Blake's stats are not translating into votes

Blake's stats are not translating into votes

LOS ANGELES -- For all the discussion over the All-Star chances of a player who isn't currently playing, the "other" player acquired by the Dodgers last summer is putting up numbers actually deserving of such consideration.

Casey Blake isn't ranked among the top five National League third basemen in the latest All-Star voting, but he should be. Manager Joe Torre mentioned Blake, as well as second baseman Orlando Hudson, as the Dodgers position players most deserving of a berth.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 8:59 p.m. PT.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.

The 80th All-Star Game will be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 14 and televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Blake has never made an All-Star team, and in the National League, the position has high-profile competitors like David Wright of the Mets and Chipper Jones of the Braves.

But through the weekend, Blake was hitting .400 since teammate Manny Ramirez was suspended. On the season, he's batting .305 and .400 against left-handed pitching. He leads the club with nine home runs.

Meanwhile, Ramirez's candidacy for the All-Star Game remains a hot topic of conversation around baseball.

Ramirez, ranked fourth among NL outfielders in the first voting update, slipped to fifth this time behind Ryan Braun, Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran.

In recent days, Torre has said he doesn't think Ramirez should be an All-Star this year.

"No, I don't, and if you ask Manny, he'd give you the same answer," said Torre. "I understand a lot of it is a popularity contest and you want to give the manager the best players, but to me, the significance of the All-Star Game is to reward players who had a good first half. ...

"Manny's popularity is why he's gotten votes. Realistically, he didn't have, except for reputation, a right to be an All-Star. It probably isn't the right thing for him this year, from the baseball aspect, I've got to think."

Late last week, Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt offered a different view on whether he would want Ramirez to play in the All-Star Game.

"I'm sure it would be a great honor," McCourt said. "The fans will make up their own minds."

Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star, is serving a 50-game suspension for violating the Major League Baseball drug policy. His suspension is scheduled to end July 3.

On Friday, Commissioner Bud Selig told The Arizona Republic that he is keeping an eye on the All-Star voting numbers, and is weighing his options in the event that Ramirez wins election to the Midsummer Classic.

"I'm going to think about that," Selig said. "He doesn't come back till July 3. Normally, I'm sensitive to the wishes of the fans. If the fans choose someone, I'd like to honor that. But we've been testing players for a long time, and it bothers me that someone would [cheat] at this stage in the game. I've got some time to think about this one."

The most recent vote totals also indicated that Dodgers catcher Russell Martin slipped from fourth to fifth behind Yadier Molina, Jason Kendall, Ivan Rodriguez and Brian McCann.

Hudson, however, moved up a notch from third to second at second base behind Chase Utley. The only other ranking Dodgers were outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, the former dropping from 11th to 13th, the latter rising from 14th to 12th.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.