Thursday, March 29, 2012

Season Preview: Suicide by Jaguar

Our beloved Commish has decided this year to abandon as his team avatar a fictional character on some children's show that I have never seen nor heard of--and let's hope that my infant daughter never gets to see it--to John Fairfax, a completely insane man with the greatest obituary in recent memory.  For those without the time or patience to read it, Fairfax's life highlights included:
  • Rowing across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, after spending months in Hyde Park, New York building up stamina.
  • Apprenticing to become a pirate.
  • Settling a dispute with a pistol during a camping trip...when he was 9.
  • Relocating to the Amazon to sell jaguar and ocelot skins...when he was 13.
  • And when he was 20, attempting to commit suicide by jaguar.  As his obit writer dryly stated: "When the planned confrontation ensued, however, reason prevailed — as did the gun he had with him."
The Dos Equis man has nothing on Fairfax--he was, in fact, the most interesting man in the world.  As for Andy...we'll reserve comment.  Is his team at least mildly interesting?


The infield is in fact interesting, if not necessarily good.  Hometown hero Yadi Molina and perennial Elders Whipping Boy Alexei Ramirez are here as mere placeholders, which is fine.  The real production is going to have to come from cornermen Eric Hosmer and Evan Longoria.   Hosmer didn't disappoint in his stint with the Royals last year but also didn't set the world on fire.  Still, if he avoids the sophmore jinx, it's reasonable to expect good production (including some steals) in an improving Royals lineup.  Longoria has, to me, been perpetually overrated because of how club-friendly his contract is.  He's a nice player, but he's not on the same tier as Cabrera, Fielder, and Braun of superstars.  If he can make that leap this year, this team will contend.


Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday and Josh Hamilton is the best outfield in the league, and backups Dexter Fowler, Corey Hart and Peter Burjos are both fine as replacements and spot-starts for steals.  I'd say more, but what is there to say?  This is an outstanding group of players that just needs to stay healthy and away from urine tests.

Starting Pitching

There's a lot of wishcasting in this rotation, but if you're going to take risks in one part of your roster, I'm of the opinion this is the place to do it.  It's unlikely that Ian Kennedy will win 20 games again, but he seems like a reasonable candidate to be a solid #2 starter.  After him, we hit question marks.  Latos and Luebke were drafted high to provide rotation stability, but both come with question marks--the former is moving from the best pitcher's park to a good hitter's park, and the latter has yet to top 150 innings.  I like Ubaldo Jimenez as a bounceback candidate so long as he's spotted aggressively in those matchups against the Twins, Orioles and A's.  And then, there's Brandon Morrow, who will one day put it all together and have a Kevin Brown 1996 season.  Query whether that will happen now or in 2018.  Finally, there's super wildcard Shelby Miller, who despite having a stupid name, may finish the year as their best arm.

Relief Pitching

Since Axford is a fine closer and Kenley Jansen appears to have the LA job as long as he stays healthy, much of this may come down to the AL Central race.  Does Greg Holland have dibs on the KC closing job, and if so, can he hold it?  And is Chris Sale going to revert back to the pen in May and take the closer's spot from Matt Thornton and Addison Reed?  I go "yes" and "no on those questions, meaning this is probably a middle-of-the-pack saves team


The outfield is excellent enough that if this team even gets passable pitching from Luebke, Morrow and Jimenez, they're going to be competitive.  They're a player or two away from being on the same tier as the best teams this year, but close enough behind that an aggressive early move and good health will make them contenders.

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