Monday, March 26, 2007

Season Preview: Lefty's Revenge

Lefty's Revenge

Is it still OK to hate Phil Mickelson? 'Cuz I can't stand the sonofabitch, with his wee, beady eyes and his smug look --"oh, you're gonna buy me some chicken, ohhhh." Part of me feels bad, because I usually root for the underdog. It probably goes without saying that anyone who grew up as a Red Sox fan automatically has a soft spot for underdogs, chokers, and general fuckups of all descriptions.

But despite looming cyborg presence of Tiger Woods, I just can't get behind Phil (unlike the gentleman above). In fact, he pretty much brings out the worst in me, as shown by the fact that after all these years I can still make myself giggle by referring to him as "Suck Dickleson," a joke that does not rank among my wittiest or most urbane. Not to bring it back around to his bastard children again, but it somehow throws off my worldview that this tubby bastard scored a hot wife and pots of money by coming in second. It's generally not the case that I root for a public figure to have an ugly wife, but there you go. If he had a wife who could balance a can of Old Milwaukee on her gut while standing up, I'd be tempted to throw my support to Phil. Until then, it's root, root, root for the cyborg.

Anyway, the team name is a touch off for this team, as Lefty was known for coming up just short when it mattered, while this franchise has usually been rather further off the pace. But this year's team is almost certainly the best edition of the franchise, and one that should be a factor in the race for the money.


Ol' Lefty is gonna need the kids to come up big this year, as they'll run out an opening day lineup with rookies B.J. Upton and Stephen Drew on the left side of the IF, and second-year leviathan Prince Fielder at first. Julio Lugo is a good positional value slotted in a second, even if his production in Boston is likely to skew more heavily towards R and OBP and less towards SB. With the general lack of speed on this team, they'll have to hope that the Sox turn Lugo loose more often than they do with most of their speed threats. There's a bit of a pileup at 3B, with Chad Tracy and Mark Teahen hanging around on the bench. 3B is a deep position in the majors right now, so it's not clear if there will be a big market for those guys. They do, however, provide a hedge against Upton failing to adjust to big-league pitching.


Not a lot of depth here, at least until Teahen gets his OF eligibility. Lance Berkman is a stud, and Pat Burrell is an underrated OBP source, but Rocco Baldelli is already dinged up and Jeff Francoeur needs to stop swinging at everything that comes anywhere near the ballpark--including the F-16s in the pregame flyover--before he'll be as useful as his rep would indicate. With Frank Thomas locked up in the UTIL slot, the lack of depth in the OF shouldn't be too problematic. However, if Thomas gets hurt as usual and/or Baldelli goes down for an extended period, there might be some scrambling to fill their slots.


With a top of the order of Zambrano/Willis/Schmidt/Young, this team is set up as well as any in the league. There are a few questions down at the bottom of the rotation, with some iteration of Boof Lilly-Reyes set to slot in, but there aren't many teams who can straight-facedly claim to be comfortable with the back of their rotations at this point in the season. The 'pen has three great arms in Eric Greg Gagne, K-Rod, and Joel Zumaya. However, it's unclear whether Gagne is functional, whether K-Rod's shoulder can survive another year of sliders, and whether Detroit is stupid enough to keep giving save opportunities to Todd Jones instead of the young, cheap reliever with the 102 mph fastball. You'd sort of think that idea would start rattling around the front office's collective brain like a marble in a trash can, but there's been no sign of progress to date. If the closers don't come through, that will be two categories (SB and SV) that the team will basically be punting, and it's going to be tough to compete with the big boys by leaving that many points on the board to start.

Prognosis: Like Classic Original Lefty, the team will be competitive, but miss out on the W.

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