- Last Updated: 2:10 AM, July 13, 2012
- Posted: 1:19 AM, July 13, 2012
Stinker of an All-Star Game, eh? Unless you’re a Giants fan.
No worries. Just put it behind you and focus on baseball’s second half, which should be anything but a stinker.
The addition of the second wild-card might water down the pennant race, to which we respond: Who cares? It’s more fun this way.
With action resuming today, let’s list our five most intriguing people of the second half:
Andy Pettitte, Yankees
It’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Yankees, owners of baseball’s best record and largest divisional lead, miss the playoffs. Yet many Yankees fans already possess concerns about the team’s postseason chances.
Does any Yankees starting pitcher engender more trust than Pettitte? Didn’t think so, which is why his comeback was so welcomed … until he broke his left ankle on June 27.
His vague timeline calls for perhaps a late-August return, which brings to mind how he never quite regained full health after sustaining a groin injury in 2010. The Yankees have to at least stay in the trade-market loop for starting pitchers partly because of the uncertainty surrounding Pettitte.
Johan Santana, Mets
Sure, R.A. Dickey gets the People Magazine demographic with his narrative, but I’ll vote for Santana as the most stunning performer of the Mets’ first half. Even he seemed skeptical, back in spring training, that he could pull off a full return from a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. His no-hitter punctuated an outstanding three months.
Nevertheless, the skepticism looms, to see whether Santana can keep this going, and that need became even greater when Dillon Gee opted for surgery that likely will end his season. Before the grind tests Santana’s left arm, he will see how his right ankle — injured in his previous start — feels after he worked out in Atlanta.
Bobby Valentine, Red Sox
He’s always intriguing in the baseball world. As The Post reported exclusively on July 2, Major League Baseball officials are upset with Valentine for his involvement in “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” a documentary about baseball in the Dominican Republic.
He has bigger headaches in trying to manage the injury-riddled, dysfunctional Red Sox back to the playoffs. Don’t count out Boston, not with all of that talent. If it doesn’t work out, though? This could be Bobby V.’s last stand as a major league manager.
Zack Greinke, Brewers
Cole Hamels is better than Greinke and more likely to be traded, because the Phillies appear out of the race. And that’s why Greinke is more intriguing.
The right-hander could have as many as four more starts before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline, so he will have a strong personal impact on whether the Brewers hang on the periphery of the race or decide to give up and sell.
How much will Greinke bring back in a trade? More specifically, will Greinke’s past battles with social anxiety disorder and depression make some teams wary of importing him into a pennant race? It gave clubs, including the Yankees, pause when the Royals shopped him during the 2010-11 offseason.
Jon Daniels, Rangers
The Rangers’ general manager, a Queens native, probably can land whomever he wants in the next 20 days, because Texas has the most organizational depth among contending teams. The Rangers can outbid everyone else on any front in baseball’s landscape.
That means they will be players for all of the big names: Hamels, Greinke, San Diego’s Carlos Quentin (perhaps the best available bat), maybe even Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino — though he isn’t having much of a walk year.
The one area in which the Rangers look strong is their bullpen, and reliever-turned-starter Neftali Feliz, currently on the disabled list, could be a factor there. So Texas probably won’t expend its chips on the likes of San Diego’s Huston Street, Oakland’s Grant Balfour, Houston’s Brett Myers or Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez. The Mets, of course, will be in play for that group.