By any measure, 2008 was a hell of a year for the Torkies and their owner. Not only did they hoist another Wanksdorf championship flag, their beloved Phillies won the World Series. You can't really do better than that as a baseball nut.
The challenge now is for the Torkies to find a way to top (or even just repeat) themselves this year. The long, remorseless hand of the keeper cap snatched away big chunks of their roster this past offseason, putting the Torkies in rebuilding mode on draft day for the first time in years. They responded by grabbing some old (and we do mean old) familiar hitters in the hopes of keeping their string of solid seasons intact.
As was the case with Elbow Your Funicular? the result was a roster with several studs, but also a few gaping holes. Given the GMs track record, you have to like the team's chances of retooling its way into contention as the year goes on.
Any squad featuring Chase Utley and David Ortiz gets off to a pretty solid start, and 3B Ryan Zimmerman is a breakout candidate now that he has a few other major league hitters around him in DC. After that it gets interesting. Carlos Pena is solid, but not really a standout among the sluggers at 1B; the catching duo of Ramonner Martvarro is more hopeful than solid, and Khalil Greene sucks. The up-the-middle holes at C and SS are obvious and might be fixable via trade, as a couple of teams are either doubled up now at those spots, or will be doubled up once a minor leaguer gets called up. Work remains to be done.
Built around two studs and two burners, this squad tries to make up for the lack of speed and OBP present in the IF. Manny Ramirez is safely back in the fold, with fellow Original First Rounder Vlad Guerrero around as a nice second option. The remaining slot will be filled by a speed platoon of interesting second-year man Denard Span and uninteresting 4-category albatross Slick Willy Taveras. If Span doesn't bloom the team might be better off punting SB entirely and finding another big-bat type OF to shore up the team's performance in the other 4 categories.
Young and quick. The team owns every single closer in the Major Leagues, AAA, and the Central Ohio Semi-Professional Baseball and Roofing League. So go ahead and pencil in 12 points in the saves category. The starters aren't quite as dominant, though Chad Billingsley and Adam Wainwright give the team two solid guys up top. Although we're skeptical of Ryan Dempster's ability to sustain his performance of last year, we also love Erik Bedard as a bounceback candidate. This team is usually among the best at in-season management of his pitchers; they'll have to do so again with a thin bench behind the frontline guys unless Tommy Hansen comes up in June and takes the decision out of the team's hands.
It's awfully tough to pick against this franchise. However, they haven't yet quite patched the holes left by the keeper cap last year. They should be in the mix, but will have to drive the hell out this team to get back into the money again this year.