first‑timer with his ability, but also it’s a team event and he has Fielder and Cano and he has guys who have experience in this event and he can turn to those guys and they’re going to be saying, hey, listen ‑‑ and even though they’re competing against each other, they’re competing with each other so they are going to be telling him stuff, and he has that advantage as well.
KRUK: I think Chris Davis has a chance. If he gets in a groove he can pull off a Josh Hamilton‑type first round, but with Prince’s experience he could win at the end. Like when Justin Morneau won that year, Josh hit 26 homers in the first round or something. Chris Davis has the ability to do that, get on a roll in the first round, keep hitting one after another, and suddenly like Nomar said, can pace himself enough ‑‑ with the experience of Prince and Cano to pace himself to be fresh in the later rounds.