The Roundtable: MVP & LVP
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