The Camden Bard

Here They Are, Ladies and Gentlemen: Your 2009 Alexandria Taxibirds

Posted in fantasy league, orioles, Uncategorized by audienceoftwo on March 20, 2009

The draft is complete, and the first flurry of trading has subsided.  Now is as good a time as ever to introduce the team that will captivate your hearts from now until October, so let’s meet the starting offensive lineup that will hopefully wear out SEAL (Semi-Employed All-Stars League) pitching on the regular for the next few months:

  • CATCHER–Matt Wieters (Baltimore Orioles)
    The top prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, I’m predicting Rookie of the Year honors for the 22-year old backstop.  Some would argue he should start the season in the minors, but the front office has decided little Wieters needs to fly.
  • FIRST BASE–Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
    Votto actually put up slightly better numbers in his first full season (.297-24-84) than NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto (.285-23-86), and Bill James thinks he’s on tap for a breakout year.
  • SECOND BASE–Brian Roberts (Baltimore Orioles)
    One of the most statistically consistent players in all of baseball, B-Rob is also the heart-and-soul of my Orioles, who just signed him to a four-year contract extension after years of trade rumors.  Together with Ellsbury, Roberts will form the speed component of my Peripheral Scoring Strategy for winning the league–the two of them ought to be good for close to 100 SB.
    .283-10-58 (36 SB)
  • THIRD BASE–Kevin Kouzmanoff (San Diego Padres)
    Kouz was not, admittedly, my first choice at third base.  In a league that only gives points for offense, there’s only  a handful of first-tier options at the hot corner (A-Rod, David Wright, Chipper Jones), and the second-tier options were snapped up pretty quickly (Carlos Guillen, Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman).  I had Kouz on my draft list, but the auto-draft skipped him somehow, so I had to nab him off of waivers.  I figure he’s a lock for solid across-the-board offense–although I would have much preferred Aramis Ramirez (my first choice).
  • SHORTSTOP–Yunel Escobar (Atlanta Braves)
    Already a lock to get a few guys with Kouz-style stats, I went for batting average at short, and feel pretty good about Escobar.  My hope is that his relatively moderate offensive production will be counter-balanced by the excellent pitching numbers I’ll get from the guys I ranked high instead of making a play for HanRam.
  • OUTFIELD–Nick Markakis (Baltimore Orioles)
    The Pride of Baltimore, Markakis is a five-tool star in a town that never makes enough baseball news for the rest of the league to recognize his stardom–which, as an Orioles fan, is fine with me, since he’s probably worth far more than the $66 million the O’s just paid to keep him in Baltimore for the next six years.
  • OUTFIELD–Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston Red Sox)
    Another underrated guy (though for a much larger-market team), Ellsbury should contribute a high BA and about 50 SB to the Taxibird’s tally.
    .302-9-53 (52 SB)
  • OUTFIELD–Josh Hamilton (Texas Rangers)
    One of the most compelling stories in all of baseball comes to Alexandria as the anchor of the Taxibirds offense.  League Commissioner Ben Masten attempted to block my trade for Hamilton (in exchange for Astros closer Jose Valverde and Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour), but justice and America’s desire to see The Muskellunges (Masten’s squad) lose ultimately prevailed. Plus, I successfully prevented him from acquiring Brandon Webb for Aramis Ramirez as revenge.
  • DH–Jim Thome (Chicago White Sox)
    One of the all-time great sluggers is on the downhill slope of his Hall of Fame career, but he should be good for 30-some homers and close to 100 RBI, especially given the continued strength of Chicago’s lineup.  On an unrelated-to-fantasy-league note, there are fewer and fewer hitters of his generation free from the stain of steroid abuse, and it’s nice to see him getting the credit he’s always deserved.
    none provided–there was some concern about Thome’s back being ready during the offseason, apparently enough for James to leave him out of this year’s book.  My personal guess is that he’ll be in the neighborhood of .250-35-95.
    OF Rick Ankiel (St. Louis Cardinals), OF Jay Bruce (Cincinatti Reds), 1B/3B/OF Ty Wigginton (Baltimore Orioles), C Kelly Shoppach (Cleveland Indians), SS Cesar Izturis (Baltimore Orioles)

In comparing my offense to the others around the SEAL, I feel pretty confident, though I wish I had another masher or two in the lineup, especially since I ended up with the #2 overall draft pick (though there’s no way I could have known that ahead of time) and could easily have landed ManRam, Ryan Braun, or any number of other monster sluggers–hence the trade for Hamilton.  My priorities going into the draft were as follows:

  1. Get Nick Markakis
  2. Get Matt Wieters
  3. Get Brian Roberts (so as to have my teams fortunes rise and fall with those of my beloved real-life Orioles–do not laugh!  I suspect Dr. Flav of employing the same strategy–his first four draft picks were Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Brad Lidge)
  4. Find underrated hitters to fill power spots in the lineup and use my higher draft cards for pitching…

…which is how I landed Diamond Roy Oswalt, the ace of my pitching staff–but that’s a story for tomorrow.

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