Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Season Preview: Ancient Alien Attack

Over the past few years, Angelo has mentioned that he needed to consult Dr. Google in order to decipher the cultural references in my team names. Well, he has repaid me in spades this year, as I had no idea what "Ancient Aliens" was until I googled it. Apparently, it is a TV series of five years' running (!) which explores the possibility that aliens have regularly visited Earth and given man the ability to build the pyramids and develop advanced philosophies (although not the ability to build an intergalactic spacecraft or develop a way to ensure cell phone coverage in the middle of Manhattan, which seems churlish). A sample episode description: 
They were the messengers of divine knowledge and seers who shared visions of the future. For thousands of years, human civilization has been guided by the words and deeds of ancient prophets, but just who--or what--were these prophets communicating with? Might the experiences of history's prophets be evidence of communication with a heavenly source--or were seers like Elijah and Joseph Smith actually communicating with extraterrestrial overlords? And if so, are there similar prophets at work today?
Occam's Razor would encourage the makers of the show to consider the possibility that Elijah and Joseph Smith were schizophrenic and/or late-stage syphilitic, but it would be tough to stretch that into a 44-minute show.

In any event, let's examine AAA's roster with the help of some other possibly alien-inspired prophets.


"Then will the lame leap like a deer." (Isaiah 35:6)

Troy Tulowitski played 47 games last year. Evan Longoria played 74. (Side note: ARGH--the numbers are inverted! Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln! Aliens!) It's safe to say that if those two players combine for 121 games again this year, AAA will be in deep trouble, because the IF is absolutely built around them. Danny Espinosa's power-speed blend only works if there are high-OBP guys around to support him; Miguel Montero either slugs or walks but not both; and Nick Swisher now plays for the third-best team in Ohio (behind the Reds and the Toledo Mud Hens).

The upside is that if Longo and Tulo do stay healthy, they are virtual locks to be among the best at their respective positions. If they're hurt, there's almost no way to replace their expected production. So AAA will have to hope that there is some serious lame deer-leaping in Denver and Tampa ths season.


"Run, you fools." (Gandalf 1:25)

You know, I've always thought of Gandalf as a prophet (fond of aphorisms; legit beard; capable bellower). But now that I think of it, Gandalf was totally an alien, right? I mean, "wizard" is the perfect cover for an all-powerful extraterrestrial. That staff was clearly some sort of advanced alien technology, and Shadowfax's speed would make a lot more sense if it resulted from a rear-mounted alien rocket.

Maybe there's something to this ancient alien stuff after all.

I feel like I'm getting a little far afield here.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that this OF can really run. Justin Upton and Austin Jackson have averaged about 20 steals each over the past few years, and backups Cameron Maybin and Angel Pagan have been closer to 30-40 in some years. Current OF3 Alex Gordon is the plodder of the bunch, and even he has been in double-digits the last two years.

But while the speed looks solid, the other categories are more up in the air. As we've discussed before, a lot depends on whether Justin Upton makes the leap, or follows his brother BJ down the path of frustrating mere usefulness. Pagan is getting old, although he looked good in the WBC. And part of Jackson's breakout last year was based on a 50-point gain in BA, which raises some red flags about regression. Still, on balance this is a solid group with the potential to be better if Upton or Jackson take another step forward.

Starting Pitching

"Not one stone here will be left upon another; all will be thrown down." (Jesus via Mark 13:2)

AAA has six starting pitchers. By my reckoning, the worst of them this year will be Kris Medlen. He has a career ERA of 2.35. So, yeah, pretty good.

Just for the record, here is the rest of the staff: Cliff Lee (multiple recent CYAs), R.A. Dickey (reigning N.L. CYA), David Price (reigning A.L. CYA), Max Scherzer (10 Ks per 9 IP last year), Matt Moore (nothing yet, but wait for it). Yes, pitching is inherently variable and yes, pitchers get hurt all the time and yes. But its hard to see how this doesn't end up as one of the very best rotations in the league at the end of the year.


"You better call Kenny Loggins. 'Cause you're in the danger zone." (Sterling Archer)

Well, you can't be strong everywhere. Joel Hanrahan is the current closer for the Red Sox, but there's a reasonable argument that he is the fourth-best reliever on the roster behind Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa. Chris Parnell is a hilarious voice actor who plays Cyril on "Archer".

Wait, what? Sorry, I'm being told that AAA have actually rostered Bobby Parnell, who may be in line to get some saves in New York despite boasting a career WHIP of 1.46.

The good news is that saves come into the league all the time, and closers can usually be bought cheap at the deadline (although the new draft order rules might change that this year). Regardless, there's some work to be done here.


Look, every team has some holes and some guys that they'll need to come through big if they want to compete. But as possible "holes" go, I'd rather bet on Tulo and Longo staying healthy then a bunch of unproven guys getting good. Big-time contender.

1 comment:

El Angelo said...

More than anything else, I love that this post came full circle by referencing another show I've barely heard of, let alone seen (Archer).