The local basbeall writers took a lot of heat when Jason Bartlett was voted the team MVP last season (we actually kinda supported the idea). And Marc Topkin took a lot of grief when he wrote Jason Bartlett’s name on his AL MVP ballot as the fifth most valuable American Leaguer in 2008.

Well, Topkin is back in 2009 and he brought his fastball. He once again addresses the issue of Bartlett’s MVPness, but this time he brought more than a laptop. He brought the big gun, Joe Maddon.

For any of the Internet bloggers or hundreds of message board posters who had issues with shortstop Jason Bartlett’s selection as the Rays’ most valuable player last season, manager Joe Maddon has a few choice words of his own.

“We don’t win last year without him playing shortstop. Period,” Maddon said Wednesday. “It’s pretty simple — it just doesn’t happen.”

And he brought the Cat Carlos Pena.

“You can’t always go to a number,” first baseman Carlos Peña said. “I go on plays made. And he changes the game. Instead of a base hit, it’s an out. Instead of a double, it’s a single. Things like that are huge for the success of the team, and with his defense he contributes in such a substantial way. So he’s crucial to our success.”

So there you have it. Topkin just brought some big guns to a knife fight. Your turn internet bloggers. Whatcha got?

Tampa Bay Rays say shortstop Bartlett has value that is hard to measure [St. Pete Times]

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12 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Yeah, Joe said something like that last year. I forget the quote, but he basically called him the MVP, most important addition, or something like that.

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    • I just equate it to how the quarterback always gets the MVP in the Super Bowl. The biggest difference between 2007 and 2008 was the pitching. But there wasn't 1 pitcher that stood out. Much ofvthe improvement was the defense and the confidence the defense gave the pitchers. And the shortstop is the keystone of the defense and it just so happened Bartlett wasn't there in 2007 but was in 2008. So in my mind without somebody else as a clearcut favorite, Bartlett was kind of a default choice.

      I didn't have a problem with it and personally I just think too much of a stink was made of it.

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  2. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Without a doubt Bartlett was an important cog in the wheel last year, and without him in the dog days of summer the Rays did go on a little skid, but that being said Bartlett was not the MVP.

    Maddon's response of "without him we don't win" was political speak at its best. Of course not, because we didn't have another SS who was ready to play in the bigs at that time.
    I contend that most SS with major league experience would've been able to fill in the hole just fine, but we didn't have one of those, so "without him we don't win" becomes valid just based on the fact that we didn't have any depth at SS- not because Bartlett was uber-important.
    As Prof has outlined in the past Longoria makes the SS's job easy because he covers more ground than a typical 3B, so that in and of itself also made Bartlett look better.

    I'm not saying that Bartlett didn't do a fine job out there last year (I even wrote a nice piece on him on my now-defunct Rays blog last season) I'm just saying that he was fairly average.

    Shoulder injury or not he struggled to throw the ball for much of the season, and his bat was definately nothing to write home about either. I'm still scratching my head as to where this Bartlett propaganda began- I'm convinced that the organization and the media hyped him up just for the sake of drawing interest, and at some point the lie became truth in the minds of the masses.

    Reality check: Bartlett is average, maybe slightly above average, at best. Period. His defense is barely good enough to make up for his lack of offense.

    No way he was the MVP... keep dreaming!

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    • steve-o1285 says:

      Completely agree here. Again, not to discount JB's worth, but the argument is weak. I guess he should shake Reid and Benzo's hands and thank their level of suckitude for his MVP award.

      Even though SS is the most valuable infield position, Evan also played some damn good D over at third...while bringing the big stick as well.

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  3. Spitfire McGee says:

    Internet bloggers? Is there another kind?

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  4. Kevin says:

    For the last time. I had no problem with picking Bartlett as MVP as long as everyone agreed that is largely symbolic. In picking Bartlett as MVP, they were saying: 1) Improved defense was a huge reason for our success and 2) That trade, which improved our chemistry, also helped. That's fine. But please please PLEASE don't try to actually justify it for real.

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  5. Joe D. says:

    I'd say that Aki was every bit of an MVP that JB was. Aki had the most AB's, leadoff all season, played in more games then any other Ray, selflessly moved to 2B, and played amazing defence, and only GIDP twice all season.

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  6. Scot says:

    Oh give me a break. What the heck do you think Joe is going to say? Bartlett was a drag on the team? I don't think he deserved the MVP? Bartlett is good for the price. He is above replacement level. But not much.

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    • steve-o1285 says:

      Heh, I thought the same thing...same with Pena.

      Topkin: So, Carlos, What do you thoughts on Jason winning the team MVP award? Was he deserving?

      Pena: Absolutely not, I think it's absurd. Try voting for a COMPLETE player next time.

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