I woke up Tuesday morning to the bleary delight of an Emil Brown/Frosted Flakes double shot. Real, bona fide, statistics-count baseball! Plus the not-at-all-melon-headed Ann Curry during commercial breaks! Yeah! Today is a glorious time to be semiconscious.
|Joe Borowski again claims his own award. (Getty Images)|
Cutting right to the chase, then, here is the annual list of roto personas and the players who will embody them during 2008. Enjoy the déjà vu, y'all.
The Mark Prior (wishful thinking): A bold prediction: Ryan Theriot will be one of baseball's best shortstops in 2008 if he develops some power and learns to lay off crappy breaking pitches and stops running the bases as if blindfolded and increases his range at shortstop. To sum up: If Ryan Theriot becomes the precise opposite of Ryan Theriot, he'll be awesome.
Meanwhile, for whatever little this is worth, an acquaintance called last week to note, without giggling or crossing his fingers behind his back, that "Prior has been snapping off some incredible curves" in Padres camp. Yes, of course he has. You first.
The Edgardo Alfonzo (post-hype revival after first-year disappointment): Imagine how much of a clubhouse pain in the ass Lastings Milledge must've been to prompt the Metsies to trade him for two scrubby regulars, especially given the team's fragility concerns in the outfield. I'm guessing the trade was necessitated by a hushed-up incident involving Billy Wagner, two tins of chaw and a Young Jeezy CD. Either way, there's 25/25 potential here.
The Darren Dreifort (the perpetually stubbed pinky toe/papier-mâché ulnar ligament DL candidate): The Rays, who no longer worship Satan or stomp around to the strains of Slipknot, have already announced that Scott Kazmir won't be ready on opening day. They've handled him daintily -- contrast his treatment with that of Tom Gorzelanny, who threw a bunch of meaningless September innings last season and now can't tie his shoes without wincing -- but Kazmir still seems like a candidate to be playing long catch until mid-May. James Shields and Matt Garza are better short-term bets.
The Don Mattingly After 1989 (worst expenditure of a first-round draft pick): Several years ago, a friend and I were so paranoid about disclosing our roto obsession with Jake Peavy that we only referred to him as "the eagle." Since then, he has provided us with many mirthful hours of trolling late-night box scores. "Peavy" is a viable candidate for the name of my first child.
After everything broke just right for him in 2007, though, I worry -- less about Peavy than about the team around him. The defensive downgrade in centerfield from Mike Cameron (he of the loping gait) to Jim Edmonds (and his insistence on making easy plays look difficult) matters a whole bunch, especially for a team playing 81 games in a spacious home park. Balls caught or cut off before they reached the gaps in 2007 will make their way to the wall in 2008. That alone downgrades Peavy from first-round consideration.
The Andruw Jones In 1997 (the sexy pick -- think Shakira in Caracas with maracas): There's nothing sexy about Kansas City -- well, except Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski, who's better at this thing of ours than anybody on the planet. Add slugger/defensive cripple Billy Butler to that shortlist. He didn't exactly light up the roto night sky in his rookie campaign (.292/.347/.447 in 360 plate appearances), but his eight dingers were of the bow-before-our-new-offensive-overlord variety. I'm penciling Butler in as the league's best DH in 2010; I'm not biting this year unless the second-tier DHs, the Thomes/Thomases/Giambis, are already off the board.
The Fred McGriff (the unsexy pick -- think Sarah Plain and Tall reading Better Homes & Gardens while listening to John Mellencamp): In the real world, sexy sells window treatments and motorboats. In roto, sexy gets you seventh place. Just as the beyond-steady McGriff was a lock for .280/30 HRs/100 RBI during his not-quite-Hall-of-Fame career, Derrek Lee will give you batting average and the occasional power spurt, plus 10 stolen bases or so. Sometimes Chili's is better than the frou-frou bistro on the corner.
The Ben Grieve ("Jesus Christ, this #&$@in' guy can't #&$@in' play. How much more evidence do you need?"): Corey Patterson, currently sitting atop the depth chart in center field and leading off for a team managed by Dusty Baker. Let's move on.
The Joe Borowski (intelligent late-round pick): Borowski's patented brand of adventurous saves wins him his own award for the third year running, regardless of whether his fastball actually registers on radar guns. Then there's 3B/OF Bill Hall, healthy again after an ouchie 2007, batting behind a bunch of patient hitters and soon to be as positionally flexible as a cheerleader. Hoy-o!