April 17, 2011 at 12:00 am #2519Jeff WinickParticipant
It’s that time again. Pippin no longer has much to say, but the tradition begun long ago with Pippin’s Projections and the rebuttal “Pippin’s Nothing But a Dog” continues.
With all the bitching and moaning from Brad Jansen, one can only draw the inescapable conclusion that that certain someone is in desperate need of that which his initials are also known to stand for. But I was not to be dissuaded and I will offer my projections nonetheless:
10 – Hoosier Daddies – Surprise, surprise. You had to be expecting to see the Block’s Bombers here, but as we’ll discuss further down the page, that team, while bad, is still better than this one. There are simply too many non-productive players on this roster. Castro, Getz, Ryan, Saunders and Rodriguez are all guys that won’t put up much, if any, offensive value. And many of the following are going to be filling key pitching slots this year and that does not bode well: Litsch, Buehrle, Carmona, Vargas and O’Day. Without much in the way of trade bait to make a run this year, the smart money is on this smart player pulling back and playing for the future.
9 – Riptorns – It should be time for this once uber franchise to return to relevance, but a quick perusal of his roster makes it clear that you’re going to have to be patient if you’re waiting for another Riptorn title. Bottom line – this team is not good. Start with the catchers. Cervelli and Shoppach? Zero and Zero. Rhymes, Nix, Hughes are three more dead slots. But the real problem is that the supposedly productive slots are occupied by overpriced bums. Brad Lee took all that hard earned draft money and wasted it. $18 on Chone Figgins, $29 on Adam Dunn, $12 on Magglio Ordonez, $11 on Peter Bourjos, $15 on Tsuyoshi Nishioka and $8 on Hideki Matsui (when he could have had David Ortiz for $2). What do these guys have in common? They’re either over the hill, perennially injured, batting average drains or some combination of the three. The pitching is good, but not nearly as good as Brad Lee thought and not nearly good enough to overcome the consequences of too many holes in the offense. Even the great Brad Lee won’t be able to fill them. And he’s too smart to fight the inevitable. The seeds for a successful future are already in place. Count on Brad Lee to start farming (or is that fishing) very, very soon.
8 – Block’s Bombers – This team is in rebuilding mode as evidenced by the brilliant moves at the end of last season. Why will this team finish ahead of the Riptorns? Just look at the catchers. Mr. B was wise enough to trade for Wieters and to draft the resurgent Alex Avila. Luke Scott, Brett Gardner, Brent Morel, Ricky Romero, Brian Duensing, Derek Holland and Jake McGee all provide hope for the future. Sure, Liriano, Hughes, Quentin and Rivera all look like busts, but that will all be forgotten by next year. Cano, Butler, Reynolds and Papelbon are the bait to go fishing and further stock the cupboard for next year. All signs pointing up.
7 – Nukes – It’s beginning to look like the Nukes rebuilding plan is a two year plan. The injuries to Mauer and Piniero, the disappearance of Jaso and Rodney and too many holes in both the offense and the pitching mean that it’s going to take one more year to put this all together. Andrus, Hill and Lind as well as perhaps some of the pitchers are sure to draw some nice chattel. And if history is instructive, the Nukes won’t wait around like some other rebuilding teams deciding when or whether it’s the right time to make a move. The odds on favorite for the 2012 title.
6 – Angry Young Men – The great thing about this season is that any of the top 6 teams could win it all. The Angry Young Men have more reason to consolidate things for next year and are therefore predicted to do exactly that. But if they decide to give it a go, they could certainly challenge for the Damon. The challenges start with the absence of speed. In this game, no speed costs you in two categories since speed translates into runs. And, sure enough, the AYM come up short in that category as well. Couple that with questionable batting average and it would take some serious work to fix the offense if all systems are go for 2011. But if Doug is willing to move guys like Hellickson, Drabek and Ackley, those holes will get filled. I’m betting that Doug is looking for a stronger shot at a title that a little patience will bring, so he settles in at #6, but the ball is in Doug’s court. This is a #6 rating with an arrow up.
5 – Brats – Any team with an offense built around Miguel Cabrera and Nelson Cruz can’t be overlooked. But there’s not much speed and this team is almost certain to have a brutal average. That means that the pitching has to overcome those faults. And with Slowey a reliever (and on the DL), James Shields looking overpriced, guys like Johnson, Hochevar, Mazzaro and others looking thoroughly ordinary (at best) and Soria, while great, not enough to earn more than 5-6 points in saves, there’s likely not enough here to bring a title.
4 – Berliners – The crown rests heavy. But the presence of the crown signifies royalty and this squad has nobility written all over it. How the league let the champ return with this kind of talent is hard to fathom. There are some holes in this offense, including an empty corner slot (Teahen) a questionable middle slot (Casilla) and a need for some young outfielders to prove they’re for real (Jackson and Snider). But the foundation of a 40+ point offense are present. The pitching needs to round into form, but the base of Verlander and Lester is a very nice place to start. With lots of solid youngsters to swap in and out of the lineup (Porcello, Cecil, Francis, Tomlin, Matusz and new stud pickup Harrison) the starting pitching should be solid. The problem is the relief corps. Or in the immortal words of Ozzie, this team “has no *&^%*&$ closer”. Thornton looks like a bust and none of the middle relievers look likely to garner saves. So it’s going to take some trades to get this team over the hump. But history suggests that this team has the gumption to pull off the key deals necessary to make a run at it. Is there a repeat title in the reigning champs? Just maybe.
3 – Calamari – The can be little doubt that the Calamari had a great draft and that has put the Calamari in the thick of things for 2011. A very strong pitching staff bolstered by King Felix, Dan Haren and CJ Wilson provide the foundation. The key to the pitching staff will be Joe Nathan rediscovering his form. If that comes (and it should), there’s a stable base of 35+ pitching points. The question then, is the offense. The loss of Manny is a serious blow since there are no obvious replacements on the Calamari reserve roster. But there are no other gaping holes and a high upside guy like Lowrie is indicative of the potential of this offense. Jim’s not normally a wheeler-dealer but if ever there was a year to go for the glory, this is it.
2 – Red Hots – The man who should be king…..but won’t. There’s no challenging the fact that the Red Hots went into the draft as overwhelming favorites. A killer list of offensive keepers meant all Rich had to do was play it safe and come out of the draft with a solid pitching staff. But someone needed one more cup of coffee. Perhaps the Berliners were stupid to overpay for Lester and Verlander, but the Red Hots were the one team that could afford to outbid him. Instead they ended up with a rotation of David Price and then…well….trouble. Brandon Morrow is coming off a great season, but one in which his workload increased dramatically. And, what do you know, he’s hurt. Gavin Floyd turned to crap at the end of the season and appears to have settled into that status. The only other guys that can help out are the potentially done for the year Duchscherer and a thoroughly mediocre Jeff Niemann. The stable of middle relievers won’t really hurt, but it also won’t help. The injury to Longoria shouldn’t be a problem as long as he heals quickly. The bigger problem is that (putting aside the difficulty this team has in dealing its prospects) it really doesn’t have much to deal. Hosmer is top notch, but after that the cupboard looks a little bare. Who knows, maybe Yorvit will bring a huge return. This is a very good team and just might get it done. But the early betting line says the draft day hiccups will cost it a title due to the good fortune of the following team.
1 – Klein Nine – Is this the year it all comes together for the Klein Nine? Barring an inability to re-focus his attention on winning rather than bashing his former co-conspirator Mark Blocker (remember COPS), the answer should be YES. He’s certainly gotten all the breaks so far. No serious injuries to worry about coupled with a strong core of veteran players leading the charge (A Rod, Kinsler, Beltre, Gonzalez) makes the Nine look hard to beat. The offense will be awesome and should put up big totals across the board. This is the top offensive team and by a potentially healthy margin. Almost shockingly, though, the pitching staff looks okay. Guthrie and Jackson provide the base and the supporting cast looks strong as well. The ERA and Ratio may not be pretty, but there will be plenty of wins and strikeouts. Rivera and the soon to be closing Uehara will be pulling down saves, so this team should garner more than enough pitching points to put it over the top. Of course, all of that assumes that as we approach the finish line, lady luck and Mr. B don’t once again conspire to bring this storied franchise down to earth. Don’t bet on it.
April 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm #2520Richard RobbinsKeymaster
At first I got excited when I saw that Jeffrey declared the K-9 as frontrunners based, in part, on a lack of injuries. Then I surfed over to rotoworld.com, and saw the following: Braden to the DL. A-Rod out with oblique/back problems. Gutierrez going to the Mayo Clinic instead of rehab. … Thanks for nothing, Jeff.
Anyway, a bit of history about Pippin’s projections. Before Pippin (may she rest in peace) was a gleam in her mother’s eyes, I published the “Candy Ass Projections.” Those were a response to Winick’s post-draft calculations that always found his team the best, while declaring Alex Liberman’s team the worst. Alex didn’t like that, and since one of his pet phrases was “candy ass” (whatever that means), a responsive document was produced. The following year, Pippin arrived and Pippin’s Projections were born, soon followed by Pippin’s Nothing But a Dog commentary from Jeff/Shandler, et al.
As for this year’s version, I’m calling the Calamari the favorite based on the quaint idea that Jim’s roster has the best players. Of course, one never knows what a Wieters, a Wood, or a temporarily-insane Mark Blocker will do to the dynamic of a pennant race. So it should be a fun season!
April 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm #2521Richard RobbinsKeymaster
A couple of follow-up points, Professor.
#1 – The Braden loss hurts, but ARod will be fine and the Gutierrez problems were already factored into the projection.
#2 – The Calamari just lost Nathan as a closer today, so I wouldn’t be too bullish on their chances. And as far as Jim having the best players, I beg to differ. The Klein Nine offense smokes the Calamari offense as does the Red Hots offense. And the Klein Nine have 1 1/2 – 2 closers to the Calamari’s none – 1/2.
#3 – The Shandler software does, in fact, show the Berliners having the best team, but this year’s projections like every other year’s projections only uses that information as a component of the overall analysis.
#4 – Though I doubt you will take heed, you might want to re-read the first sentence of my analysis of the Klein Nine. It would appear that you are unable to move on from last year’s disappointment. That is sure to lead to another year of disappointment.
That is all.
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