- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Dusty Baker, Mike Scioscia and all the ballot-punchers everywhere never got around to asking for our help in putting together their All-Star Game plans and rosters. So as a public service, we're providing it anyway.
To be the starting pitcher in an All-Star Game, you shouldn't just have picturesque numbers. You need to be a story.
So what better plot could we dream up than this matchup? Willis is 21 years old. He oozes charisma out of his fingernails. He has allowed as many runs in his last eight starts put together as Mike Hampton allowed just in the second inning Tuesday (six). And he was still potty-training when Moyer threw his first professional pitch in the New York Penn League in 1984.
Moyer, on the other hand, is older than any active player who has never made an All-Star team. He owns more wins (175) than any active pitcher who has never made an All-Star team. And if he starts this game, he would be the oldest pitcher ever to start an All-Star Game -- while Willis would be the youngest. Even John Grisham couldn't write a better plot line than that.
Bob Brenly helped make last year's dramatic non-finish possible by taking exactly three starting pitchers (and seven relievers). We're taking eight starters. The only reason to leave any of those guys off this team is if they're pitching the Sunday before the break -- and just Brown will be. Meanwhile out in the 'pen, is there any question who the four most dominating relievers in the NL are? Didn't think so.
Halladay is pitching the Sunday before the game, but we can't leave him home. Hudson and Pedro are the most dominating, least-supported six-game winners in baseball. And we apologize to Ugueth Urbina and Mike MacDougal, but we're not taking any closers with more than three blown saves to our All-Star Game.
Who's the Tiger?
We're not sure if any All-Star in history ever went 16 games into the season with no RBI. But we want to thank Dmitri Young for hitting 15 home runs since April 22. Otherwise, we might have nominated the massively unlucky Mike Maroth to be the first 12-game loser in All-Star history.
Who's the Padre?
OK, just kidding. But Hoffman sure has made it easy to pick a deserving Padre all these years. So, with apologies to Ryan Klesko and Jake Peavy, we're going to reward Rondell White for those two ninth-inning slams against the Mariners, not to mention surviving a whole year in Da Bronx and living to tell about it.
Who's the Pirate?
Anybody with 209 minor-league home runs and 5,300 minor-league plate appearances deserves to be an All-Star. But we're guessing there weren't enough votes from those Altoona precincts to get him elected. So since there's no doubt who the Pirates' best player is, Brian Giles, come on down.
Who's the Met?
Armando Benitez will probably get picked, but six blown saves is way over our All-Star threshold. Cliff Floyd has actually been the Mets' best player from start to finish. But Burnitz has gone from being close to the worst player in the league last year to a comeback-player-of-the-year candidate this year, amid injury and franchise-wide insanity. And we admire that.
Next to Ichiro, Byrnes is the most fun player to watch in the American League. And the voters never got a chance to punch his name on the ballot the first time around -- because he wasn't even on it. Meanwhile, we know Kieschnick will never make this team. But if baseball is really trying to make sure somebody wins this time around, you can't beat a 32nd man who can pinch-hit, play first, play the outfield or pitch the final six innings in relief.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
A pitching matchup of young (Dontrelle Willis) vs. old (Jamie Moyer) would be ideal for the All-Star Game.