HOLLYWOOD BULLPEN – I’m trying to milk a new The Manny idea (ooh, I’ve said too much), but I see now it’s going to take a dedicated effort the likes this lazy writer might have trouble sticking with. I need a few more weeks of work and inspiration for that…but let’s just say it may star Sterling Hayden as Ted Williams’s head in a jar. In the meantime, I figured since every other two-bit “sports” site out there is getting their Fantasy Rankings and season previews in order, I may as well jump in with a MTM version. Since MeetTheMatts.com is still thinly veiled as a Mets booster rag, I’ll start in the NL East. I’ll give you one guess what order I’m putting them in…
New York Mets: Congratulations, you got it, we’re going last to first. Sorry, Mets fans, bringing in the fences isn’t enough to sooth the shattered psyches (and other assorted ailments) of David Wright and Jason Bay, and Ike Davis has contracted Desert Fever, which is like Jungle Fever except he only dates chollo cactii. You know you might be in trouble when the first Mets to go in fantasy drafts this year are Lucas Duda and Dillon Gee. The Duda definitely bides, but Mike Pelfrey got shelled yesterday and the Mets have only won 3 spring training games so far…the same number of games Ram Rules has won in his basketball pool. Spring games may not mean too much, but Terry Collins could use some momentum to start the season I’m sure.
Washington Nationals: It’s not a bad problem when you have two of the game’s top prospects both poised to come up and make a difference this year…if you don’t screw it up. The Nats are hoping Jayson Werth’s prodigious beard can anchor their otherwise anemic offense–unless Zimmerman can come back right–until they’ve managed to keep Bryce Harper a minor leager long enough to squeeze another year onto his contract. Strassbergh’s shoulder doesn’t inspire confidence, but on the plus side Gio Gonzalez makes the first of what appears to be a coming career of going from team to team. Fortunately he has Edwin Jackson there to show him what a true journeyman is made of. It’d be fun to root for the Nats, except they’re called the Nats, and they also now have Brad Lidge on their roster.
Atlanta Braves: Freddi Gonzalez did a pretty good job last year steering this group of square pegs almost into the round hole of the playoffs, losing out on the last weekend even with the shells of Dan Uggla and Jason Heyword wasting two roster spots, a broken Chipper, and a bullpen by rookie-committee. They played so over their heads for so long, it’s easy to expect a reversion back to the mean this year…but, that added extra wildcard spot seems to be written with the Braves in mind.
Philadelphia Phillies: Hard not to give the nod to a team whose starting rotation features three of the top five Cy Young vote getters last year…and now Bonita Papelbom (for all you Tribe fans) with something to prove. The Phillie fans have something to prove as well, because it’s just not easy living up to the reputation of drunken soulless brawling, child-boozing and tazed streaking lunatics year after year. I predict this year they actually act relatively civil, and the Phillies nurse their way through Ryan Howard’s contract and happily coast into the primary Wild Card spot.
Miami Marlins: Yes, the upside down Wonder Woman symbol against black actually doesn’t look too bad, and neither does the team. Will Jose Reyes return to form now that his talents are out of mothballs and in South Beach? Will Hanley Ramirez still be eligible at shortstop in my fantasy league? Will people call Mike Stanton by his proper (and infinitely more kick-ass) name Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton, and might he hit 40 home runs this year? Ozzie Guillen is here via the strangest and quietest manager deal in memory, there are big question marks starting with Josh Johnson in the rotation and who knows if Heath Bell really is the kind of closer who stays consistent moving from one team to another…this isn’t a team that’s going to gel right away, but when they do they’ll over take the Phillies down the stretch just because they’ll be so much more fun.
New Week…oh I don’t know, AL East? Tomorrow I do know will be a Grote2DMax column and another odds on favorite to win the division.