Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Season Preview: It's Enrico Palazzo

Team It's Enrico Palazzo

[ed. note--The editor in me is dying to tack a "!" on to the team name, but I'm just going to have a beer instead.]

Yes indeed, it is Enrico Palazzo, another of the many teams in this league named after characters from '80's screwball comedies. The trend (which admittedly includes me) has pushed the league as a whole right up against that line between "Hipsters Showing Off Wacky Pop-Culture Knowledge" and "Basement-Dwelling Junior High Power-Dorks". The first guy to reference Tolkien, or Dungeons & Dragons--any elf-intensive medium, really--is going to tip the balance in the wrong direction. So be careful out there, people.

Skipping lightly over that, IEP(!) are one of the set of 5-6 or potential runners this season. They're one of about 4 teams who'll be competing for the top offensive slots, and, like most of those teams, they've basically bought themselves a lottery ticket on the pitching side. The main problem here isn't really the quality of players on the roster, but rather the allocation of those players across the starting lineup.


Here's the prime example of what I mean: IEP(!) is starting Hanley Ramirez and Michael Young, who look to be 2 of the best 4-5 fantasy shortstops in baseball this season. Problem is, there's only one starting SS slot. The other guy is going to get plugged in at UTIL. While each of Ramirez and Young are worth playing, they lose a lot of their value when they're played out of position--a rotating cast of other players could have provide the same value at less cost in the draft.

Of course, either Ramirez or Young would make fun trade bait, so it's premature to criticize--the possibility is certainly there for the proverbial trade that helps both teams. If IEP(!) could turn one of those two into a real closer and some other goodies, they might have the same aggregate talent, but a better shot at racking up points across all categories.


The team has hitched his wagons pretty decisively to the Blue Jays' bandwagon here, starting both Vernon Wells and Alex Rios. Rios got about 85% of the way to breaking out last year before being slowed by an infected leg. Senor Palazzo appears to be hoping that the season Rios will finish what he started last year. Beyond that there's what's left of Gary Sheffield, who is moving to a pitchers' park this season. I'm of the opinion that Sheffield will have a bounce-back season, as he strikes me as the kind of guy who will channel his rage at the Yankees into better performances at the plate. Might want to keep him off first base, though. Also, just for public safety reasons, they might want to keep him away from small children. And old people. And fans. And most forms of plant life.


Well, Jake Peavy is pretty awesome, and C.C. Sabathia had a great under-the-radar season last year. After that, things get iffy. There's the good pitcher who doesn't strike anyone out (Chien-Ming Wang), the bad pitcher who doesn't strike anyone out (Jeremy Sowers), and the 50 year-old Cuban guy (Jose Contreras--though he's better than fellow 50 year-old Cuban Livan Hernandez if only because Contreras doesn't yet have an arthritic neck).
at right: Jose Contreras's great-grandson, Steve.
Also, any time Stormy Weathers is your #2 closer, your plan can't be to punt SPs and rely on your bullpen guys to carry the day in ERA and WHIP. The team needs Sowers and fellow young "gun" Cole Hamels to come up pretty big, otherwise this team will be rummaging around in the Jamie Moyer/Woody Williams scrap heap pretty quickly.

Prognosis: Close, but no cigar--without a trade for some pitching.

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