Thursday, March 28, 2013

Season Preview: Le Dupont Torkies

Jeff, son, the "look over the shades" move
was already played out back in '91.
After years of flirting, the Torkies have chosen to go all-in on their beloved hometown team this year, assembling a Philly-centric squad we hereby dub the "Boys of 'Summertime.'"

The Philly Gambit has some interesting consequences for the Torkies, as it makes them more talented, more fragile, and more generally dirt-effing-old than we've seen in past years. By extension from the new team name, it also means that the owner has tactily approved Will Smith's all-time forced rhyme of "peepin' at" with "aphrodisiac" in that song.

So the question is whether this new strategy can take the Torkies back to the summit of the league, or whether they'll be stuck on the plateau where everybody go. Let's see.


Currently features only two Phillies, the aging stalwarts Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. However, we have faith that by Opening Day the owner will have promoted fellow Philly Michael Young to the starting lineup, replacing Cardinal Matt Carpenter at 3B. (That might even be the right move on the merits, as Carpenter is going to be replaced for defensive purposes a lot early on, and will bleed off ABs as a result.)  Either way, a lot hinges on the continued health and well being of Utley, an old 2B, and Howard, a guy who looked like he was dragging a leg iron around on a recent Spring Training home run trot. The optimist looks at that sentence and sees the home run trot; the pessimist sees the leg iron. We here at the GRBG tend towards pessimism.

The non-Philly part of the IF looks solid, with multi-position, multi-category wizard Ben Zobrist ensconced at SS, and Victor Martinez returning at C (with both Jon Lucroy and Brian McCann wisely waiting in the wings in case VMart's knee isn't back yet).

Taken as a whole, two things jump out at you about the IF: (1) they have very distinguished career lines; and (2) they are old. Young is 38. VMart and Utley are 34. Zobrist is 32. Howard has the body of a middle-aged crash dummy. There will be a lot of saggy ballsacs in the Torkies locker room this year. There's an interesting notional hedge against injury in the form of Derek Jeter, who could step in at SS with Zobrist moving to fill whatevr slot generates the injury. Of course, Jeter is a hundred and six and also currently injured. If everybody plays to their career lines, this is a great group. That "if", though . . ..


Would you believe there are some Phillies here? They are young, however, and it's reasonable to think that Ben Revere and Dom Brown have some upside left. Regardless, they'll be propped up by legitimate keystone fantasy pieces in Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Holliday.  Note also that one of Revere or Brown stand to be bumped from the UTIL slot when Mark Teixeira comes off the DL. Good group.

Starting Rotation

Doesn't exist. And not just in the sense that all fantasy rosters don't exist--the team doesn't have enough guys to form a rotation. This group thus presents the reviewer with a zenlike koan: how do you analyze a fake thing that doesn't exist?

I guess we'll start with who is on hand. That works out well for the Torkies, because those three guys are great. The rotation starts with last year's breakout stars Gio Gonzalez and Johnny Cueto, and ends with this year's N.L. Cy Young winner Adam Wainwright (you heard it here first). After that, though, it's the sound of one hand clapping.

Post-draft, the SP4 slot was filled by Erasmo Ramirez, a Mariners pitcher of such deep sleeperiness that the team decided to send him to AAA to start the year. This, of course, meant that the Torkies did not have a fourth major league starting pitcher to put in the SP4 slot. Not good.

The team has since tried to fill the gap by cutting Ramirez, moving McCann to the DL, and signing Kyle Lohse and (former Philly) J.A. Happ. Of course, they did that before the FA period opened, meaning the Commish is probably going to force-drop those guys. So about all we know is that the teamplans on trying to actually fill out its rotation, which is something we all sort of assumed anyway.

Basically, we punt.

This one's for Ang.

Extensive, as usual. However, unlike past years, there aren't that many actual closers on board. Only hilarious freak Craig Kimbrel and solid arm-for-hire Rafael Soriano are in line for saves to start the year. Behind those two, the Torkies have amassed a bunch of nice setup guys in Drew Storen, Vinne Pestano, and Kyuki Fujikawa (who, to be fair, just has to wait for Carlos Marmol to implode again before he becomes a closer). Still a good group, but not obviously the saves monster it has been over the past few years.


The lack of a rotation makes it a little hard to make a prediction. But this owner has shown that he knows how to manage a pitching staff, so let's assume that whole situation works itself out. The team is still depending on a bunch of old guys both staying healthy and not regressing for one more year. We think that they've layered in enough depth to come close, but that they're ultimately not quite ready for a run at the board.

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