No Cubs snubs, but two had All-Star shot

It’s hardly a surprise that Starlin Castro is the lone All-Star from the Chicago Cubs. However, what may be a little bit of a shock is that two other players from a team that sits 16 games under .500 may have had a shot as well.

Setup man Sean Marshall has been remarkable for the Cubs this season, pitching 38 1/3 innings and racking up 39 strikeouts while walking only nine. It’s unwise to judge a reliever on his ERA, since one bad outing can cause the number to balloon, but Marshall’s 2.11 looks great in the category as well.

While it once was rare for non-closer relievers to make the All-Star team, recently it’s become common practice. Setup men Jonny Venters (Braves), Tyler Clippard (Nationals) and Aaron Crow (Royals) will all be representing their teams next weekend in Phoenix.

Last season, White Sox reliever Matt Thornton made the roster and Carlos Marmol, who was setting up for Kerry Wood at the time, represented the Cubs on the 2008 team.

Marshall was thrilled for Castro, but admitted that he would have loved to have made the team.

“It’s disappointing in a way, (but) it’s tough to make the all-star team as a reliever,” Marshall said. “There’s always hope (I could get picked as an injury replacement). But, we’re just going to work on winning some games this week, having some good innings, and finishing the first half of the season on a good note.”

It’s likely that two rough outings in Philadelphia on June 11-12 -- when he gave up four runs on five hits in two innings pitched -- derailed Marshall’s chances of making Bochy’s roster.

“I had a long talk with Boch," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "I really felt like Marsh and (Castro) were the two guys that had the best first half, have been healthy, and can represent us. (Venters) and Marsh are the two best left-handers in the league for sure, in my mind, so I would have loved to see him go.”

Another Cub that had an outside All-Star shot was Aramis Ramirez. Now before you fall out of your chair laughing, there’s a legitimate reason why this may have made sense. Yes, Ramirez has widely been criticized for his poor start to the season and his lack of power in 2011. However, with his recent surge -- batting .377 and slugging .774 with six home runs in his last 14 games -- Ramirez has put himself among the top offensive third baseman this season statistically.

In any other season, I wouldn’t think of mentioning Ramirez as a possible All-Star. However, it has been a surprisingly poor season at third base all around the league. With an average OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .685, the hot corner ranks dead last in the league among all positions in that category. Of course, it doesn’t help that perennial All-Stars Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Evan Longoria have all missed large portions of the season.

Ramirez didn’t feel snubbed about not being named an All-Star because he realized that until two weeks ago, he was having an off-year. However, he did go out of his way say that he felt White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who didn’t make the team, really deserved to be on the roster.

To illustrate just how strong of a case Ramirez may have for being an All-Star, one can compare his numbers with that of All-Star reserve Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves. Jones is hitting .257 with seven home runs and an OPS of .762. Ramirez tops Jones in each category with 11 home runs, a .292 batting average, and an .806 OPS, which is second among National League third basemen.

Despite Marshall and Ramirez both having decent cases to make the all star team, there shouldn’t be much indignation about their absences from the roster. When you’re on a team that’s fighting for the worst record in baseball rather than a playoff spot, expecting more than one All-Star would be unreasonable.