Anyways the draft is over, and the season is ready to begin. Hope once again springs eternal for these 9 young men, as they begin their quest for the Holy Grail, known as the Spit Cup. Many have joined the league, yet few have won. Has this deterred people from wanting to join, or forced people to leave? Quite the opposite is true. In fact, every time that the season has ended early for 8 teams, it just seems to fuel their fire for the next season. This is probably the second or third year in a row that I have said this, but I believe it is one of the most balanced drafts ever. Like Steve Swinea is famous for saying, "It is going to be an interesting season." That's why we play the games. Here is some perspective of what we might see this year.
In his two years in the league, Graham has shown some signs of brilliance. If I remember correctly, it has been a case of being too little too late, but brilliance nontheless. His first year had that infamous 2-18 start which may have affected him mentally some, and he didn't play well for most of the season. Last year, he actually held the division lead over eventual playoff teams, Greg and Steve, at the 20 game mark (12-8). Then he went into somewhat of a tailspin, which countered the emergence of the other two teams, and his playoff hopes were quickly dashed. But this is a new season, and certainly some new hope for Graham. He is featuring perhaps the best top-to-bottom offenses this year. Pre-season reports have Jeff Cirillo with his .400 OBP, and nearly .500 slugging pct. batting 9th for the Showers. The question is (as it will be for many teams), will his offense be enough to overcome his no-throwing catchers and weak pitching staff. I can't answer that, but I think maybe the real question is can Graham keep up some intensity and interest for a whole season.
Ken seems to have a lot to prove. Prove that he still has the apba-savvy that once had him on the cusp of a championship. Prove that last season's 72-90 mark was a fluke. Prove that he belongs in the playoffs again, after a 3-year absence. Once again there is no denying his firepower. Like the Ken teams of old, he may lead the league in both homers and walks, which some have argued is one of the keys to success in the SL. He too may have some pitching issues, but has an ace in Randy Johnson to fall back on, and there is much that can be said about that.
Dave asked a lot of questions after what he felt was a disappointing rookie season last year. He thought his problems were a not too strong bullpen and not enough power in his lineup. How did he answer those problems this year? Well every year is different, so Dave seemed to identify pitching as a glaring weakness overall in the draft, and made it his strength. Ask Greg and Keith from last year, not enough can be said about having an all-Z staff. He still might finish in the bottom third in the league in homers, but I think that is saying more about the league than it is about Dave's team.
If Joe ever spent any time scouting, he may draft a great team. Each year he seems to spend less time preparing for the league than anyone else, yet still manages to draft one of the higher quality teams in the league. He doesn't necessarily turn them into playoff teams, but they are certainly competitve. He is probably most likely to make a blockbuster deal, as he has in each of the last two seasons. The best thing about his team this year seems to be depth. Whether it is enough to compete remains to be seen, but there seems to be no doubt that Joe will be in the thick of things at the end.
I believe Bob's first goal this year is to break the .500 barrier for the first time. And I think he is also excited now, as he is the only team in his division with any pitching to speak of. Pedro certainly will help that, but he is not the whole package. His glaring weakness last year was a relatively weak bullpen, yet he still pushed Keith to the end of the season before falling. This year he has probably one of the top 3 bullpens, which added to Pedro and a lineup with some pop, he has to be considered a divisional favorite. I think he just has to show us that he knows how to use his pen and to not lose faith in them, as he may have in the past.
Steve has certainly drafted an interesting team. If you know what positions everyone is playing, and where they are batting in the lineup, then you know more than I do (and perhaps Steve himself). (In fact, Greg was so confused, he actually has the un-drafted Garrett Anderson on Steve's opening day roster) But I can't say anything about his team, as I was one of the nay-sayers about his team last year, and he ended up pushing me to six games in the playoffs. I can say this though, he most certainly will give up a lot of walks, as he has nary a Z on the roster. But there is a lot of walks and power in his lineup, so anything can happen. I certainly learned last year that you can never count him out.
Keith may be the team to beat this year. He has a lot of pitching depth, and a lot of quality hitters. His biggest downfall may be that he has Greg in his division, but if you remember from two years ago, Keith and I pushed each other all season long to the two best records in the league. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened again. And I spoke earlier of having their fire fueled. Does anyone disagree that Keith's fire is burning as much or more than anyone else in the league? He wins his division every year, yet has but 1 Spit Cup to show. Desire is certainly on his side.
Every time Greg has won a Spit Cup, he has won a second the next year. He seems to be on that track again this year. It doesn't matter who he drafted. I could point out several areas where I think Greg might be weak, but by the end of the season, Greg would prove to me that it was my critical analysis that was weak, not that particular aspect of his team. I think I know a lot about this game, and how to play it, yet he still seems to see things more intricately than I do, and that always seems to help him in the long run. All I can say Greg is I hope to see you in Des Moines for the Finals this year.
OK, I regretted the trade from the moment I sobered up. Oh well, live and learn. The ironic thing is, is that I am somewhat satisfied with my pitching staff, and am wondering if I have enough offense to compete in this league. I don't have any starters, but I may have drafted enough bullpen to compensate for it (hopefully). But the sacrifice I made there was offense. I may have the best 1-5 group of guys in the league, but 6-9 are below average. Well that is why we play the games. I guess this team will test my mettle as a manager, and we'll see what I am made of.
The draft was great, but all it did for me was further prove my thoughts that we can do it in one day in the future. Let's have a great, competitive season, and may the best team win.