Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Season Previews: AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS

We now turn to a team that until this year, has eschewed the shift key and has constantly given himself nonsensical names in e.e. cummings style. This is about all I'm going to say on the team name, since the name itself...well, doesn't really lend itself to humor or snark. So let's instead turn to the team and its history, which is pretty funny.

One of the original owners in the league, last year represented a bit of a regression, as the starting pitching collapsed and the offense never really got in gear, two years after trying the keep-pitching-drafting-hitting strategy. The owner tried to rectify this in the offseason by dealing for stud closer Jon Papelbon, wholly ignoring the fact that closer was the one area that wasn't a true weakness, and instead keeping all offense, closers and some random starters. What he ended up with was a curious collection of infielders, the dessicated remains of Travis Hafner, and some flyer starters as the keepers. How'd they fill out the rest of the roster?


Shockingly strong. They return the reigning AL MVP (Dustin Pedroia), drafted one of the 5 best fantasy players (Jose Reyes), and have one of the more underapprciated players in baseball (Adrian Gonzalez). Pedroia's a tad overrated from a fantasy standpoint, but this group is strong enough to withstand the fact that Chris Snyder is horrible as a catcher and that Chone Figgins may be Juan Pierre at third. It's also helped by having a neat breakout candidate in Alex Gordon on the bench. A neat young corps of players that actually contributes in all of the 5 categories. This is not a weakness.


When you can't tell who the best player in a quartet is, usually it's a good sign. That's not the case here, as you can make cases for any of Rick Ankiel, Jim Thome, Alex Rios and Chris Young being your best OF, but none of them would crack the top 20 of the position. That said, they're not without use, as they could slug 140 homers combined while striking out 900 times. The power had better come up big though, because counting on these guys to steal or score a lot is folly.


The ace is either Gavin Floyd or Joe Saunders (right, thinking about a double-double). Ouch. More than anything else, this is what will keep this team from competing this year, because there aren't enough wins or K's on this staff to crack the top half of the division, and I won't even speculate as to how the rate states will pan out. This looks to be a team that plays the waiver wire a lot this year for starters, and the final roster will look nothing like this. Or so we hope.


What the team lacks in starters it makes up for in spades in relievers, as Joe Nathan and Papelbon are stud closers, and Ryan Franklin isn't the worst idea as a vulture candidate or a replacement in case Motte flames out in St. Louis. The question is how to leverage these guys; everyone will be eyeing these guys in trades come June, but if they're deadset on competing in 2010, is it worth dealing them? Tough call.


The hitting is a bit better than one would expect from a team that kept Travis Hafner and Jhohony Peralta, but the starting pitching is nothing shy of brutal at the moment. If they can dig up some starters during the year that push them towards respectability, this team may be able to be middle of the pack; otherwise, it's a push for 2010. That said, this offensive core is a real nice start, and look for this team to get interesting next year.

No comments: