Talk about a well-rounded squad: except for the back end of the rotation, this team has everything. The lineup has a nice mix of power, average, speed and defense. The rotation has a good mix of established stars, up-and-comers, and washed-out no-names. And a couple of star setup men back up two guys who are currently closing in the majors (but only one of which was projected to do so). Their one weakness is starting pitching depth, as they weren't able to furnish even one contestant for long relief, but the prognosis gets slightly better when we recall that Kyle McClellan did some starting this year (however ineffectively) to fill in for the injured Adam Wainwright.
As this is likely the last of these I will complete before the end of the regular season, let's harken back to my old practices and start with the players still on the club. Starting with perennial All-Star Albert Pujols, even though there's not much I can say about his greatness that hasn't already been said... including the possibility of him leaving the team next year via Free Agency. (To me, it doesn't seem likely, but I've been wrong before.) Then there's also perennial All-Star Yadier Molina, the center of this team where heart and grit are concerned. Skip Schumaker made the transition from OF to 2B three years ago, but his offensive production hasn't really justified him starting in either position. And Jon Jay gets the backup outfielder spot, although it could just have easily gone to Allen Craig (they were ranked precisely two spots away from each other according to MLB's pre-season projections). Incidentally, both have had very good years, although Jay has seen more at-bats.
On the mound, the only starter to remain with the team is Jaime Garcia (who, incidentally, shares a birth day and date with your humble narrator, the only current major leaguer to do so... probably shouldn't have said that, for identity-theft protection reasons... but it's a nice piece of trivia). Out of the bullpen, we've got McClellan, who's making his bid to contribute as a swingman; righty-righty combo Boggs and Motte; and the kid who unexpectedly got a chance to close for the Redbirds, Fernando Salas. (On a side-note, what is it about pitchers of Mexican descent who became surprise closers this year? Not only has Salas been extremely effective, with a WHIP under 1 and a strikeout per inning, but Javy Guerra (although he was born in Texas) has put up an ERA under 2 while amassing 20 saves for the Dodgers. Something to think about...)
|Where's the beard!?|
Also on the Mariners are my backup infielder (Adam Kennedy) and his runner-up (Jack Wilson). Wilson is renowned for his glove, but I felt that Kennedy has more versatility and could contribute more coming off the bench. Also with him on the bench is pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel. Nope, he hasn't gone back to pitching. Nope, he also doesn't routinely post OBP's well above .300. Brett Wallace was supposed to hit big starting at 1B for the Astros, but his individual performance has been roughly as disappointing as his team's as a whole. We know Luke Gregerson has talent setting up for Heath Bell, but we'll see if the righty gets a chance to close if/when the big guy hits Free Agency this winter.
A couple of players started the year with the Cardinals, but found themselves on the way to Toronto at the trade deadline. These are CF Colby Rasmus (whose relationship with manager Tony LaRussa supposedly played him off the team) and pitcher P.J. Walters (who has struggled in the minors as a starter for both clubs). Speaking of struggling in the minors as a starter, that statement also accurately describes Clayton Mortensen, who rounds out a cringe-worthy bottom 40% of the rotation. As for #3 starter Chris Narveson, what he lacks in name recognition, he makes up with almost exactly league-average statistical output.
Well, there you have it! I have written a developed team profile for every team now currently in the hunt for the playoffs, and then some. I don't know what exactly these findings tell us about these teams' chances of making the playoffs or how they'll fare therein, but I do hope they are as fun to read as they were to write. Next up: profiles of the developed rosters of the WORST teams around the league.