Friday, March 29, 2013

Season Preview: Jeters Never Prosper

We here at the GRBG are close--so very, very close--to having Derek Pamela Jeter out of our lives forever. Jeter of course broke his ankle last October, during this freak incident:

The freak incident was that he sucessfully made a play to his left.
Jeter's still not all the way back yet, as he'll start the season on the DL. Thus, we thought that we had finally arrived at the magical moment in history when the Jeters Never Prosper team name would finally be accurate.

Then of course, came word that Jeter has replaced Minka Kelly with the Direct TV Genie Girl, who is 22 and looks like this:

That green bar is . . . suggestive.

So maybe the time of Jeter has not yet ended.

Jeter's unlikely personal revival is mirrored in the fortunes of the JNP team, who look to be in prime position to rebound from a rare second-division finish and make another run at the board.


This unit is sort of a microcosm of the team as a whole, in that while there isn't a huge amount of surface appeal, there also aren't really any holes to speak of. Prince Fielder is the cornerstone of the group at 1B. Mike Napoli and Aramis Ramirez provide proven production (especially in OBP) at C and 3B, even if neither has much upside left at this point in their careers. And Jason Kipnis and Ian Desmond provide power, speed, and youth. Official non-sleeper sleeper of the year Anthony Rizzo is also on hand as the UTIL right now, although there are yet more boring, stable vets around to step in if Rizzo fails to meet the hype.

With the exception of Fielder, it's unlikely that any of these IF gusy will be amoong the top 3 at their positions this year. But there also aren't any guys who are objectively likely to be much below fantasy average (although I harbor a subjective feeling that Ramirez is in for an injury-plagued year--he usually has one every 3-4 years or so). The players also have complementary strengths, with dead slow but above-average OBP guys at C and 3B balanced out by hacktastic but above-average HR/SB threats in the middle infield. This is a well-contructed group.


Populated with a mix of guys we think are way overrated and guys we think are underrated, meaning that like the IF, things average out about right. We have grave concerns about Adrian Gonzalez, whose power stroke never came back after a shoulder injury a few years ago. Even his high OBPs in San Diego look suspect in hindsight, because they were padded out with a ton of intentional walks that Gonzo hasn't gotten once surrounded by better hitters. We also think the Andre Ethier benefitted from 10 unsustainably good weeks last year.

However, Alejandro de Aza was a fantastic value pick late in the draft. And while Jayson Werth is no longer a fantasy keystone (and spells both of his own names wrong), he's a nice security blanket as a bench OF. As with the IF, the end result is a solid squad.

Starting Pitching

Yep, same deal. Yu "Whirling" Darivsh had some BB-related bumps last year, but the computer projection systems I've seen love him for this year. The saber guys are also reconsidering Jered Weaver on the theory that he might be one of the rare SPs capable of suppressing batting average on balls in play. I think lots of us like Brett Anderson as a counce-back guy this year, and he's here too, along with fellow lefty fireballer Chris Sale.  That's not to say that it's all good news--there are a few iffy guys as well. Josh Johnson has been going in the wrong direction for a bit, and is moving to a harder park in the harder league, and Ryan Vogelsong has been dancing between the raindrops for a few years now. But regardless, there's more than enough talent on hand to form an effective rotation.


There are four current closers on hand, which is more than we've seen for any other team to this point. Jon Papelbon and JJ Putz are about as reliable as it gets in the closer category (although given the churn in closers in recent years, that's not saying much). However, Ernesto Frieri and Chris Perez are decent bets to lose their gigs before the All-Star break, in Frieri's case because Ryan Madson will return, and in Perez's case because he isn't all that good at baseball. So there will be more to do here as the season progresses.


I would wager that the word "sucks" appears in about 83% of the season previews we've written over the past seven years. And that's not (entirely) because of undue negativity on our part--it's really hard to assemble an Opening Day roster without an obvious hole or too. But nothing here sucks. We can offer no higher compliment.

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