McCutchen snub should fuel Pirates down the stretch

Andrew McCutchen's All-Star snub has teammates rallying. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

I don’t think I need to elaborate very much on one of the biggest stories to come out of the release of the NL All-Star voting yesterday — Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen got snubbed, hardcore. New York’s Carlos Beltran, with worse numbers, was put on the roster — reportedly so NL manager Bruce Bochy can try to convince him to waive his no-trade clause and come to the Giants. Jay Bruce was another player added to the roster before McCutchen that was arguably less deserving. Bruce puts up better power numbers, but McCutchen puts up better all-around numbers. And with 12 home runs so far this year, it’s not like he’s lacking in that category. And can anyone please tell me who the hell Michael Morse is and how he managed to make the Final Vote thing over ‘Cutch?

As the saying goes, however, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger, and I think that’s going to be the case with the Pirates. Players in the clubhouse yesterday were outraged over what happened.

Neil Walker tweeted, “… Cutch got screwed, he’ll be in 11 more or so of them though.”

Paul Maholm tweeted, “… who else thinks cutch got jacked? Definately a Allstar.”

Jeff Karstens tweeted, “… still pissed our man McCutchen didn’t make the all-star team! Hope the fans show up with signs for him!”

And that wasn’t all of it. Even Joel Hanrahan, the team’s lone representative, took a chance to try and get a push for McCutchen to be in the game. A majority of the clubhouse thought that the team was well deserving of a few selections into the game. Aside from McCutchen, solid cases can be made for Kevin Correia, who is tied for the NL lead with 11 wins, Neil Walker, who has put up comparable numbers to Rickie Weeks, and even Karstens, who currently has an ERA lower than CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee.

You can blame it on the politics of baseball. The more popular teams get more players, and the more popular players always win out. Walker acknowledged that in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviews Dejan Kovacevik, saying “… there are a lot of politics in this. If you’re the Yankees or Red Sox or those teams, you’re always going to have a better chance.” You can also blame it on two decades of losing. For so many years the Pirates have put the one obligatory player on the All-Star roster and, quite honestly, it was all they deserved. Some years, I’m not even sure the obligatory player they placed deserved to be there. But this year is different, the fans know it, and most importantly the players know it. Expect to see them unify and show just how talented this baseball team really is.

Heading into the All-Star break, the team plays home series against the bottom feeders of the division – Houston and Chicago – and they play another series on the road against Houston right after the break. Following that is back-to-back series at home against Cincinnati and St. Louis. It is not all that unrealistic to think that this team could be playing for the division lead against the Reds and the Cardinals towards the end of July. How amazing would that be for this team and for the city of Pittsburgh, playing for first place at home heading into the dog days of August baseball? It’d be quite an accomplishment, and will show us what this team really has in the tank. If GM Neal Huntington goes out and makes a move before those two seriesto rejuvenate the team (hint-hint for what I’ll be posting about soon), we’ll be seeing the Pirates making a playoff push down the summer stretch for the first time in quite a while.

Andrew McCutchen was quoted Sunday as saying, “Just because you don’t make an All-Star team doesn’t mean that you’re not an All-Star.” Expect him and the rest of the Pirates to show just how much meaning there can be behind that statement in the coming weeks.

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