- Where the hell are your actual predictions for these teams? Are you crazy? We don't prognosticate, we criticize. Anything more specific than that may make us accountable, and if the current administration has taught us nothing... (ducks brick from Evil Empire)
- Why hasn't my team gone yet? Bad luck. Plus, Teddy & I pretend to hold actual jobs. Actually, that's not true, we do hold actual jobs. What we do at them is another story.
- What about the transactions from draft day? And since free agency started? Jeezus Harold Fricking Christ, pipe down. We'll get to it. We do our work and pump out regular columns with insight, if not humor and originality. If we devolve into Bill Simmons, please shoot me. Or Teddy.
- Isn't Ravel hurt? Yeah, Pletcher's now one short. He'll only start 8 in the Derby. BTW, not to say I told you so on Hard Spun, but...
- What qualifies you to do this? Experience! I challenge you to find two other buffoons who spend time recapping fantasy transactions. We've morphed the worst qualities of Christina Karhl and Sars Bunting into one disgusting mass that somewhat resembles the naked visage of Wide Guy.
Team History: Another of the Original Six from the league, the Olowokandis started off the league with a very strong performance--namely, winning the league out of the gate behind a strong and well-balanced team from an excellent initial draft. They rode that again to a good 2nd place the following year. While they've been out of the money in the next 3 years, it's hardly for lack of effort and there hasn't been a poor team amongst the five. Competitors can consistently count on this being a strong squad. Competitors can also consistently rely on is them being, um, deliberate on draft day---few teams have needed more prodding that it's their time to pick. But at least it doesn't result in selecting Mo Vaughn.
Infield: Paul LoDuca, Todd Helton, Brian Roberts, Chipper Jones, Edgar Renteria. This isn't a bad infield, but you can't point to this as the strength of the team. Add Frank Jobe would help; with the exception of Rent-a-Suck, whose name says it all, there's a fair chance the other 4 here could miss over 200 games with routine injuries.
Outfield/DH: Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Grady Sizemore, David Ortiz. Well, we've got three of the 10 best hitters in the league here, and Drew, who may round out the Boston lineup with the OBP & power combo they've missed the last two year. Plus, the Sub-Saharan Lads only have to watch NESN to see their team's fates, which should reduce their cable bill, if nothing else. Since I really can't add much here, I'll just echo Deadspin's earlier posting and note that the University of Michigan's basketball coach position is listed between "secretary" and "nurse" on their Working at UM website. $5 to whoever submits the best resume, and I guarantee it won't be Bill Self.
Bench: Freddy Sanchez, Kevin Youkilis. Two players somehow manage to cover 5 positions of eligibility. Neither is particularly good, but they'll do the trick unless LoDuca goes down. BTW, we're now up to SIX players with strong Red Sox connections, as both of these guys were PawSox at one point. Does anyone else think that SOSH is being moderated by Jake?
Starting Pitching: Brandon Webb, Felix Hernandez, Ben Sheets, Mike Mussina, Annibal Sanchez, Clay Hensley, Brad Penny, Taylor Tankersley. That's a lot of talent assembled there, even though there's some question marks, they fall under the category of acceptable risks. Webb & Mussina are cornerstone pieces, and King Felix and Sheets are nothing shy of exemplary building blocks for a stellar pitching staff. Granted, both have serious injury issues to worry about (the latter recovering, the former preventing), but there's 70-win potential from this quartet. And smartly, depth is built in---Sanchez & Penny are very good back of the rotation guys, while Tankersley & Hensley are Can Go Either Ways; deal 'em if you're contending, keep 'em if you ain't. This may be the best staff in the league. And just imagine if they had...
Hospital Ward: Francisco Liriano. I sigh as my beautiful pick from last year has turned into dust. This to me is a waste, but he'll be on the DL anyway, so whatever.
Relief Pitching: Armando Benitez, Jason Isringhausen, Joel Piniero. We finish with a pair of Shea Stadium washouts and a guy who isn't closing for the Red Sox but would be the opening day starter for the Nationals. Yep, looks like they need some bullpen help.
Breakout Candidate: If you rule out the hives that are about to develop on tuberculosis ridden Jason Isringhausen (seriously, I'm not bitter the Mets traded him for Billy Fricking Taylor), and go under the assumption that Sizemore and King Felix don't qualify here, I'm going with Annibal Sanchez, who I think takes the next step this year and cements himself as a very solid #2 guy behind D-Train in Florida. We may be looking at a staff where Mussina is the 6th starter come June.
On the Wrong Side of the Hill: Would it be a cop-out to just say "infield"? Of all those guys in particular, I'm extremely down on Larry Jones, and not just because he's a schmuck. I have to think if he plays any real time at third it's going to exacerbate his injuries, and the lineup's still fragmented enough after Andruw & McCann that he's going to have problems scoring peripheral stats. May be the end of the road for Chipster, fantasy-wise.
X-Factor: J.D. Drew could be anything. Could be a sinkhole, could be a cancerous sore, could be a stud, could be MVP. I lean towards productive 3rd OF (he's not as good as Carlos Lee this year?), but his production's going to go a long ways to determining whether this is a top- or mid-level team.
Verdict: The staff and outfield are without peer in the league, and frankly, that will be enough to compete. To win? They're going to need a couple of breaks in the bullpen or a lil' bit o' luck in the infield, because they're somewhere between sinkholes and treading water in those divisions. Unless they're trying to compete by punting saves and crossing fingers, a trade is necessary, but at least they have the parts to do so. Definite contender that's 2 players shy of being a major player.