Senior Baseball Columnist

The Anti-All Stars: Position-by-position, this season's most disappointing players

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The Marlins' Heath Bell has blown five saves as closer, posting an ERA of 6.19. (US Presswire)  
The Marlins' Heath Bell has blown five saves as closer, posting an ERA of 6.19. (US Presswire)  

Some folks in life just need a little help.

Like the guy who recently shot a man in Arizona but was arrested after witnesses ID'd him ... by the Yankees tattoo on his, um, face.

Like Otis the Town Drunk, who was affectionately nudged along by ol' Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith, thanks for the memories).

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Like the Cubs, who are in about their 100th year of playing like they have no idea what to get Millie and Jimmy as a wedding present.

Like the guy looking for the lost ball in tall weeds: A little help, please.

Did someone not suggest to the Arizona reprobate that if he intended to shoot someone, maybe he should have skipped the Yankees and instead ordered a Spiderman face tattoo so witnesses could have instead fingered Andrew Garfield for the crime?

Did someone not suggest to Otis that perhaps he could spend more time devouring Aunt Bea's banana cream pies and less time draining the rye whiskey?

Has someone still not told the Cubs that candlesticks, or place-settings, or silverware patterns, make nice wedding gifts?

Point is, there are solutions out there. And fortunately, as always at this time of year -- this is our 13th annual Anti-All Star team -- we're here to help.

So first bit of advice to the few, the not-so-proud, the 2012 Anti-All Stars comes straight from Mayberry (which, by the way, might be the only place that would currently welcome this motley crew).

It was getting late one summer's night when Andy hollered for Opie to quit playing and come on inside ... Opie pleaded for just a few more minutes.

Andy told him OK, then turned to Barney Fife and explained: "Daylight's precious when you're a youngin'."

If you remember nothing else from this summer, remember that excellent piece of wisdom.

That especially goes for these guys, who currently are lost in the midnight darkness. ...

Catcher: Nick Hundley, Padres.

More than a new suit for travel, what Hundley really needed coming into this year was an emergency disaster preparedness kit. Poor guy spent the better part of the past four years in the majors, earned a four-year, $9 million contract this spring ... and currently is earning it in Tucson, Ariz. Before the Padres mercifully shipped him to Triple-A in late June, it reached the point where Hundley may as well have taken a table leg, ala the late Norm Cash, to the plate instead of a bat.

He was hitting .166 when dispatched to Tucson ... but it was a soft .166. Then Yasmani Grandal, Hundley's replacement, joined the Padres in Colorado and became the first player in history to homer from each side of the plate for his first two major-league hits. Can you say "Wally Pipp"? The Cubs' Geovany Soto (.163, five homers, 9 RBI in 38 games) was considered, but he came with a doctor's note: He gets a break because of his back injury.

First base: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins.

From the All-Star Game to the Mendoza Line quicker than you can say "Whatever happened to those Marlins negotiations with Albert Pujols last winter?" Fresh off of the All-Star Game in Arizona last year, Sanchez was so ineffective and lost earlier this year that he was optioned, Hundley-like, to Triple-A earlier this season. Before he was recalled a month ago, Sanchez was last seen hanging around New Orleans with a sign, "I Will Play for Gumbo." But this was no Jimmy Buffett concert, even though Sanchez was swinging like he was wearing flip-flops and a coconut bra. He's back, but he's hitting just .202 with three homers and 17 RBI.

Second base: Rickie Weeks, Brewers.

The Brewers won their first division title in 25 years last summer during an inspirational sprint that packed Miller Park nightly, reinforcing the fact that Milwaukee sports fans are second to none. There are many reasons why the Brewers' encore has been a dud, among them the departure of Prince Fielder, a keg's worth of injuries and, inexplicably, a lost season from Weeks. Here's how awful he's been: His current .195 batting average is up significantly from where it was just a few weeks ago (.162). It was cute back in April when his average was down but he was taking his walks. Now it's just downright ugly. His on-base percentage is .314, down from .350 last year, and his average is down from .269 last year.

The Phillies' Freddy Galvis, suspended for failing a performance-enhancing drug test, was a knee-jerk choice for the Anti-All Star second baseman, but considering what the Brewers are not getting from Weeks, who is in the second year four-year, $38.5 million deal, he's our guy. On, Wisconsin.

Shortstop: Brendan Ryan, Mariners.

Yes, he can pick it. With the glove, he's like Guy Fieri cranking out the hits on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. But with the bat, he's the overwhelmed guy behind the counter at Subway as the lunch line grows ever longer. The Mariners are failing to score runs at a level not seen since the designated hitter was instituted in 1973. They're desperate for sticks. And at shortstop, Ryan is making Dee Gordon look like the second-coming of Cal Ripken, hitting, amazingly, 47 points lower (.182 vs. .229) and posting an on-base percentage of just five points higher (.285 to .280). But Gordon has swiped 30 bags, compared to Ryan's seven. Memo to Seattle manager Eric Wedge: Maybe consider batting your pitcher, and using the DH for the shortstop spot. Just sayin'.

Third base: Orlando Hudson, White Sox.

The David Copperfield of the Anti-All Star team: Hudson has managed to make two jobs disappear even before the All-Star break. After losing the second base gig in San Diego, he played his way out of the third base role in Chicago and the Sox acquired Kevin Youkilis. This is one of the most staggering realities of the season: Hudson has been so bad that the Padres elected to waive him and eat what was left of his $5.5 million deal even though they're maintaining the majors' lowest payroll. They're struggling to make ends meet, and they still told him adios. Signed last year to be a positive veteran presence, he instead contributed to the Padres sinking to 91 losses after winning 90 in 2010. His lowlight: Flipping the ball into the stands last July after catching a popup for the second out of an inning, costing the Padres a run -- after which, he explained it away by saying "that's baseball" and he "thought it was funny." Yeah, some veteran influence.

Left field: Chone Figgins, Mariners.

Now a two-time Anti-All Star, Figgins finally is showing some versatility (though not the kind the Mariners were hoping for). Our third baseman last year, Figgins makes it as a left fielder this year. Wherever he plays in Seattle, he has been sadly ineffective. So much for a new start -- remember this spring, when the M's bumped Ichiro Suzuki down to third in the batting order and installed Figgins at their new leadoff man? It was a last-ditch effort to re-ignite Figgins, and like everything else Figgy in Seattle, that didn't work, either. He's hitting just .186 with a .245 on-base percentage in 51 games. Last time someone disappeared this badly in Seattle, it was Richie Sexson's photo on the sides of milk cartons. You look back to Figgins' glory days with the Angels now and wonder: Was it really him, or did someone Photoshop the pictures to make it look like Figgins?

Center field: Cameron Maybin, Padres.

In smashing the longest homer in baseball this season, a 485-foot shot in Colorado on Monday, Maybin only caused more folks to scratch their heads. What's happened to this guy? He's regressed badly, both offensively and defensively, after signing a five-year, $25 million extension this spring. Instead of a launching pad for Maybin, last season looks more like a mirage. At this point, the Swingin' Friar could do more damage.

Right field: Marlon Byrd, free agent.

Say hello to The Biggest Loser. He stubbornly continued to work with Victor Conte even after BALCO. Though he was not fingered in BALCO, he knew the entire baseball world was watching him closely because of his relationship with Conte. And he still managed to fail a PED test. And while taking the banned stuff, he mustered three whole extra-base hits for the Cubs (none) and Red Sox (three) in 153 plate appearances before Boston sent him packing. Nice knowing ya, Byrd-brain. Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki was under consideration until Byrd's suspension.

Designated hitter: Jesus Montero, Mariners.

Montero is one of only 10 DHs with more than 130 at-bats and, as a DH, he's hitting .192 with two homers and 13 RBI. Throw in his ABs while catching, and this stat is more difficult to choke down than a mouthful of cauliflower: Montero collected exactly one (1) RBI in the entire month of June, in 23 games. That raging debate last winter regarding who got the better end of the Michael Pineda-for-Montero trade? It's evaporated more quickly than Glee's ratings. And Montero has started July 0 for 9, by the way.

Starting pitchers: Cliff Lee, Phillies; Tim Lincecum, Giants; Freddy Garcia, Yankees; Tommy Hunter, Orioles.

Like the barbecued ribs we're about to order next week at the real All-Star Game in Kansas City, we couldn't go with only one here. We get that starting pitchers don't control wins the way they once did given today's bullpens, but for Lee to have zero wins on the morning of July 4 is the most incredible number of the summer. Lincecum is getting boxed around the way Ali's sparring partner once did. Garcia was the only guy who grumbled when the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte this spring, worried that it would cut him out of a job ... then went out and compiled a 12.51 ERA in four April starts. He couldn't even get out of the second inning in his last two April starts ... which is why he didn't get another one until Monday. Hunter was bounced to Triple-A Norfolk by the Orioles after allowing 20 homers in just 81 innings pitched. Duck!

Closer: Heath Bell, Marlins.

There are lots of reasons why the Marlins are the most disappointing club this side of the Phillies, and they're not all Bell. But his late-innings failures are a big part of it, especially considering the three-year, $27 million deal he signed last winter. The latest debacle came the other day in Milwaukee, when the Marlins trailed 9-2 into the seventh, stormed back to take the lead in the 10th inning ... only to watch Bell surrender a two-run, game-losing homer to Aramis Ramirez. He's blown five saves, lost four games and has compiled a 6.19 ERA. Soon, David Caruso and the rest of the CSI: Miami gang will be investigating.

Manager: Ozzie Guillen, Marlins.

Ozzie ... your thoughts on Fidel Castro?

Ozzie ... your thoughts on Gaby Sanchez?

Ozzie ... your thoughts on Heath Bell?

Ozzie ... your thoughts on the first-place Chicago White Sox?

Know what? Daylight is precious when you're a not-so-youngin', too.

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