My Impression of One USA Today Columinst/CNN Talk Show Host...
For the first time in several years, the All-Star rosters look fairly representative of the true stars this season, but how can anyone snub Alex Rodriguez and Craig Biggio?  Those guys should have life-time roster spots reserved for the All Star game...
What is Jack McKeon thinking?  He keeps running his best reliever, Scott Williamson, out for these ridiculous 3-inning saves and then nurses Danny Graves with the easy 1-inning jobs.  At the rate he's going, he's gonna blow out Williamson and seriously jeopardize the Reds chances in the second half.  Do the right thing, Jack: make the strikeout pitcher, Williamson, the closer and let the groundball pitcher, Graves, be his set-up man...
Everyone keeps wondering what's up with the Pads - how did they win 14 in row?  Well, if you saw some of their losses in April and May, where just about everything went wrong that could go wrong, you'd know they were overdue for some good karma payback.  They are a decent ballclub in a mediocre division and should at least contend for the wild card spot...
Speaking of the Pads and Reds, the Vaughn/Sanders + Jackson deal is looking more and more like one of those rare deals that was great for both teams.  Vaughn has provided some pop, but more importantly, some veteran leadership for the Reds.  If you look at his numbers so far, you'll also notice a high number of walks, a positive indicator for an upsurge for the second half.  As for the Padre side of that deal, Reggie Sanders is finally healthy and happy enough to finally reach that 30/30/.300 level that has been predicted for him for so long and Damian Jackson has been phenomenal.  His errors should decrease in frequency as he gets more acclimated to starting everyday at short...
The Rockies are about ot fold up for the year.  Manager Jim Leyland wants to remake the team to more his liking.  Look for Darryl Kile and Vinny Castilla to be elsewhere in a matter of weeks, and if anyone will take him, Dante Bichette, too.  Tons of teams would like to have Kile, and Castilla has been rumored to be going to either the Cubs, Padres or Yankees.  My guess is Castilla ends up with the Cubs and Kile with the Giants.  I'm not sure Bichette has a great deal of value outside Colorado...
In a related story, the D-backs are still looking for a closer and apparently are very close to getting Ugueth Urbina, according to Arizona GM Joe Garigiola Jr.  It sounds like a good match, with the D-backs having several top notch pitching propsects to give.  Either Guillermo Mota or Dustin Hermanson are rumored to be Urbina's successor should he be dealt.  Mota is the more likely, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Expos trade Brad Fullmer for someone with closing experience to facilitate Mota's succession.  Fullmer has made lots of noises recently about wanting out and the Expos surprisingly seem eager to oblige him...
(Editor's note: The D-backs did trade for a closer but it was for Florida's hard-throwing youngster Matt Mantei.  Oddly enough, they completed the deal before Matt Mantei pin night in Florida.  The Marlins simply stole Arizona's 2 best pitching prospects, Brad Penny and Vladimir Nunez.  They'll also recieve a third player to be named later.  Not that Mantei isn't really good, but to give up that kind of talent in any deal that doesn't include a bonafide star is simply foolhardy.  Garigiola Jr is quickly establishing himself as a major league mark.  Trading Tony Batista and John Frascatore for Dan Plesac?  C'mon, Joe!  Even I know that one stinks.)
Scott Elartons's move to the rotation has temporarily exposed the Astros weakness - middle relief.  Brian Williams and Trevor Miller have been serviceable but unless Sean Bergman can return from injury to fill Elarton's set-up role, the Astros will be vulnerable in the 7th and 8th innings...
Still the most amazing bit of baseball trivia -  In Back to the Future 2, Biff gets his hands on a sports almanac that lists all the championship winners for the rest of the century.  It lists Florida as the winner of the 1997 World Series.  The movie was released in 1989, eight years prior to the Marlins winning the Series in 1997.  Even more amazing is the fact that hadn't even been decided that Florida would have a major league team until 1992.