Up next are last year's sixth place finishers, Wu Tang Financial. Like the previously reviewed pastywhite tyrones, this squad has never finished in the money. In fact, its best finish was 2003, the team's first year in the league, when it finished a modest 5th place. Since then, they've failed to diversify their bonds and shit, and have never risen above 6th place. What does 2010 have in store for the Gravel Pits?
The infield has two obvious strengths--Tulo and Sandoval make a helluva left side of an infield--and obvious weaknesses--Jorge Cantu and Orlando Hudson have no business being on a fantasy roster. So let's focus on the big wildcard: Matt Wieters.
Coming into 2009, BP projected Matt Wieters to have a rookie season rivaling Uncle Mike Piazza's career apex and only get better. A year later, Wieters' rookie season was closer to Mackey Sasser than Johnny Bench, but was still a good first season. A step forward in an improved O's lineup is expected, and a .350/20HR/80/80 season would surprise nobody. That position edge would go a long way towards bringing this team into the money.
Jasyon Werth is a breakout star, Hunter Pence defines third outfielder, and Josh Willingham defines fourth outfielder. Again, let's focus on the wildcard of this bunch: the Much Maligned B.J. Upton. Check out Upton's lines for the past three seasons:
2007.......386 OBP, 24 HR, 86 R, 82 RBI, 22 SB
2008.......383 OBP, 9 HR, 83 R, 67 RBI, 44 SB (in 60 attempts)
2009.......313 OBP, 11 HR, 79 R, 55 RBI, 42 SB
Cherry picking his top seasons in each category gets you a player that's as good as Matt Kemp. Cherry picking his shittiest season (which is pretty much a repeat of last year with fewer steals) gets you Scott Podsednik. So what's to expect this year? Who the hell knows? Nobody would be surprised to see him emerge as a top-5 outfielder, nobody would be surprised to see him dumped on another team for prospects after a frustrating May. It's not an exaggeration to say this team's fate rides on him.
You can't expect Zack Greinke to be as other-worldly as he was last year, but you can expect him and Josh Beckett to combine to produce roughly the same stats as Beckett enters a contract year. What's fun about this rotation are the wildcards. Javy Vazquez had a tremendous 2009 and now returns to the Bronx, where Yankee fans expect a 6.00 ERA and sabermetricians expect 20 wins. Brandon Webb could be anything off of surgery. And then there's super prospect Brian Matusz, who really could be anything on a frisky O's team. One of the better rotations in the league.
We're wary of any bullpen that relies heavily on Rafael Soriano's trick arm, Kevin Greggg's hanging consonants, and Matt Capps' minimal ability. The Chris Perez snag was a smart one, but this looks like a bullpen that will see a lot of working the waiver wire.
I hate to punt and say "who knows?", but this team is one of the tougher reads because it relies on a lot of lottery tickets. Upton, Webb, Wieters, Vazquez and Perez could all be top-75 fantasy players this year, and if so, this is one of the favorites. Given the inherent nature of injury risk and prior performance of Upton and Vazquez, however, we'll say that only 2/5 of these guys actually pan out and this team is relegated to a 6th place finish. For the third straight year.