Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Season Preview: Kicked in the Nuts

Our next preview takes us to one of the best team names we've had in a while, Will's squad Kicked in the Nuts. People who made the trip to AC know that the genesis of the name is probably from a certainly owner who's won the league more times than anyone else but shall remain nameless deciding, in what was possibly an alcohol-induced state, to kick this team's owner in the jimmy in the middle of a casino floor. But I note that the team name is a bit more apropos than you'd think based on how Will's teams have done over the past few years:
  • In 2010, this team racks up a solid 84 points, and deals off its first four draft picks for 2011 in the process. Sadly, this only gets them 4th place.
  • In 2009, this team again deals off a bunch of early picks in a run for the title and winds up with 80.5 points. That sounds impressive, but it got them 5th place.
  • In 2006, the team put up its all-time high of 90 points. That at least got them in the money, but they had to settle for second place.
  • To make matters more silly, they finished 2nd in last year's Deathship, a completely meaningless silver medal.
So Will joins Teddy and me in the Best To Never Win It All category, and in recent years, has made aggressive moves to push towards the top. He took that to a new level this year by pre-emptively dealing away next year's first rounder to gain a pair of 2's in this year's draft. Did it pay off? Let's have a look.


At first blush this collection looks like Miguel Cabrera and the 4 Lilliputians, but a closer examination reveals that this isn't a bad squad. Ryan Raburn may have co-won Worst Keeper of 2011, but he did hit 15 HRs last year in 371 AB's at a weak position, and is at worst replacement level. Aaron Hill is a fun bounceback candidate on the bench. Some platoon of the Michaels--Young and Cuddyer, which we'll just call Cuddyoung for now--should work at third base. And while I don't love Andrus as much as others, he should put up 30 steals. Which is good, because the rest of this infield is slow as hell.


A strong collection that needs some luck in the health department. If he manages to play 150 games, Nelson Cruz is a great sleeper bet for the home run title and MVP, and is a favorite of mine. Shin Shoo Choo is Mr. Everything, which is perfect for the #2 slot in the outfield. More helpfully, his 400 OBP will offset the albatross that is Michael Bourn, who will contribute to two categories (runs and steals) and kill you in the other three. It's going to take a step up from someone like Gaby Sanchez or Cruz in the power department to offset the Bourn vacuum, because he's going to have to play--there are only 4 guys on this team that had double digit steals last year.


The top of the rotation is rock-solid in King Felix and Chris Carpenter. It's after that that things get a little dicier, as the Bruised Scrotums appear to have cornered the market in pitchers I don't like. My disinterest in Buchholz was already stated in the draft commentary. Ricky Romero had a nice 2011 but to me looks primed for a regression: another jump in innings, a low BAA (.242) and a team whose defensive may have regressed. Brett Cecil won 15 games last year, qualifying him for the Storm Davis Memorial Award for pitcher who gets the most wins in a season despite not being any good. And Gavin Floyd and JA Happ are Just Guys. So while not a bad set of players, it's a staff that I'm personally against.


Apparently this team's owner has invested heavily in Johnson & Johnson, because if he intends to watch games for which his relief pitchers are playing, he's going to have 3 ulcers by Mother's Day. Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are nominal closers and officially not particularly good pitchers. Andrew Bailey is a good pitcher that's hurt. And Brandon League is a decent pitcher that's closing for a few weeks until David Aaaaardsma returns. So yeah, there's quantity here, but not quality.


The roster here is pretty top-heavy: Cabrera, Felix, Carpenter, Cruz and Choo are all top notch fantasy players. It's the presence of multiple guys who contribute to limited categories (Bourn, Andrus) or will kill their rate stats in the staff that has me concerned. At the same time, the presence of 5 stars can't be ignored. This looks to be a team that will hang around for a while but needs to add a couple of four-category contributors to make a real run for the money.


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