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Before we even get this foolish MVP talk started, a note of business.

Monster.com is offering a ridiculously cool opportunity as part of their sponsorship of the MLB All-Star Game. While you can view their press release here, the basic gist is that a lucky entrant will snag two tickets to the ASG as well as press credentials, plane tickets, the opportunity to interview an All-Star, the ability to liveblog the whole thing AND lodging/airfare/spending money. The contest runs until Sunday and can be accessed by clicking on the banner. Gotta love contests.

On another note, your blogger's fortunes have changed. Last year I began the season 0-5 at Shea, while rallying and finishing strong. This year, today's win pushed me to 2-0. I saw the Yanks vanquished by the Sandman on Sunday night and now I caught David Wright and Jose Reyes wreck Eric Milton and his goofy changeups. The ball was carrying well, as neither of Wright's homers looked gone from where I was sitting, right near home plate.

Today was a welcome respite from the agitation of Ryan Freel, a player whose 14.7 VORP ranks him right in between Jeff Kent and David Eckstein. That ranks him 40th among all National Leaguers. 42nd? None other than Carlos Delgado. Wretched, eh? Wright and Beltran rank 3rd and 4th respectively, with Reyes the next Met hitter at 13th despite his unsabermetric style of baseball.

I don't think David Wright's performance this year is all about batting behind Delgado. Even when he has Father Time proceeding him, he can still hit. Really well.

Who didn't look so good today? Pedro. It seems like a columnist could write "Pedro: 'Ow my body part'" and it would be a factual story somewhere along the line. First his toe, then his hip after falling in Miami? Maybe the Mets ought to put him in a full body cast. He was okay today. His stuff looked live, but he was missing his spots occasionally. Was it the high socks?

Speaking of full body casts, I have mixed feelings on the news out of Chicago. Mark Prior is unhealthy, with his fastball barely touching 90 and his breaking stuff flat and fat. Kerry Wood is unable to throw more than sixty pitches in succession without pain. It's been a hobby of mine to rag on the two of them, both how Dusty Baker pitches his aces into the ground and how fragile Mark Prior inherently is. I want to think it's sad. Honestly, though, when you trade Dontrelle Willis for one season of six-fingered Antonio Alfonseca and two seasons of Matt Clement and his odd facial hair, aren't you asking for trouble?

Roger Clemens made his 2006 debut tonight. I think that's the first time anyone's written anything without making a pun about rockets. He was not good. Five innings. Eight baserunners. Six hits. Future star Francisco Liriano smacked the Astros around, to the tune of 2 runs over eight innings, whiffing seven while only allowing four hits. And the trade made by the San Francisco Giants with the Twins pales in comparison to Kazmir-Zambrano. The Giants gave up Liriano, nasty closer Joe Nathan and starter Boof Bonser (yes, that's his name) who has shown flashes of success in Minnesota. What'd they get back? Nothing but a one-season rental of A.J. Pierzynski. They declined him arbitration after he fought with their pitching staff.

So at this juncture in the season, it seems like a good idea to handicap the NL MVP race.

  • Mets: Carlos Beltran, David Wright
    Beltran has been phenomenal, hitting homers and walking as he used to while playing solid defense in center field. He's slugged .617, good for third among NL regulars while trailing only Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. Beltran has stolen 8 more bases than the two of them put together, however. Howard's OBP is also a good 40 points lower than Beltran's.

    What is there to say about David Wright? 17 homers and 60 RBI on the year and we're more than half a month from the ASB? He's hitting .338! His OBP is .405! He has 19 doubles and 2 triples on the year as well. 11 stolen bases. Plus, his defense at third is greatly improved. One other thing? He's hitting .436 against lefties. .522 OBP. .782 slugging. This kid is the real deal.

  • Braves: Andruw Jones
    Well, he drives in a lot of runs. He hits some homers. He plays Gold Glove-caliber defense in CF. Has he helped them win this year? No.

  • Marlins: Miguel Cabrera
    This guy has the second-best VORP in all of baseball. He's hitting .339 with a sterling .434 OBP. He's thumped ten homers, 23 doubles and driven in 45 runs while stealing 7 bases. Good player who lacks support in that lineup.

  • Phillies: Ryan Howard
    Good player with excellent power. He started slowly, but after a 7 RBI effort against the Yankees, he surpassed Phat Albert in RBI (67) and tied him in HR (25). While both of these statistics are incredibly subjective and he plays his home games in that bandbox in Philly, the man drove in all seven runs in a 9-7 loss. Bobby Abreu's ridiculously talented at getting on base, but with the slumps of Utley, Rollins and Burrell, Howard is this team's MVP.

  • Nationals: Alfonso Soriano
    The guy moved to a new position and hits a lot of homers and steals a lot of bases. Doesn't do much else, really. His VORP is lower than teammate Nick Johnson's. He's a flashy, athletic player who should be an All-Star, not an MVP.

  • Cardinals: Albert Pujols
    Defending MVP, he went down for a while and his stats still stayed near the top of the league. He was slugging .751. That's really good. Scott Rolen has also done an admirable job in his place in the lineup, though.

  • Reds: No one
    Adam Dunn is the only standout on this team. And he's hitting in the .220s without RBIs. That does not an MVP make.

  • Astros: Lance Berkman
    He's a machine. Hitting .313 with 20 HR and 64 RBI with an above-average .389 OBP and .613 SLG. He's really the only offensive force on that team, aside from Morgan Ensberg and his ridiculously inconsistent power.

  • Brewers: Carlos Lee*
    I think Prince Fielder is the MVP of the Brewers, easy. But he wouldn't win it because Lee's HR/RBI numbers are far more gaudy. Carlos Lee doesn't do much else though.

  • Cubs: No one. Period.

  • Pirates: Jason Bay
    Uh, can you name anyone else on the Pirates? Good. Can you tell me if they have a .415 OBP, 20 HR and a .292 average? 6 stolen bases? 54 RBI? Didn't think so.

  • Padres: None.
    How is this club in first place? Chris Young has pitched well with Brian Giles and Dave Roberts contributing well on offense.

  • Dodgers: Nomar Garciaparra
    He's hitting .361. 8 homers and 43 RBI in 52 games. What a show. .429 OBP. Never seems to go hitless and always comes up big for that squad.

  • Rockies: Matt Holliday
    He leads the team in everything. Average? Check. HR? Check. RBI? Check. Runs? Check. His numbers aren't great, but they're definitely the best on the team. And good.

  • Giants: None.
    Jason Schmidt has been good, but it hasn't shown in the win column. Their hitting has been atrocious. Including Barroid.

  • Diamondbacks: Jason Grimsley.
    Seriously, if they gave out an award for Least Valuable Player, Grimsley would run away with it. Even on Russ Ortiz's D-Backs.
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