Prince Fielder won last night’s Home Run Derby, and he also had the most prodigious homers of the night. None came within 20 feet of 500, though, which makes me think of back when a few 500 foot homers were the norm, and I feel a little silly. The All-Star Game is tonight at 6:30 CT (7:30 ET) on FOX.
- Starlin Castro says his goal is to become a perennial All-Star. “I look at what Derek Jeter has done and it is crazy,” Castro told reporters, according to Bruce Levine. “That is what I want to be like, I want to be a 13-time All-Star. That is a goal.” Castro also expects his All-Star experience to be even better this year, not only because his family will be there, but because he feels more comfortable. “I am much more comfortable this year because my English is much better and I can talk to everybody without help,” Castro said. “Last year I was kind of lost and didn’t know where I was going. Now I have more experience at these things. I will take [teammate and fellow All-Star Bryan] LaHair with me everywhere I go.”
- Speaking of LaHair, he sounds like a giddy kid to be there in Kansas City. “I think I’m the most excited person to be here,” LaHair said to reporters at his All-Star media session. “I really am. It’s just an incredible experience for me to be here with all the legends, the All-Stars, the future Hall of Famers. You feel like you’re part of something special and I feel truly blessed to be here. It’s an incredible moment for me and my family and I’m going to try to soak up every moment of it. Just the path that I took to get here; I get one opportunity to be an everyday big league player, and somehow I get to be an All-Star. I dreamt it this way, but obviously I didn’t know it would work out this way. The players voted me in and it’s a good feeling to know that they respect your game and they respect the hard work that you put in through the years. I just feel blessed that they voted me in and wanted me to be a part of this.”
- Here are a couple great quotes about Bryan LaHair from his NL teammates. First: “That is an extremely impressive thing to do, to have perseverance like that. This is a really difficult game that we play, with a lot of adversity and a lot of failure. For Bryan to continue to fight like that and continue to work through countless minor league seasons had to be extremely frustrating. It is great to see him succeed the way he has and deservedly become an All-Star. His story is pretty special.” Second: “I always heard Bryan LaHair’s name coming through the minor leagues myself. He always put up consistent numbers and now to have received a chance from the Cubs, which is a difficult market to break into, is very impressive. Most guys get the cup of coffee in the majors and then get sent back. Bryan seized the moment and has done great, culminating with his All Star selection. I hope he has a long and great career.” Nice guys and good quotes, right? Thinking good things about those guys? The second was Joey Votto. The first was Ryan Braun.
- NL Manager Tony La Russa says he’d be “shocked” if he’s not able to get LaHair an at bat. I hope so.
- Scott Boras says the Albert Almora deal is not quite done yet, but he also offered quotes to the Tribune about how the Cubs wanted to make sure they had enough money left over after signing everyone else to sign Almora, so there obviously isn’t any reason for concern.
- Patrick Mooney talks about what might have been if the Cubs had won the bidding for Yu Darvish (they reportedly came in second), and gets some quotes from Darvish about what it would have been like if the Cubs had won the post (he says he likely would have signed).
- Jon Greenberg, in his typical, unnecessarily aggressive fashion, writes another good column for ESPNChicago about the Cubs’ failings in the first half, and the story lines that carry into the second half. It’s a good read if you can get past the open disdain for the Cubs. It reads like a talented and thoughtful Rosenbloom piece. (Seriously, Jon: you wrap insightful bits in such obvious antipathy that I’m not really sure what audience you’re trying to reach. The unsolicited, unqualified advice here is not to let the heel-ness obscure the talent.)
- There is chatter that the Pirates won’t be able to sign first round pick Mark Appel, and the Orioles won’t be able to sign first round pick Kevin Gausman. If those things happen, the Pirates will get the number 9 pick next year as compensation, and the Orioles will get the number 5 pick. If that plays out (not a certainty), that means, if you think the Cubs are long out of playoff contention, you’re hoping that they at least finish in the bottom eight, and more hopefully the bottom four. Otherwise, their first round pick is going to be bumped back.
- I keep forgetting to include this in the Bullets, so I thank the many of you who’ve passed it on over the past few days. It’s the first set of pictures of Jorge Soler in a Cubs uniform. And they are glorious.
- (The picture is from each of Castro’s and LaHair’s media sessions this week, and came from the Cubs’ Twitter account.)