Back from the land of oblivion, aka, Checkpoint Charlie, one of our original members joined us again last year for a full season as the Presidential Timber, both in time for an election season and a halfway decent run for 5th place in the league. Smartly, instead of taking the next logical step in team naming by joining the Anthony Weiner bandwagon, the owner has elected to simply make fun of ARod for this year's squad. As bonafide haters of the Yankees in general and Justify My Glove specifically, we wholly applaud this decision.
As last year's preview smartly used songs by The Replacements to describe this team, we're of the opinion that a gimmick cannot be overused, otherwise this blog would not exist. As it seems moronic to use The Replacements again, let's instead focus on another band that seems to reflect the team's owner's history. Having crossed the Atlantic several dozen times, changed time zones, locations, which franchise is actually his, and now with the release of franchise icon Albert Pujols, it's fair to say that the BALCO rehabbers are merry wanderers, a la The Decemberists. Which is high praise for the team; The Decemberists are as good a band making music right now. What do Colin Meloy and Co. hold for this team?
Infield: "The Youth and Beauty Brigade", off Castaways and Cutouts
There's a fun mix of hitters here, that are either about to hit their peak or trying their damndest not to fall off their statistical peaks. What's actually interesting here is that three of the five starters are pretty pretty much WYSIWYG, as Derrek Lee, Brandon Phillips and Michael Young are all low variance players who should do no harm at their respective positions. Kevin Yoooook isn't that far off either, ignoring the fact that he lead the league in homers that cleared the fence by 3 feet or fewer. Rounding this off is fun sleeper Ryan Doutmit, who can hit, but problematically, appears to be hitting behind Yank Robinson and Jocko Field on the Pittsburgh Burghers.
Outfield: "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist", off 5 Songs
Solid citizens and former first round picks Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson are complimented by a pair of guys in new homes on the left coast: Matt Holliday in the Al Davis Retractable Hole, and Bobby Abreu in Disneyland. There are the obvious questions about whether Holliday will remain a stud now that he's been freed from Coors' low altitude and humidor, but there's no denying that there are no scrubs here, if few superstars. What's neat about the outfielders and hitters in general is that they're a bunch of multi-category players, who should add up to a fair amount of steals in aggregate. Crawford aside, there's nary a 1-category stud here that's trying to carry the offense, which is smart roster construction.
Starters: "Red Right Ankle", off Her Majesty
In hindisght, Roy Halladay going 14th in last year's fantasy draft was one of the best picks made in a while, in terms of sheer simplicity and execution, as Halladay remains a stud. Which is good, because the rest of this rotation looks like the waiting room at County General Hospital.
Starting us off is Dustin McGowan, who's already out half the year with Tommy John recovery, with John Smoltz just ahead of him in terms of recovery time. Chris Volstad and Manny Parra aren't injury risks yet, but both are being asked to up their innings pitched by about 90 this year, meaning the Verducci Effect should hit them squarely between the eyeballs. Johnny Cueto is a young hurler coached by Dusty Baker, which is akin to a preexisting condition. And then there's Josh Johnson who is an even/odd pitcher; in even years he's healthy, in odd years he's out for the entire season.
There's upside on a bunch of these guys, but expect this staff to make liberal use of the disabled list and the waiver wire. Which makes this a fairly slender reed upon which to support a team.
Relievers: "We Both Go Down Together", off Picaresque
We have exactly two relievers here: BJ Ryan, off the owner's blessed Blue Jays, and Jose Valverde, who against odds and common sense, is the 2-time reigning leader of saves in the National League. These guys could combine for 90 saves if healthy and on good teams. Sadly, they're both on shitty teams and Ryan is still one violent sneeze away from re-visiting Dr. James Andrews. We like to focus on the positives here, but while this duo could produce a middle-of-the-pack run to saves, it's more likely to crater than overperform.
Prognosis: "The Shankhill Butchers", off The Crane Wife
Even moreso than Recalcitrant Cobblers, this squad is highly dependent on the innings it gets out of its top-shelf starters. Volstad, Parra, Johnson and Cueto all represent guys that can be top-40 starters, but it's a stretch to think that they'll all be healthy to carry the team this year. Still, the offense is well-rounded enough that they should be, at worst, mid-pack competitive most of the year.
Edit--In the spirit of full disclosure, PECOTA, um, disagrees. (Teddy)