(Click here for the Bottom Eight).
With the news that The Sickness consider Erasmo Ramirez their #3 starter, I guess I should have written an entire article on Mark’s weird fascination with basically every player on his roster – Morrow, Rizzo, Erasmo, and formerly, Beachy. But alas, there are more pressing matters.
Quick mini-rant: How stupid is it that MLB’s Opening Day, which should be a national holiday and allow us all to take off work to watch baseball and gamecasts, is in Australia in the middle of the damn morning? I thought this was “America’s Pastime”? Great job, Bud Selig. You’re the best.
Now, onto the rankings…
8. Red Destroyers
We make the turn and transition from one Gelding Division foe to another.
Offense: The offense is decent, anchored by David Wright (thanks Dave!), speedy Starling Marte, and the high-variance Yoenis Cespedes. I am not a big fan of the Pinto, Lind, Walker combination, though.
Pitching: There are zero gaudy ace number one pitchers, but really nice depth. There are potentially seven legitimate starting pitchers if Alex Wood and Pineda pan out, and hey, they’ve both got jobs. Plus there are two good closers.
7. Fort Morty’s Miracle
Not gonna lie – I had the Miracle at #6 before Chapman’s injury, but even then I was wavering, and had mostly given them the spot based on track record. Two-time defending champ is nothing to sneeze at, after all.
Offense: Lineup fixture Matt Holliday holds down the Fort along with newcomer Carlos Santana, and the Miracle continue to benefit from some wise advice they received a couple years back to draft Jose Reyes over Mark Teixeira (sorry, O’Con). However, I’m not crazy about the Andre Ethier-James Loney pairing at the bottom, and as much as I love Oswaldo Arcia and Byron Buxton, they’re both zeroes this year.
Pitching: The Miracle have thrived with elite pitching, and they should have another great staff this year, assuming Chapman recovers sometime before June. Darvish is a K monster, and assuming health, the Miracle have six legitimately good starters. Health, though, is a pretty big concern already: Mike Minor and Jonathan Niese are nicked up, Chapman just had one of those scary shots to the face, and Eff Bomb Liriano isn’t exactly the poster boy of durability.
6. Tony Gwynn
My biggest disappointment is Tony Gwynn quitting his closer hoarding. It worked for you, man! That’s your lane! Stay in your lane!
Offense: I don’t know if this makes any sense, but this offense is SO Tony Gwynn. Yadier, Adam Jones, Josh Donaldson . . . seems like Tony Gwynn always ends up with those under-the-radar studs who look innocent until they keep beating you and beating you and suddenly you’re dead. Prince should have a big year in Texas, Altuve will run, and there’s upside with Yelich and Khris Davis.
Pitching: King Felix is a staple, but Latos is banged up, so that’s concerning. Lester and Nova should be a good-enough 3-4 combo, and there are two very good closers on roster.
Bench: Not good. Basically all zeroes: Springer (minor leagues), Clippard (middle reliever), Bronson Arroyo (hurt + terrible), Ryan Howard (dead).
5. The Neighsayers
Offense: Buster Posey and Adrian Beltre anchor this interesting offense, with potential stud Jason Heyward and suddenly dependable veteran Alex Rios playing supporting roles. As with the Jay Dot Sea Dots and Bud Norris, The Neighsayers seem to have a weird fascination with Howie Kendrick, although Kendrick is a little better than Norris.
Pitching: A potentially excellent rotation, anchored by Wainwright and an underrated Masterson. Sabathia is a key – is he the Sabathia of old or is he just old? – and so is the health of Doug Fister. And while the two closers are shaky, right now, they’ve got jobs.
Bench: Rendon is a nice flier and Revere can run, but I’m not a big fan of two bench hitters. A minor complaint, though.
4. The Not Quites
I enjoy ranking myself about as much as I like ranking the bottom seeds. I mean, if I don’t like the players I drafted, then I’m an idiot. And since I like them, it’s hard not to rank myself pretty highly. But ranking yourself highly just feels like the ultimate D-Bag move. I guess I could rank myself lower just to have faux-modesty, but then I’m not being genuine. So basically I feel like a D-Bag no matter what I do.
Offense: I wavered back-and-forth numerous times on whether to one-year Carpenter or Ortiz, and I was shocked when Ortiz fell to me at #14. .300-30-100 guys don’t grow on trees, and he even scored 84 runs last year despite a DL stint. I have a balanced offense – Rajai Davis and Eric Young might combine for 50ish steals, and Tulo and Trout just horse all day, obviously. But Kendrys Morales still doesn’t have a job, so yeah . . . that’s a problem.
Pitching: I’d put my top-5 starters up against anybody. Johnny Cueto is my #5, and if he’s healthy, he could easily be a #1. My history of pitching injury luck is not so hot, though, so I’m guessing either Salazar or Cashner lose an elbow this year. And I fall just short of having two closers . . . I basically have 1.5, with Qualls being a pretty big question mark.
Bench: Love Kazmir in Oakland, and love Archie Bradley’s upside (especially with Corbin’s injury).
3. T Herd
Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t even know how to pronounce this team name. Is it “The Herd” or “Turd” or “Ta Herd” or “Tee Herd” or what? Just about anything outside of “The Herd” is borderline Twinkies Time-awful.
Offense: Ryan (CHEATER! cough cough) Braun (CHEATER! cough cough) should bounce back after his thumb injury and DRUG SUSPENSION (CHEATER! cough cough), even if none of us want him to. Did I mention Braun’s Lance Armstrong-style denial and smear campaign against the poor guy who took his urine sample home from his first positive test? I didn’t? Okay, well, ya see, Braun painted this poor $7.25-an-hour lab guy out to be this awful person who tainted his sample, and . . . oh, nevermind.
For real, though, the offense should be really good. Kipnis is a beast, Pujols should bounce back to being above-average, at least, Stanton can hit 40+ bombs, Jennings can steal 40+ bases . . . if Brett Lawrie ever reaches his potential, this could be the offense to beat.
Pitching: Love the top three – Sale, Strasburg, Sonny Gray – and I actually like Erv Santana in Atlanta and Nolasco in Minnesota (geez I’m a homer). Between Rex Brothers and Jonathan Broxton, there might be one closer, but not two.
2. Sturm’s Team
Sturm definitely took advantage of his extra draft picks, ranking this high despite losing Kris Medlen, his second-round pick.
Offense: Just rock-solid. Votto-Utley-Ryan Zimmerman-Ellsbury-Puig-Craig . . . I mean, that’s impressive. Obviously B.J. Upton is a big question mark, but finding someone for OF or utility isn’t that hard, although Sturm kinda needs Upton’s speed.
Pitching: I think Greinke is overrated, but the depth here is impressive, with seven potential starters and huge upside with Gerrit Cole and Carlos Martinez (if he snags a rotation spot in St. Louis). Bartolo Colon still going strong! Toss in 2.5 closers (not sure how long The Hawk holds the job in Colorado), and this is a well-balanced staff.
1. CBON’S NUTS
Best keepers entering the draft, best team coming out. Not a surprise.
Offense: I hate this offense because it’s just too good. CarGo and McCutcheon are studs, Freeman is borderline, Werth is very good, Everth Cabrera could steal 50, Austin Jackson should bounce back . . . Moustakas is basically the only question mark.
Pitching: I’m not sure how the NUTS ended up with such a good offense when they spent their first-round pick on Anibal Sanchez, but the gamble paid off, assuming Sanchez’s barking shoulder simmers down, as expected. Toss in Bumgarner, Wacha, Yordano Ventura throwing 100-mph cheese in KC, plus three closers? That’s the #1 team. And it’s in my division. Shit.