We turn now to the 2007 Champion, It's Enrico Palazzo, who's utilizing the name from the classic 1980's comedy for the third straight year, which is a problem, because we're running out of Naked Gun photos to put on the site. We implore the owner to find some other screwball comedy to rip off...maybe Airplane?
Unlike the last two years, we're not seeing a tandem team of ownership here, as Darrin has left us for greener pastures, replaced by Andrew, who took an ownership stake in the squad in '07, not coincidentally with the team's rise to relevancy. This is double bad news for us: we've lost an owner who we knew and liked (though Andrew seems like a great guy, in fairness), and worse, we kept the guy who knew how to construct a team behind.
After a fine run to second place in '08, the team was forced to hemorrhage an entire outfield, perennial stud Miguel Cabrera, Ben Sheets to the world of operating rooms, and something named Cha Seung Baek. How did they respond to this part-reconstruction, part retooling?
How well you grade this infield is contingent on how much you buy into two propositions: the fluke year, and the contract year. Hanley Ramirez and Russell Martin form as solid a core as you'll find in an infield. It's the other three positions that give pause, as all have a large variance. Dan Uggla matched his 33 HRs last year with as many errors during the All-Star Game. It's tough to tell if he's a break out star or last year was a bonafide fluke for the former Rule 5 pick. Adrian Beltre has previously shown that he only gives a crap when his contract is up, and guess what? It's his walk year! Carlos Delgado is, on his best day, a shade above fantasy replacement level for a 1B....but he's playing for a new contract...but he's about 40 years old...you see where this is going. We'll grade this fairly high on the power level, with the note that it could also crater pretty quickly with little in the way of reserves to cushion the blow.
Half of the battle in fantasy sports is taking the proper perspective and forecast on players, which is great during drafts, but a bit problematic in previews. Because with the exception of Andre Ethier, this outfield is populated with guys who I don't like this year. Johnny Damon's sole assets are in R and SB's, and I'm of the opinion his wheels are about to fall off. If you put aside Magglio!'s hit-driven OBP spike in 2007, you have a third outfielder. In other words, you have Raul Ibanez...a solid citizen, but nothing more than that. Can't say this is a strength for this team.
To counter the hitting which is somewhat variable and suspect, we have a staff that boasts Sabathia, Peavy, Cole Hamels, and Dick Harden as its top 4 starters. I haven't reviewed the other teams' rosters in full, but if anyone is topping this, or has topped this in prior years, I'd be stunned. One caution: injury potential abound on this squad.
Kerry Wood and a prayer. Seriously, that's about it. Saito will give valuable pen work in Boston, but seriously, that's it. They're probably trying to waiver-wire-grab some closers, but the only squad their currently ahead of in relief is mine.
The starters are good enough that the team can probably write in 20-24 points in W's and K's, not to mention being more than competitive in the rate categories, and the infield will keep them competitive. However, the preseason look indicates that this perennial contender is a player or two shy of the top this year, which isn't a total surprise given that they had to deal some picks to make a run at it last year. That said, there's some good chips here to trade come June/July if the team is in contention, which would surprise nobody.