In the "What's In a Name?" category, this squad had a fun 2009 season. They started by blatantly baiting our commissioner and his law partner, which morphed into a well-crafted pseudonym courtesy of my co-blogger. That somehow morphed into a team that only a Quebecois on Levitra could love, the Flaccid Funiculi.
This year, the 2006 runner-up has channeled his and 90% of the nation's inner hatred for the Blue Devils by simply going with Duck Fuke. Juvenile as the name is, it gives us an opportunity to recall all the Duke teams that we've hated over the past two decades, and giving us a convenient excuse to populate the post with players and people we and most of America hated.
As to the actual roster for the Wojo Suckers, this team, much like mine, traded away a bunch of picks and prospects last summer in a run for the title. Like my team, they fell short (5th place) and as a result, didn't have a draft pick until Teddy was on his 5th beer. But no bother, right? How does this team actually look?
Any unit that starts with Waddling Miguel Cabrera can't be all bad, and it's solid all the way around after that from speed freak Brandon Phillips to breakout player Jason Bartlett and solid performer Michael Young. I also like the Chris Davis pickup as a hedge at 3B, given his duel eligibility, worst case scenario he's waived in a few weeks; best case he's Adam Dunn-lite. There's some crash potential here between Bartlett's potentially fluky season and Miguel being fat, drunk and stupid, but this is group is a strength.
The problem here isn't that there are bad players populating the outfield, because if Shin-Shoo Choo repeats his 2009, he'll help in all categories, and if Nelson Cruz can stay healthy, he's a good source of power and steals. The problem is that these are their two best outfielders, guys who we'd describe as perfect #2 and #3 OFs on a contender. This is doubly true because while both players are low on experience, they're also low on ceiling; they're 28 and 30 years old respectively.
For the 3rd slot (and maybe DH), the K-Bashers are trying to play the bounceback card pretty heavily, as Former First Rounder Alfonso Soriano and Last Year's Bust Keeper Ryan Ludwick are both here. Then there's former stud Magglio Ordonez, who put up a whopping 50 Ribbies last year in full-time action. This part of the roster hasn't quite turned the corner and will need some help.
As is evidenced by my roster, for starting pitchers, I like staffs that have a couple of aces up top and go with young arms over proven old guys. So it's no surprise that I like this rotation a lot. Verlander and Carpenter are the putative aces, and yet, I'm more bullish on Ricky Nolasco than either of them. On the upside...side...Homer Bailey is a great flyer on a potential contender, while Romero and Randy Wells both may emerge as their teams' best starters this year. That may say more about the craptitude of the Jays and Cubs, but when you're in possession of 4 or 5 of the teams' best pitchers, you're in pretty good shape.
Well, the kept closers (Heath Bell and Chad Qualls) are solid citizens and likely to add 60 saves to the team's roster by year's end. Which is good, because expecting much consistency out of JJ Putz or Jon Rauch is a fool's errand. Leo Nunez stands somewhere in between these poles, and will probably be acceptable as the third reliever. This looks like a pen that's perfect to get the team 5-6 points in saves and offer de minimus help in all other categories.
For a team that had zero picks in the top-30, this is a surprisingly good squad, with nice starting pitching and a good infield. They're a good outfielder away from competing, but are far, far from hopeless. So while we're not looking at the league's Christian Laettner here, we're also not looking at the Wankdorf Chris Burgess either. We see a middle of the pack team now, that will be helped greatly by pouncing on the first team to throw in the towel for this year.
And lastly: Go Mountaineers!