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Cubs Mon Jul 04 2011

All-Star Berth Continues Castro's Breakout Season

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cubs.gifAt 21, Starlin Castro has not only captured the attention of Cubs fans, but also Bruce Bochy, the manager of the 2011 National League All-Stars. Castro nabbed his first all-star honor, becoming the youngest in franchise history. His .312 batting average, along with a .341 on-base percentage and 110 hits earned him the first of what could be many all-star appearances.

2011 mlb all star logo.jpgIf the Cubs were in contention this year the argument could've been made that Castro might have been elected to start, but the Mets' Jose Reyes has been in MVP form this season. However, that's not saying that in the future he won't be a starter in the All-Star Game at some point in his career. He's too good not to be one eventually. If he can clean up his defense and hit for a little bit more power he'd be a shoo-in for the starting spot at some point down the road.

Of course, not everyone can go to the All-Star Game on July 12, which begs the question who else on the Cubs may have been worthy of a reserve spot. To be completely honest, no one really. Sure a few guys have come on strong in the last few weeks, but no one on this Cubs team other than Castro has had an all-star year.

Aramis Ramirez has been on fire since the weather has heated up. In his past 11 games he is hitting .400 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs. However, his lack of offensive production in April and May really squashed any chances of him becoming an all-star again.

Another thought would be given to Carlos Pena, who like Ramirez has been hotter than a pistol. Pena has come on strong in the middle months of the season. He started off with not a single home run in April and is now leading the team with 17 homers and 44 RBIs. What hurt his chances is a .220 batting average -- not to mention having three MVP-quality first basemen in his own division in Prince Fielder, Joey Votto and the injured Albert Pujols.

One of the last fringe candidates is Sean Marshall. Marshall has been one of the most consistent relievers the Cubs have out of their bullpen. His numbers (2.09 ERA, 14 holds, 39/9 K/BB) aren't the absolute greatest, but truth be told he gets results. The main thing hurting his chances was the role he's in. He's not getting much notice as a set-up man. Logic suggests that having a guy like Marshall on his team for certain situations in the late innings wouldn't hurt. Unfortunately the managers for both sides usually load up on the best closers in their respective leagues, which isn't a bad idea.

During this dismal 2011 season Castro has been one of the bright spots for the Cubs. Hopefully he'll get to show the rest of the baseball world what Chicago fans have seen every day.

Also, check out Sunday's Futures Game to see Cubs minor-league outfielder Matthew Szczur in action for the U.S. team. The Villanova product is third in the Midwest League with a .312 batting average for Class-A Peoria.

 
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