It might be necessary to call on the services of Joel Osteen or another person used to working miracles and reversals of fortune, because the Spammers are banking on a their infielders to pretend that the year 2008 never existed. Take...oh, Robinson Cano for example. Two years ago he was heralded as the rising stud 2B, and has since fallen flat on his face. Victor Martinez hasn't quite had the same fate befall him, but he's been passed pretty quickly by 4-6 other guys in the elite ranks of catchers. And Todd Helton and a re-drafted Aramis Ramirez are, well, old. There's production potential here, but also a pretty high risk of absolute disasters breaking out.
The recently announced Drew/Upton--Milledge/Votto swap kicks in here, as Lastings Milledge and Joey Votto join the mix of Nick Markakis, a bonafide stud, and a bunch of other odd ducks. It's not that Ichiro! can't perform, it's that he's about 40 years old and his value comes from speed, a young man's game. Nate McLouth redefines 'fluke' as we know it, and forecasters love him to decline. And Delmon Young may just show up and kick the crap out of all these guys for no reason. So while losing Upton does sting, adding Votto as the DH helps (it sure as shit beats dragging out Paul Konerko's corpse for another year), while Milledge is the kind of high upside guy this team needs to compete.
When you return a Cy Young winner, generally you should be excited. Sadly, the winner last year was Cliff Lee, who's a perfectly fine pitcher and a nice guy, but doesn't radiate stud the way someone like CC Sabathia does. After that comes a guy who's a bulldog (Oswalt), a guy who throws a lot of pitchers and few innings (Dice-K), a Princeton alum (Chris Young), a potential stud (Clayton Kershaw) and your usual collection of the back of the rotation silliness (Ian Snell, Wandy Rodriguez, and Tim Hudson, proof that Alex has a sense of humor). In other words, it looks like your normal fantasy pitching staff--neither a great strength, nor a great weakness.
This is the oddest collection of bullpen guys in our league this year, and possibly ever. Let's see what we have:
- The best reliever on the Cubs...who isn't their closer (Carlos Marmol).
- The guy who should be the Mariners' 2nd or 3rd starter, but is their closer (Brandon Morrow).
- Colorado's closer, which qualifies you for hazard pay (Huston Street).
- Oakland's putative closer until he broke (Joey Devine).
- Cleveland's version of Jesse Crain (Anthony Reyes).
I was a lot more optimistic about this team before I started writing this preview, but a closer look reveals that it's a good-not-great roster with a lot of potential pratfalls. The owner's one of our best, and he'll add well to the roster if they're in contention come July 4th, but there's a pretty serious question of whether they'll be there or in the second division.