Vegas odds on this year's LPL championship should be posted any minute now. Don't go to the betting window unprepared. Arm yourself with the knowledge that you'll only find here -- the 2008 LPL Protected Roster Preview! Nowhere else will extol the virtues of Ross Gload, let you know who Vic Gideon will trade away this year, or use Logan's Run analogies ad nauseum. And it's all free (entry fee not included)!
Dig in ...
There’s no documentation that Mark Winegardner ever told Jeff Callan that he had made a bet with a fellow at dinner that Jeff Callan would protect more than $10 worth of players, but if he had Jeff Callan would have most likely said, “You lose” and turned in a $9.90 protected list. But this year the CALLAN COOLIDGES are anything but silent heading into the auction, as they’ve got a whopping $19.60 protected, second to the defending champion Crybabies. Will they be worth it?
The Cools return the league’s top catcher from a year ago in Jorge Posada and have speed covered with Brian Roberts, Brendan Harris, and Alex Rios. They’ll need to fill the power positions (1B/CO/OF) with some actual power, because you’d be hard-pressed to take any two random Cools and find 40 homers between them. The pitching staff consists of a couple typical Cool studs (Justin Verlander, Joe Nathan), project (Jesse Litsch), superduper middle reliever (Pat Neshek), and neighbor (Jamie Walker). Still, the Cools need innings on top of innings.
The FrankenSteins have no catcher. None, nada, zilch, zippo in the catching department. They and the Winos are the only teams not bringing a catcher into the season, and considering that every other team protected at least one catcher – 13 in all – and considering that catchers generally suck anyway and considering that there’s only 14 teams in the American League … well, apparently the Steins and Winos will be fighting over future 1B and a guy whose name will never fit on the roster s, Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Good thing the Steins have Jim Thome and Carlos Pena to make up for it. And Matt Stairs – that trio combined for 102 homers last year. The Steins are basically the anti-Cools; they’re loaded with power, which makes them loaded with guys who couldn’t steal a base with a ski mask and a gun.
Then there’s the fact that they protected Mike Mussina for some reason. Maybe they won’t be spending their money on Saltalamacchia after all.
Make sure you save your copy of the preseason rosters. If the 4-MIKA TOPPS finally win their fourth Mika this year, you can always point to the Topps’ protected list and, like Nelson Muntz, say, “Ha ha! You protected Ross Gload! At first base!”
Sure, Michael Sharon might point to his pitchers and say, “Ha ha! Felix Hernandez and Dice-K for $4 combined! Curtis Granderson and Delmon Young for $3 total! And look in my wallet, I won a lot of money!”
But you still protected Ross Gload. At first base!
Most likely, the EXPENSIVE WINOS are the first team in league history whose protected list holds more than 50% of players under long-term contracts. The Winos carry 2B Robinson Cano, 2B Ian Kinsler, OF Grady Sizemore, OF Nick Markakis, and P Huston Street as B players for a combined $8.60. It would be difficult to squeeze any two of them and, say, oh a Ross Gload onto your roster for $8.60 if they were all free agents this year.
That leaves the Winos with plenty of cap room to fill their plenty of roster room. There’s not a single player on this protected list who wouldn’t go for at least 50 cents more on the open market. Good thing for the rest of the league there’s not a lot of them on this protected list, just eight in all.
GEORGE'S NEW CRYBABIES
George liked his defending champion NEW CRYBABIES so much he decided to keep a baker’s dozen of ‘em. And while George’s LIMA pitching staff always looks like a Jose Lima pitching staff at the beginning, by the end it’s Lima Time. This year is no different – John Lackey starts the season on the shelf, Carlos Silva is up and down, Dustin McGowan is a youngster coming off a bad spring, and Joel Peralta is a fungible reliever who wasn’t even assured of a spot in the Royals’ pen despite 87.1 innings with an ERA under 4.00 last year.
You can kinda say the same for the hitters, as the Crybabies have a bunch of guys who will probably do just about what you think they’ll do in Kevin Millar, Casey Blake, Bobby Crosby, Aubrey Huff, and Jose Vidro. Thing is, they rarely do less than what you think they’ll do. Stick Big Papi in the middle of them, and add it up, you don’t know what hit you. Kinda like Joba Chamberlain trying to pitch through a cloud of midges in October.
Want some saves? Go begging to the newly renamed HERSH-HYSERS. (Neè the Case’s Stengals. Where have you gone, Mike Case? A fantasy baseball league turns its lonely eyes to you.) They’ve got about 70 saves lined up for less than two bucks between Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria. That’s just part of what could be a dynamite pitching staff, what with cheapies Fausto Carmona, Chien-Ming Wang, Ervin Santana, and Paul Byrd loaded and locked in through next year.
As for the hitters – well, they’ve got some. But they’re the type that inspire women to show off ugly purses while exclaiming, “And I got it for half off!” If low, low prices make for a good offense, then perhaps the new Hersh-Hysers logo should be a bouncing smiley face. But at least they have two more catchers than the Steins! (And Dustin Pedroia on the Bonus Babies.)
Though we’re all still upset that John Buck didn’t go for a buck (although he could next year if MICALE'S COALITION gives him a one-year extension!), we’re even more upset that A-Rod sits smack dab in the middle of that offense. Consider that A-Rod hit more homers by himself than the entire Hersh-Hysers’ protected list combined last year, and the Hersh-Hysers (and maybe everyone else) is quaking in their boots.
This looks like a boom-or-bust protected list, what with Scott Kazmir on the verge of becoming an ace, Jered Weaver looking like he could either shape up or ship out, Jon Lester ready to emerge, Zack Greinke possibly overcoming a mental breakdown, David DeJesus perhaps finally emerging as a stud, Melky Cabrera maybe really deserving that Yankees CF job, and John Buck with a chance to be worth a buck again.
The high-priced players here will most likely be worth their keep. Just a friendly reminder to Marlon Byrd and Placido Polanco, though: 2007 is over.
POTATO CHIP DIPS
The POTATO CHIP DIPS started the season running by trading Jim Thome to the FrankenSteins for Orioles opening-day starter Jeremy Guthrie. That rounds out a cooly named starting pitching staff (Guthrie, Josh Beckett, Boof Bonser, Javier Vazquez, Joe Saunders) that combined for a 58-37 record last year. Throw in ubercloser J.J. Putz and the rest of us might be looking up for quite awhile in the pitching categories.
So you can expect the Chip Dips to work on replacing Thome in the auction. Though they’ve got some quality bats such as Derek Jeter, Mike Lowell, Garret Anderson, and Ivan Rodriguez, the power is out at the moment. With holes at 1B, CO, and OF there’s a concern of a great Potato Chip Dip famine on offense if one or two of those spots go to, say, a Ross Gload.
Perhaps the youngest protected list of them all can be found under the RAW SMACKERS' care. There’s 21-year-old Billy Butler (22 in mid-April), 23-year-old B.J. Upton, Alexi Casilla, and Clay Buchholz, 24-year-old Francisco Liriano and Travis Buck, 26-year-old Kason Gabbard, 29-year-old Juan Rivera, and 36-year-old Mike Redmond.
Wait, 36-year-old Mike Redmond? Or is it 36-year-old Logan 5???????? If Mike Redmond escapes the Smackers will he find some crazy old man living in the ruins of Washington D.C.??? Or perhaps Mike Redmond IS the crazy old man destined to lead the young pups in the rebuilding of the Smacker dynasty.
We’ll know for sure if every other player the Smackers buy at auction is under 30 years old.
What, a Logan’s Run sequel? They’ve been talking about it for years, but perhaps the youngest owner in the LPL can make it happen for his SAMINOLES. The Smackers have nothing on the Saminoles, whose players have more hits on their Facebook pages than whiskers on their cheeks. Half these guys still get carded – C.C. Sabathia, James Shields, Jeremy Sowers, Josh Fields, Nick Swisher (well, there goes that whiskers analogy), Yuniesky Betancourt, Adam (don’t call me Pacman) Jones. Closer Todd Jones thought he was done changing diapers years ago.
The Saminoles might also lead the league in ifs – IF non-Pacman Jones is the star he’s supposed to be, IF Josh Fields ever finds a position, IF Jeremy Sowers can find his way back to the bigs, IF Adrian Beltre doesn’t provide roller-coaster thrills. IF all that, and if the usual suspects do their usual thing, this is a dangerous team.
Every morning Vic Gideon looks at THE UNICORNS' roster, sees Todd Friedlander’s name is at the top of it, and curls up in a fetal position. There’s Evan Longoria, the Next Great Thing. And there’s Jacoby Ellsbury, the next Johnny Damon. And there’s 50 cents spent on the both of them. (Vic comes out of the fetal position when he sees Tony Pena and his .284 OBP in 536 plate appearances right in the middle of both of them.)
The rest of us don’t like seeing Alex Gordon and Joe Mauer and Franklin Gutierrez and Phil Hughes and Matt Garza and Brian Bannister all cheaper than a share of Bears Sterns stock. Heck, you could practically trade this entire protected list for that whole company, but who would want to? Todd looks to be like JP Morgan at this year’s auction, buying up whatever he wants at a good rate since he’s got $19.30 to spend on just nine players. BID HIM UP!
Instead of Evan Longoria, there’s Joe Crede at third for the VIC DAVALILLOS. And instead of Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, well, there’s nobody there for the Davs. But there is dime Daric Barton, a guy who walk more than former New York Giant George Martin. And add Jhonny Peralta and Mark Ellis (19 HRs last year, anyone?) and that’s not a bad infield at all.
The pitching staff could use some work. When Joe Borowski might be the most exciting thing about your six protected pitchers, you might need a new porn collection. At least they’re cheap! Gil Meche for 30 cents makes the rest of the league cry.
MOST LIKELY TO BE TRADED, SENDING JEFF CALLAN INTO A CONNIPTION: Adam Miller.