MLB Jam: AL Edition

Well, this started as a post that was going to compile information about all the arbitration-eligible players in the league, like what they were being offered/countering with, what they signed for, etc. After all, a lot happens very quickly around this time of year. But then we found out that the indispensable Cot's Baseball Contracts is already doing just that. Sometimes, we just don't know why we bother.

But in any event we went through the trouble of logging in here, so, hey, might as well write something, right? A couple of days ago, over at our other gig on MLB Notebook, we briefly tossed out the idea of creating an MLB version of NBA Jam - hence the goofy title of this post. At the time, we weren't really sure how such a thing would work. Should we pick the two guys who'd be best at hoops, or the most representative players of the team regardless of hooping ability? If we did consider basketball skills, was there any chance that we could avoid charges of racism*? Should we look at baseball skills?

*Short answer: certainly not. Longer answer: certainly not, but it's not like we've got an enormous readership clamoring for controversy.

With no real answer in sight, we decided that this was probably a pretty silly idea. But then!

Well, no, there is no but then! moment. We're still fairly sure this is a dumb idea. But we're going to try to play it relatively straight, and pick the two guys who we think would make for a decent 2-on-2 team from each team's 40-man roster. Will it work? Well, that's for you to decide.

AL East
Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz
  • Sliced bread, of course, is the greatest thing since Matt Wieters, and if Matusz can toss entry passes like a baseball, this team could get by on some Stockton/Malone mojo. They'll be a bit 'tweener-sized, since both are 6'5'', but they might be a nice darkhorse.
Boston Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia 
  • The Sox are just not a very tall team - Dustin Richardson (whom we've never heard of ) is the tallest at 6'6''. So we're gonna go small ball with this team - Ellsbury's legs will play well at the point, and Pedroia seems like that annoying bastard at the Y who plays dirty and hits enough shots to feel secure in taunting everyone about it.
New York Yankees: Andrew Brackman and CC Sabathia
  • Brackman is at least 6'10'' (he was listed at 7'0'' in the Cape Cod League) so he's a natural choice to be the big man for the Yankee squad. And have you ever seen a fat man play basketball who doesn't hit shots like it's his job? We haven't. And we're writing this. So there.
Tampa Bay Rays: Carl Crawford and Jeff Niemann
  • Crawford gets the nod over the uber-athletic Desmond Jennings because he's got about 40 pounds on the guy. Niemann makes it because he's 6'9''. We also considered Matt Garza because of the aforementioned douche-factor that got Pedroia a spot, but we decided that Garza's more like the kind of guy that people on his own team resent during pickup games.
  Toronto Blue Jays: Jason Frasor and Mark Rzepczynski
  • We know it looks like this team will suck. But Jason Frasor's brother, Bobby Frasor, is the point guard at North Carolina, and Rzepczynski has a first-rate fitness program. So all we're saying here is that this team could be a dark horse.

AL Central
Chicago White Sox: Brent Lillibridge and John Danks
  • "Baby Face" Brent Lillibridge is on the team because he looks sort of incredibly fragile, so he'll be able to draw plenty of charging calls against the bigger, badder teams. Danks' brother, Jordan, is an excellent athlete in center field, so maybe big bro John was blessed with some of that, too. What we're saying is, it's slim pickings on this team.
Cleveland Indians: Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson
  • We're going big with these guys. Carmona, a 6'5'' sinkerballer, should be able to throw a mean bounce pass - assuming he doesn't miss wildly every time. Masterson's 6'6'', and that's literally the only reason we can think of to put him on here. But unless Shin-Soo Choo has some Jeremy Lin in him, we're sort of at a loss for the rest of these guys.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello
  • Couple of tall young guns here. We figure that since they're a pair of starting pitchers, they both spend plenty of their copious downtime with one another, and so have a good chemistry. Now let's all start pretending that "chemistry" has still never been used to settle an issue on this here blog.  
Kansas City Royals: Yuniesky Betancourt and Jason Kendall
  • Sorry, but when a team is fielding two of the worst regular players in the league, they sort of have to be on the same team together. But, hey, at least Kendall has that Veteran Presence, eh? Let's just hope he doesn't break an ankle.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer and Pat Neshek
  • Sort of the same reasoning here as with the Orioles...what, exactly, can't Joe Mauer do? And would Pat Neshek's sidearm game translate to roundball? And has anyone ever won a game while listening to Livin' on a Prayer? Stay tuned!

AL West
Los Angeles Angels: Jered Weaver and Reggie Willits
  • Weaver, at 6'7'', would be one of the tallest players in this silly little contest. Willits has himself a speedy pair of legs, and since the other choices were the oft-injured Howie Kendrick and old Bobby Abreu, we took Willits. Though it would be funny to watch Fernando Rodney repeatedly throw chest passes into the crowd...that is, if he's not still standing on the mound in the Metrodome.  

Oakland Athletics: Jack Cust and Jerry Blevins
  • Cust's Three True Outcomes game at the plate clearly translates to the hardcourt like so: HR -> slam dunk; BB -> puppy two-footer; K -> missed three-pointer. Not the worst guy in the world to have on your team. Blevins is 6'6''. We're starting to see that size is something of a premium in MLB, so instead of going with the speedier Eric Patterson or Rajai Davis, we're gonna pick height. This is gonna be a plodding team, so for their sake, we may have to play half-court. 
Seattle Mariners: Milton Bradley and Franklin Gutierrez
  • Would you want to foul Bradley and get him angry? That's what we thought. And Gutierrez - a.k.a. Death to Flying Things - would clearly pull down every rebound in sight, and probably block a few shots as well. 
Texas Rangers: Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus
  • We're dipping into the defense theme again with Andrus, but Cruz is the real threat here. He's a stocky guy, at 230, but he's also got speed to burn, having stolen 20 bases last season. 

So there you have it. Feel free to let us know if you can think of better choices for any of the spots - we promise we won't be offended. Oh, and stay tuned for the NL version at some point in the near future. We hope.

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