Hopefully the sequel is as good as the first one.
Then again, the first one was not very good, at least for nine people. For one, it was pretty good.
Hey, I felt good about my team last year, but winning is the only option when it comes to fantasy baseball.
So I'm back for round two, and I have a new brand of nine comers taking the challenge. This year's field for the Tribe Daily Invitational II has a few old faces, some new ones, and our two new contributors here on the blog. And this year's field is perhaps much tougher looking than last year's.
So before much more of the season occurs, I'm going to provide a preview and my non-expert critique on each team. Not that that means anything.
Both offense and pitching will get a grade, and because this year was so good with the creativity and variety of names, I have thrown in grades for each team name. Indians-related names became strongly encouraged. Maybe it was just the spirit, or maybe everyone was just trying to top Chiz in the Hall. Psssh, good luck with that.
And while I appreciate the names, I can't do anything without a visual, so I went ahead and picturized each team name in logo form.
Chiz in the Hall
Nino Colla - @TheTribeDaily
Key Player: Austin Jackson
With a weaker outfield that was made up by going for quality, Austin Jackson must put up the numbers he did last year for this unit to thrive, the infield is solid (maybe because half of it is made up of Rangers) and should provide the bulk of my punch.
The pitching clearly took a back seat, but when there is little difference between most starters, and plenty of them will emerge from the waiver wire, why bother? Adam Wainwright is my lock down guy, while I took some gambles on guys like Dan Haren, Brett Anderson, and Jeff Samardzija to come on strong. I have just two guys getting saves, but I should own the holds with Clippard and Pestano.
I don't want to brag, but I'm really proud of this name. It was strongly challenged, but if you get the reference, Chiz in the Hall is brilliant and the logo makes it, in my opinion.
Male Pattern Ubaldness
Justin Johnston - @WahooJay
Key Player: Aaron Hill
If Aaron Hill is quality at second base, the offense will be fine with studs in the outfield like Hamilton and Braun. There's a lot of underrated players on offense, like Billy Butler and Martin Prado, but if someone like Hamilton suffers through injury issues, there's little punch after Braun. There's also a gap at shortstop if Jeter has issues.
The pitching could be dangerous with tandem aces in Jered Weaver and R.A. Dickey. Throw in young guns Matt Harrison and Jordan Zimmerman and there are solid starting arms. Saves will definitely be a strong point for JJ with Joel Hanrahan, Jim Johnson, Huston Street, and Ryan Madson all possibly bringing those in.
The name works and plays off an overlooked fact that there word BALD is in Ubaldo's name. It also gives me the image of an elderly Ubaldo, who is balding in a fashion that gives him one of those old man haircuts.
My Three Mastersons
Bryan Belknap - @thatteamfromcle
Key Player: Adrian Gonzalez AND Ryan Howard
If Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Howard are even close to what they were a few years ago, this team may do big things. There are a lot of chances being taken here though aside from that. Bryan is banking on those two gentlemen, as well as a healthy Evan Longoria, a much better than last year Jose Bautista, and a repeat performance from Allen Craig. He does have Mike Trout though and seems well stocked at all of his positions offensively.
There are some good arms on this team that I really like, from C.J. Wilson and Max Scherzer as the two headliners, to an always reliable Wandy Rodriguez and potential sleeper in the Rays Alex Cobb, the pitching is nothing flashy, but really solid. Two saves locks in Kimbrel and Putz. While I don't usually like paying for saves, Bryan has two guys who can get the job done and some good complimentary pieces.
The name plays off the television program My Three Sons very perfectly for Bryan, with the one downside being the fact that a show from the 60's may not hit home with everyone. Still, the reference doesn't even always have to hit for it to be brilliant.
Wess Kroll - @wfkroll
Key Player: Matt Kemp
Last year's winner and the defending champion must get some huge production from Matt Kemp to really bring his squad together. The outfield is loaded, but would be solidified if Kemp can put up superstar numbers that everyone knows he is capable of. Reason being that the infield has some weak points and has to rely on the always unpredictable Hanley Ramirez, and equally hard to peg names like Chris Davis, and Mike Napoli. It could be an A, but right now, Bryce Harper is not enough to make up for uncertainty.
There will be hell to pay if Strasburg, Sabathia, and Halladay all have the years they are capable of having. If those three are good, this staff is excellent and anchored. Wess has some guys to get saves and holds and while his staff hangs on a lot of IFs, they are IFs that have good odds and high rewards.
Admittedly not Wess' best effort, but I like it. What would make it better is a logo that includes the Indians Carlos Santana with a guitar. Like this one...
Michael Collins - @collinmj
Key Player: Alex Rios
With impact players David Freese and Brian McCann starting the year on the disabled list, Michael's team is one that will need to finish much stronger than it starts. It also needs Alex Rios to repeat his 2012 in order for it to really take off. And if Melky Cabrera can prove things are okay? Things look better. There are some holes though and the offense simply doesn't stack up to the other teams.
But the pitching certainly does. With four legit aces who have little issues that come with them in Verlander, Hernandez, Darvish, and Sale, any one of the four could win the American League Cy Young. It will be hard to beat the foursome, throwing in a repeat from A.J. Burnett would only put them over the top. A little worried about saves and holds, but those are stats that can be found throughout the season.
Oh... I get it! The name is funny because Stubbs strikes out a lot... This was quite the effort in my opinion and really well thought out by Michael.
Key Player: Jason Kipnis
If Kip can take that next step and put up a considerable increase in some of the categories from last year, this team is solid all around offensively McCutchen is obviously the stud, but the makeup of the rest of the team will keep them in the running. The important thing will be health for Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, David Ortiz, and Chase Headley.
Other than Kenley Jansen, this team has no relievers, which could impact the pitching staff in several areas other than just saves and holds. That can be overcome if all the starters pan out. Price, Hamels, and Latos are a credible 1-2-3 punch, but there's a lot left to be desired.
Our first non-Indians related name gives me the opportunity to tell you all that any non-Indians related name will not receive anything higher than a C. But don't worry to our two gentlemen that this qualifies for, as this category has nothing to do with the actual performance of your fantasy squad this year. Unless of course you believe in the category of intangibles.
John Manis - @cantstopdude
Key Player: Wilin Rosario
I don't know if Wilin Rosario can hit 28 home runs again, but if he does, look out for this team. Pujols, Castro, Encarnacion, Pence, and possibly a healthy Sandoval is a good core. They have questions though, specifically at second base and if guys like Hunter (aging), Ethier and Crisp (injuries), and Viciedo (fluke?) can all answer the questions in the outfield. On the surface though, it is a bit scary, even with Pujols probably returning to Zeus-like status.
There is no real way to argue with the pitching staff. Studs in the bullpen and in the rotation with Kershaw, Gonzalez, Chapman, and Soriano. There is a whole lot to like on this well-rounded staff.
Because that Manatee is super cool looking with his hat, and the name has some sort of catchy ring to it and is not the generic Murderer's Row that Ronnie used, it gets a better grade.
Swish Upon A Star
Igor Ramone - @igorramone
Key Player: Victor Martinez
Like his importance to the Tigers, Martinez's impact to fantasy teams will be crucial. He provides instant credibility to lineups that was not around last year because of his catcher eligibility, regardless of the fact that he'll DH most of the time. He joins studs like Stanton, Bruce, Votto, and steals king Michael Bourn in Igor's offensive lineup, making it one of the msot well-rounded and dangerous squads in the league this year.
Saves will not be an issue with Rodney, Mo, Axford, and Romo all potentially bringing that in. The starters are quietly good and the late round pick up of Kyle Lohse was a huge move. The only thing is that this club is relying heavily on Tampa Bay and Milwaukee with half of their staff from those two teams.
When you swish upon a star! Makes no difference what BRO you are... Anything your heart desires... Will come...to...you.....BRO!
Key Player: Mike Moustakas
While no team heavily relied on Indians, Brian's team has three that could play an important role. Of course you can't go wrong with the two All-Stars, but if Mike Moustakas doesn't take the next step, and Lonnie Chisenhall does, that solves that problem. Offensively this is boom or bust with guys like Pedro Alvarez, Dan Uggla, Mark Trumbo, Yoenis Cespedes, Kendrys Morales, and the ultimate wildcard of Carl Crawford. It's a gusty approach that looks a little shaky right now, but could look brilliant if the pieces fall right.
With just Perez and Balfour, the reliever pool is a little week because Kris Medlen will be starting. The starting pitching however is deep and while he'll need some to pan out, there's a quantity of guys who can mixed into a good base of Matt Cain and Cliff Lee.
The wording on this one hangs up on me, but the effort was there. Perhaps removing the ONA in it would make it flow better, but the abbreviation of (DOG) is priceless. I also picture a hotdog with Francona's head in the bun and it makes me smile.
Adam Burke - @SkatingTripods
Key Player: Troy Tulowitzki
The offense hinges on the return of Troy Tulowitzki as he could help Adam form a stellar infield with solid names at every spot except for third. The outfield provides a little bit of everything, but relies heavily on Jason Heyward possibly taking a big step. Otherwise it is just a solid group of outfielders that are all about equal production wise in different ways.
The auto draft really victimized Adam where as it helped others in the reliever department. The two relievers they drafted him? Steve Cishek and Mitchell Boggs. Ouch. He does have names like Lincecum, Peavy, Bumgarner, Cueto, and Shields in the rotation though.
Picture Lou Marson as an Alien in Mars Attacks! and this is perhaps the funniest thing you will encounter this week. I promise.
Just this week the first trade was completed between the Not That Carlos Santana and the Franconafurters, with NTCS sending Jesus Montero to the 'Furters for Pedro Alvarez. While Montero seems to fit into the same category of boom or bust, the position eligibility at catcher can certainly be more advantageous.
Thus far, the three horse race has been between myself, Adam's Marson Attacks! squad, and Michael's O For Stubbs, with Marson Attacks! as the early favorite. Todd Frazier is paying early dividends as are names like Lance Berkman, Nelson Cruz, and starters Tommy Milone and Madison Bumgarner. More than overcoming a slow start by Adam LaRoche and the few rough starts he's had on the pitching staff.
Best late round pick? Swish Upon a Star with the heads up grab of Kyle Lohse with the third to last pick was pretty cunning. Marson Attacks! got a hold of grab and stash candidates Matt Garza and Mark Teixeira as well. But the performance of Todd Frazier thus far is working out quite well.
Late round comebacks? I took a few in Brett Gardner, who I already dropped, and Dan Haren, who had a rough outing, where as NTCS's pick of Justin Masterson is looking good so far, but can't be topped by the 17th round pick of Chris Davis.
This should be a fun year. Make sure you follow the list of participants on Twitter for the extra TD Invitational experience.