Mid-Season Awards

The second half of the Cubs season will get underway later today but before everyone gets back to the business at hand, let’s take one last look at the first half of the season with a couple of CCO Ivy Awards and what the writers here feel will be the keys to the Cubs in the second half. So without further ado….

Shaun’s Awards and Predictions

  • First-Half MVP: Aramis Ramirez
  • Biggest Surprise of the First Half: Fontenot/Theriot (Bayou Boys)
  • Biggest Disappointment of the First Half: Inconsistency in CF (Felix Pie)
  • Best Off-Season Signing: Alfonso Soriano (I love DeRosa but I had to go with the Fonz)
  • Worst Off-Season Signing: I don’t have one (I think they have all been good)
  • Biggest Addition to 25-Man Roster: Mike Fontenot
  • Best Moment of First Half: Aramis’ walk-off against Milwaukee
  • Worst Moment of First Half: Dempster imploding against the New York Mets
  • Keys to Second Half: Rich Hill and Sean Marshall need to perform to their potential and the shuffling in CF needs to stop. We need to put up some solid wins against southpaws.
  • Prediction for Second Half of Season: Cubs over take Brewers by mid August hold off a late run and win the division.
  • Who would you like to see off the 25-Man Roster in the Second Half: Cesar Izturis
  • Who would you like to see added before the July 31st Trade Deadline? Ken Griffey, Jr. – never going to happen.

Tom’s Awards and Predictions

  • First-Half MVP: Aramis Ramirez
  • Biggest Surprise of the First Half: Mike Fontenot
  • Biggest Disappointment of the First Half: Cubs Bullpen and Jacque Jones
  • Best Off-Season Signing: Alfonso Soriano
  • Worst Off-Season Signing: Wade Miller re-signing
  • Biggest Addition to 25-Man Roster: Mike Fontenot
  • Best Moment of First Half: Cubs scoring 2 in bottom of the 9th to beat Colorado
  • Worst Moment of First Half: Cubs giving up 6 runs in the top of the 9th to Colorado
  • Keys to Second Half: Pitching and timely hitting
  • Prediction for Second Half of Season: Cubs catch the Brewers and win the NL Central by 5 games
  • Who would you like to see off the 25-Man Roster in the Second Half: Jacque Jones
  • Who would you like to see added before the July 31st Trade Deadline? Ken Griffey, Jr.

Brian’s Awards and Predictions

  • First-Half MVP: Aramis Ramirez
  • Biggest Surprise of the First Half: Mike Fontenot
  • Biggest Disappointment of the First Half: Jacque Jones
  • Best Off-Season Signing: Alfonso Soriano
  • Worst Off-Season Signing: None
  • Biggest Addition to 25-Man Roster: Alfonso Soriano
  • Best Moment of First Half: A-Ram’s walk off against the Brewers
  • Worst Moment of First Half: The 9th inning collapse against the Mets
  • Keys to Second Half: Bullpen consistency
  • Prediction for Second Half of Season: 15 games above .500, make playoffs
  • Who would you like to see off the 25-Man Roster in the Second Half: Jacque Jones
  • Who would you like to see added before the July 31st Trade Deadline? Ryan Doumit

Jason’s Awards and Predictions

  • First-Half MVP: Carlos Zambrano – he could have let his poor start, fight with Barrett, and lack of contract talks sour his attitude. Instead, he declared it a new season, and I think his confidence helped the team put together their great run in June.
  • Biggest Surprise of the First Half: Sean Marshall – he has less starts, but has probably given the Cubs as many quality starts as Rich Hill. He has made it look easy, and has acted like a veteran, so you take his success for granted.
  • Biggest Disappointment of the First Half: Scott Eyre – Is he injured? Is it just one of those seasons? The dominant left-handed setup man from 2006 was dearly missed, and a big reason our season started so poorly.
  • Best Off-Season Signing: Alfonso Soriano – not because he is overachieving, but simply because he truly is an elite player, and while his numbers right now are good, you get the feeling he is just warming up.
  • Worst Off-Season Signing: Wade Miller / Mark Prior – the gamble was worth it, but with the luxury of hindsight, the Cubs could have spent the money elsewhere (such as locking up Zambrano when Hendry had the chance). My choices are based only on this year, because as sad as it sounds, I would still want to see what Prior can do next year, and signing him in 2007 gave us the chance to hold onto his rights.
  • Biggest Addition to 25-Man Roster: Carlos Marmol – something like 40 Ks in 28 innings?! He helped shore up a failing bullpen, and like Soriano, you have the feeling his contributions may be even greater as the season progresses, especially if Dempster breaks down physically.
  • Best Moment of First Half: Soriano’s 3 homers in one game. His power numbers were down up to that point, and seeing his explosion was reassuring. His contract may indeed be insane, but his athletic ability is off the charts.
  • Worst Moment of First Half: The Barrett/Zambrano fight. Events like that either destroy or rally a team. You have to remember when it happened that everyone wanted Zambrano traded, you felt like Lou was just going to quit a few months into his 3 year deal, and the season was so much wasted potential.
  • Keys to Second Half: 2B, SS, CF, and the bullpen. While Fontenot, Theriot, and DeRosa have been decent, they are all unproven as starters over a full season. I want Pie in at CF, but I worry we are about to get a big dose of Jones and Pagan instead. Will Eyre remember how to pitch, will Marmol stay magnificent, and will Kerry Wood take the field?
  • Prediction for Second Half of Season: I feel like the starting pitching will come down to Earth a bit, but the offense should come alive, so it should be a wash. So I expect they will play above .500 baseball, finishing with 88-89 wins, and likely the division title. The Cheese Curds will falter.
  • Who would you like to see off the 25-Man Roster in the Second Half: Jacque Jones, one of our young catchers, and probably Izturis. Jones and Izturis because they are just taking up space. I want one of the catchers gone, because that will mean either Blanco is healthy or we traded for a better catcher.
  • Who would you like to see added before the July 31st Trade Deadline? Jason Kendall – I think he could get a rebirth to his career back in the NL. Or any decent catcher for that matter. The reason is because I continue to dislike having a weak-hitting catcher, combined with rookies or career backups at 4 of our 8 positions (C, CF, SS, and 2B). That is asking for trouble. Believe me, I hope they prove me wrong, but if you spent this much on building a “World Series Team” you can’t have question marks in 1/2 of your lineup.

Neil’s Awards and Predictions

  • First-Half MVP: Mark DeRosa
  • Biggest Surprise of the First Half: Carlos Marmol
  • Biggest Disappointment of the First Half: Cesar Izturis
  • Best Off-Season Signing: Mark DeRosa
  • Worst Off-Season Signing: Not really a signing but a trade, Neal Cotts for David Aardsma. Granted Aardsma has stunk up the South Side, but with Piniella’s desire to have hard throwers in his pen, one with Major League experience would be nice to have right now.
  • Biggest Addition to 25-Man Roster: Sean Marshall
  • Best Moment of First Half: Alfonso Soriano’s single in the bottom of the 9th against the Rockies
  • Worst Moment of First Half: Opening Day – when the Tribune announced the Cubs would be sold at the end of the season. The Tribune “stuck it” to the Faithful one more time.
  • Keys to Second Half: Solving the problems with hitting against left handed pitching. This problem has gone under the radar until recently but if Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry do not fix this, teams will alter their rotations just to throw as many lefties as they can at the Cubs.
  • Prediction for Second Half of Season: The Cubs have a shot at the division but as Piniella has mentioned they will need to improve in several areas. The Cardinals are cause for concern, they are starting to get healthy and are just 3 games behind the Cubs. This division will come down to the wire between the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals, with all finishing above .500. The rest of the division will have a big say so in the final standings and teams like the Astros, Pirates and Reds will have a big impact in the second half. If the Cubs win the division, the Brewers will be the wild card and visa versa. Come the end of July we will all know what type of team this is.
  • Who would you like to see off the 25-Man Roster in the Second Half: Cesar Izturis. He is the only current Cub on the 25-man roster that is not signed for next season (Izturis has a club option on his 2008 contract). Izturis’ spot is very important right now. He has not been good defensively this season and cannot be used for a pinch hitter, other than in blowout games, so his value to Piniella is less than any other player considering the financial hold apparently on Jim Hendry.
  • Who would you like to see added before the July 31st Trade Deadline? In a perfect world, Ken Griffey, Jr. but it will cost too much, both financially and with prospects. Kenny Lofton, granted it is hard to catch lighting in a bottle twice, but he would fit in nicely behind Soriano and he appears to be healthy and is only signed for this season. He would not add to next year’s payroll and the Rangers could not possibly want too much in return….plus he is a winner.

Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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