Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Season Preview: Wu Tang Financial

I am not a camper. To me, abandoning the comforts of modern life seems somehow disrespectful to the generations who came before, all of whom were trying like hell to avoid having to sleep in wet woods or cold mountaintops.

However, there is one aspect of camping that appeals to me: tents. Tents are lego sets for grownups. It's fun to take a bunch of disassembled pieces and create a orderly structure out of them. Just don't ask me to sleep in the structures afterward--the things are more suited to use as cat toys or toddler distractions.

I surely hope that Wu Tang Financial's long-suffering owner feels the same way about tent construction. Because right now the team has a handful of sturdy tentpoles, and some indeterminate amount of other parts, but it's not clear whether they all fit together to make anything other than the sad puddle of nylon above.


Home to load-bearing element number one, in the person of Albert Pujols. Yes, he has probable lost a step. But he is still one of the more ridiculous hitters out there, and has been an effective player through the first week of the season despite batting only .213. The other elements are particularly puddly, though. Catcher Jesus Montero hasn't turned the corner yet, Kyle Seager is an unexciting 3B option playing for a bad Seattle team, and SS Erick Aybar has been discussed at some withering length in past posts. Brandon Phillips might be on pace for a strong year at 2B, though, given what appears to be a dominant offense in Cincinnati. Still, at best WTF is looking at above-fantasy-average production from at most 2 of his IF slots. Either Montero needs to get better, or WTF needs to find better options on the left side of the IF.


Another structural element in the fairly massive form of Gianmikeo Stanton. However, the early season results ahve injected a bit of doubt about how many chances Stanton will have to affect the league this year while batting cleanup for the Havana Sugar Kings. Weirdly, Yahoo! may have put it best today:
Stanton ended the night with a .174 average that rated as the lowest in the Marlins lineup. After seven games, he's yet to drive in a run, and he has an 11/7 K/BB in 23 official at-bats. Maybe he wouldn't be doing any better if he played for a major league team, but his owners are right to be concerned about his situation.

Now, Stanton's walking a ton, so his OBP is still over .360. But that's a mixed blessing, because it further shows that pitchers aren't giving him anything to hit. The rest of the OF is stocked with pleasant nonentities like Hunter Pence, Jason Kubel, and a now officially old Carlos Beltran. That said, there's enough depth here to avoid the holes we saw in the IF. This group really does all come down to how Stanton adjusts to the nightly Barry Bonds treatment.

Starting Pitching

Continuing with the theme, the tentpole here is Stephen Strassburg, who, despite a shaky start last time out, is unquestionably a front-line starter. Behind him is a surprisingly deep array of fantasy # 2 types in James Shields, Jake Peavy, and AJ Griffin, as well as intriguing wild cards in Julio Teheran and whatever's left of Tim Lincecum. Strassburg is the only guy who inspires absolute confidence (or at least confidence as absolute as possible when dealing with pitchers), as you can make plausible cases for each of the other guys cratering this year. But the sheer number of reasonable # 2 options means that the team should be able to cobble together a rotation.


Looked thin on paper after the draft, with only Jason Grilli and John Axford in line for saves, and only looks thinner now that Axford might be the second NL Central closer to lose his job before Tax Day. Koji Uehara has looked useful in middle relief for Boston, but he's third in line for saves there, so he projects as a rate-stat-only guy. Not a board-quality group at present.


As we've seen, there are building-block players everywhere except the bullpen, so if WTF can beg, borrow, or steal enough helpful supporting performances, there's a chance the team will compete. That said, we think that the holes in the IF and pen will keep this team out of the race.

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