View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



July 2011



The Roundtable: MVP & LVP

Written by , Posted in General

Who has been the Cubs most and least valuable player in 2011? Why?

MVP: On a team that’s been consistently flirting with a sub-.400 winning percentage is it possible to have an MVP?  I mean has anyone been “valuable” when we’re losing 60% of our games?  But since I’m supposed to pick someone, I’d say Castro.  He at least brings a level of interest to the Cubs that would otherwise be lacking.  He obviously the most valuable player for the franchise at this point as well.  I could also be talked into Matt Garza, mainly because he seems like he actually wants to go and pitch every fifth day – and that’s a rarity on our staff right now.  But I’ll settle with Castro.

LVP: Doesn’t it have to be Carlos Silva?  The man to whom we’ll pay $7.75mil to NOT play (and some of that doesn’t get paid until 2012).  Especially considering how many starts have been claimed by Russell, Coleman, Davis, Ortiz, Lopez, etc. – Silva has to be the LVP of the 2011 Cubs.  I’m supposed to pick someone who has been on the roster?  Most everyone on the current roster could make a case for it, Dempster’s April; Soriano & Soto’s inconsistency; Ramirez, Pena, and Zambrano’s streakiness just to name a few.  Everyone in the bullpen has had bouts of ineffectiveness.  Can this be a team award?  I want to give it to the manager, but I know some of you would protest and absolve him of all guilt (except picking that nag in the fifth at Santa Anita over the weekend, he’s owned up to that pick).  Alright, I’ll take John Grabow from the current roster, because when he’s called to the mound I throw up a little in my mouth. ~ Jedi Johnson

MVP: Aramis Ramirez is the best baseball player on the Cubs this season. Ridicule him for the effort, but the fact is that his bat has been the best on the team, and Starlin Castro’s erratic defense is enough to drop him behind Ramirez. But Castro is the only glimmer of hope for the future and that’s important enough to make him the most *valuable* player. Watching him play and progress seems to be the only reason to watch the big league team these days. We look forward to the trade deadline, then the signing of draft picks, and then the waiver trade deadline…but the only reason to watch the Cubs is for Starlin Castro.

LVP:  Tyler Colvin has a stat line of .105/.175/.211 for a .386 OPS in 104 plate app’s. He had a solid rookie year that (unrealistically) blew up the expectations, but even the most pessimistic couldn’t foresee a season like this. Of anyone with 100 PA, Colvin’s .105 average is last by a landslide. Mike Cameron came next at .144. He’s even sucking in Iowa and sports a 40/4 K/BB ratio with a .284 OBP. ~ Norm Bothwell

MVP: Deciding on the Most Valuable Player for the first half of the season required little thought.  I am sure most of us agree that 21 year old shortstop Starlin Castro is the only deserving candidate.  His .307 batting average leads the team among players with enough at bats to qualify.  His 117 hits also rates first on the club.  The lone Cubs All-Star is also deserving of MVP honors because he provides the team with a player to potentially build around for its next resurgence into the top of the standings.  The only knock on Castro is his inconsistent defense.  He is known for making dazzling plays but struggling with those that are routine.  However, every indication is that he will improve with experience.  Starlin is the only young player that Cubs fans have to be excited about watching develop during the second half.

LVP: While naming an MVP was simple, nominating a Least Valuable Player is much more difficult because there are so many candidates!  The one player that has been disappointing enough to earn this nod is starting pitcher Randy Wells.  He was placed on the disabled list after his first start of the year.  It is possible that something is still wrong with Randy, because his stuff has significantly dropped off from the prior years.  In nine starts, he is 1-3 with an ERA of 6.80.  He is winless in eight tries since being activated from the DL.  Wells has surrendered four or more earned runs in six of the eight outings.  The only hope is that he is still being nagged by the injury and will soon return to form.  If he does not get back on track, Wells could be another Rich Hill. ~ Brandon Vickrey

MVP:  Aramis Ramirez. Despite a slow power start, Ramirez finished the first half with an OPS of .847. He’s still a suspect defender, but on a team starved for offense, his bat makes up for his glove.

LVP:  So many contenders! Dempster, Wells, Coleman, Davis, and Soto to name a few. If you put a gun to my head, I guess I’d pick Dempster. He’s racked up 111 innings of a 5.00 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. This is a pitcher who was supposed to lead a “deep” pitching staff. Of course, a funny thing happened along the way. OK, maybe not so funny. ~ Buddy

MVP: I initially wanted to say Sean Marshall, since he’s maybe our most consistent player, and often his job is to save this self-destructive team from itself.  But I think it has to go to Starlin Castro, especially if you consider what he brings to the team in addition to his bat and glove.  While there are other guys on the team who still overshadow him when it comes to name-recognition, their careers are winding down.  He’s the future of the franchise, and someday soon, he’ll be the face of it, too.  And as the team slides further out of contention, he’s fast-becoming the only reason to tune in every day.  Whoever replaces Jim Hendry this offseason—because I have to assume that Ricketts isn’t stupid enough to keep him around, or I’ll just completely lose it—will have the privilege of rebuilding around one of the brightest young talents in baseball, and one of the most valuable players the Cubs have had in many years.

LVP:  As a further indictment on Jim Hendry, I’m tempted to put down the rest of the team.  Really very few of the Cubs have played up to their contracts this year—other have set new career-lows for their individual performance.  But that defies the spirit of the question, so instead I’ll say it’s a photo finish between Jeff Samardzija and John Grabow. At most you can tolerate one ineffective relief pitcher in your bullpen.  The Cubs have two, and their high salaries will keep them around until their contracts run out at the end of the season.  It’s hard to be the worst players on a team this bad—Samardzija and Grabow make it look easy. ~ Jeremiah Johnson

MVP: Since Jeremiah isn’t going to go with Sean Marshall, I will. It’s hard to accurately assess just how good he’s been because the Cubs just haven’t seen the amount of games with a lead to really make him as valuable as he should be. He’s seen his k/9 ratio go up and his walks / 9 ratio go down. He continues to be on my top three favorite Cubs list, a list he shares with Kerry Wood and Matt Garza. I’d love to see what his value is on the trade market because of the fact that he’s been great in the late innings, throws lefty, and is cheap.

LVP: I don’t like Geovany Soto. Never have, and never will. I think he’s an overrated offensive catcher. He had a nice year last year, but that was hitting out of the 7th and 8th spots in the order. There is no pressure in those spots. He hit 23 homeruns in 2003, a total he will never again reach in his career. I’d love to see him shopped as well. – ~ Joe Aiello

  • @Joe…pegging Geo as the least valuable Cub is akin to Seinfeld trying to return the jacket “out of spite.”

  • Brandon


    I was surprised to see Samardzija as your co-LVP. There are many worse candidates on the team. Shark’s ERA actually ranks second among Cubs relievers behind only Marshall.

  • Norm

    Soto since 2008 with a minimum of 1300 plate app’s:
    1st in BB rate
    4th most home runs
    6th best OBP
    6th SLG

  • Norm

    *among catcher, that is.

  • Norm – I still hate him

  • MVP: I give it to Castro. He is the peg upon which my hope for the future hangs.

    LVP: Soriano. Overpaid, uninterested. Yesterday he made a nice catch on the warning track. Admit it, when he did that you were momentarily stunned with disbelief. It wasn’t a great catch, almost routine, but when Soriano made it….

  • Randy

    MVP: Ramirez, he had a slow start which can be partially attributed terrible weather in Chicago. Otherwise since May he’s been one of the best hitters in the league.
    LVP: Tyler Colvin. I feel bad for saying this, but with his open swing it was clear that advanced scouting reports were going to eat him alive this year. He may never recover, but getting to hit a homer at Wrigley is more than the rest of us will be able to tell the grandkids.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Brandon–I’ll grant you he has been better in July. His numbers are improving, in part because two of the runs he’s surrendered this month were inherited runners, and the other was unearned.

    His numbers weren’t nearly so good earlier in the season. In fact, back when Wood and Marmol were pitching well, he pretty much only appeared in mop-up duty in games that were already out of hand. And even though he’s doing better now, he’s not a guy I’d trust with a tight lead.

    But like I said above, the Cubs are chock full of least-valuable players, so there’s almost no wrong answer (except maybe Joe’s :)) In this case, I let my lack of confidence in Grabow and Samardzija be the deciding factor.

  • greg

    MVP- Ramirez
    LVP- Fukudome…I hate that guy!

  • lizzie

    @Joe you mean his smoldering sensuality and luscious Latin looks don’t make you fluttery deep in your loins????? Must just be me!!

  • CurlystoogeIU

    MVP: Castro with Ramirez than Pena close behind. If the last two had stared the season with what they are producing now, it would be them.

    LVP: Zambrano. He has been the definition of inconsistent. And considering this was a guy a few years back proclaiming his CY Young award, he hasn’t come close.

  • Norm

    I’m surprised by all the different LVP calls to be honest. Most of the guys mentioned have actually given the Cubs positive production.

  • Jedi

    (Had to wash up after Lizzie’s comment)

    Joe – after Soto, who is your next LVP? Then we’ll have the unbiased answer.

  • Buddy

    I like Soto, but he hasn’t been very good through 95-ish games. Same for Dempster. However, I’m pretty sure both will come around by year’s end and finish with decent numbers. After all, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played. The question was about MVP and LVP up to that point of the 2011 season, which I think was the all star break. As for Davis, Coleman, and Wells, calling their 2011 performances “terrible” would be a massive understatement.

  • Doc Raker

    The Cubs are doing well at.402, better than Ted Williams. Oh wait, that is winning percentage not batting average. Nevermind.

  • Yavelberg

    @Joe – I may not necessarily agree with you about Soto being the least valuable; he’s still a better hitter than Hill and he handles the pitchers pretty well. I do, however, understand the feeling of hating a player even when presented with evidence that they are fairly productive. I feel that exact same way about Alfonso Soriano, even during his hot streaks. I know he’s good, I know he has talent, I know his hot streaks can carry the team. But I just don’t like him and I never really have.

  • Yavelberg

    The more I was thinking about it, Carlos Zambrano is a better example than Soriano. We all know about Soriano’s shortcomings, but we were expecting them because of his age. Zambrano always managed to give off that sense of hope that things would be different this time around. He’s also been a little more consistently productive than Soriano.

  • @Lizzie – That description of Soto made me laugh out loud. It’s a good thing I was on hold and not reading something while on the phone with a customer.

    @Jedi – Next would probably be John Grabow. He’s just not lived up to that contract.

    @Yavelberg – That’s the thing. Geo has NOT been very productive. He has an OPS+ at 98, which is 2% below league avg. Only Darwin Barney is lower among our regulars and he’s at 90. Good to see people think he’s untouchable.

  • Yavelberg

    @Joe – I wouldn’t say Geo’s untouchable (it’s hard to say anyone’s untouchable on a team near a .400 winning percentage). I just wouldn’t have jumped to least valuable and I agree about definitely not being his biggest fan. And perhaps I should have written “somewhat productive” instead of “fairly.” According to, he’s just under halfway to most of his totals from last year:

    2010: 47 runs, 90 hits, 17 HRs, 53 RBI, .280 AVG

    2011: 26 runs, 56 hits, 8 HRs, 23 RBI, .235 AVG

    Granted, he’s already played 70 games this year and last year he played in 105, so it’s not like he has exactly another half a season to double his production. But if he were to get a little hot here or there (with his baseball production, Lizzie, calm down), I could see him coming close to, if not meeting, his totals from last year. Which, by the way, I would still describe as “somewhat productive.”

  • Eddie Von White

    Tyler Colvin better come back. Earlier this year the Cubs had to cancel Tyler Colvin bobble head night because of bad weather. That was a shame because he had the walk off hit the night before in the bottom of the 10th that gave the Cubs the win. They still have 10,000 bobble heads to give away. Do they get that many fans at a minor league game?

  • Norm

    Geo’s definitely been down this year, but a 98 OPS+ from a *catcher* is still pretty valuable. And this is his WORST year.

  • Norm

    *actually not his last year….
    2008: 118
    2009: 80
    2010: 130
    2011: 98

  • Doc Raker

    My old school scouting eyes have noted Smarja has made nice improvements over the season. He has command of his pitches and has been effective of late. For you saber dudes that need numbers to convince you his whip for April and May was 1.60 and his whip for June and July is 1.13. The trend is a positive one and as long as a young player continues to show improvement I think it wise to keep him. The Cubs pitching staff is 29th in whip at 1.47 while Seattle leads the bigs at 1.17 so I would think 1.13 is pretty good, as little knowledge of stats I have.

  • walterj

    mvp …ramirez lvp…grabow . i do agree with those that say geo should be traded IF it is of something of value . not just as a throw away .

  • Buddy

    I don’t want Soto traded either, unless the Cubs can fleece somebody of course.

  • Buddy

    Doc is impressing me on three levels:

    1) He knows what WHIP means
    2) He used it correctly in a sentence
    3) He knows how to look up player logs and split stats

    Way to go Doc!

  • Doc Raker

    You know Buddy some consider the WHIP stat a better barometer of a pitcher than ERA and certainly better than wins or loses.

  • Buddy

    You’re on a roll Doc! Keep it up!

  • Norm

    Samardzija is making $3.3M this season…is that worth exercising his 2012 option?? I assume it would be more than that.
    So the Cubs will NOT exercise that option, but maybe they’ll try to get him cheaper as a free agent.
    I do not want him. He walks way too many guys.

  • PackerCubBull

    I’m with norm, down with Sasuckzidja. I don’t like him, he sucks. Plus he went to Notre Dame.

  • PackerCubBull

    And my vote for LVP is Pena. Because he didn’t hit in April and along with Ramirez, that sunk the Cubs. That big 1B from South Korea, Kim Tae-Kyun, would look really good in Cubbie Blue. KIM TAE-KYUN! KIM TAE-KYUN! KIM TAE-KYUN!

  • chris in illinois

    Pitcher wins would be the second most stupid stat there is (behind saves)…look at this year’s all-star game, the “winning pitcher” was the one guy in the entire game who didn’t actually retire anyone. Clearly Tyler Clippard has learned how to win.

  • Doc Raker

    I know, I hate the way W are awarded, I think the W should be awarded to the pitcher that got the majority of the outs. A guy pitches 7 strong innings, bullpen loses the lead, offense wins it late and the W goes to the pitcher who happened to be in the line up when the lead is regained. Silly.

  • Yavelberg

    I dunno, PCB… we’ve had bad luck in the past with Korean first basemen…

  • PackerCubBull

    You’re going to say that based on the performance of 1 1B, in the history of all 1B!?

  • Eddie Von White

    @PackerCubBull – Yes

  • PackerCubBull

    I thought Choi was going to be a fixture for years to come and he was looking like it until he collided with Woody. And then the Marlins offered Lee for him. You don’t turn down a deal like that. The Cubs were set on Choi at 1B in 2004 until the Marlins called.

  • Buddy

    The list of prospect busts is long and painful: Choi, Bobby Hill, Ty Griffin, Lance Dickson, Earl Cunningham, Jessie Hollins, Gary Scott, Kevin Orie, just to name a few.