Team: Fanball.com (Charlie Wiegert)
Year in League - 3rd
Previous Finishes: 3rd, 1st (defending champion)
Projected 2010 Finish (Sportsline Projections): 8th
Catchers: Bengie Molina $7, Ivan Rodriguez $3.
Corner Infield: Aramis Ramirez $26, Melvin Mora $3, Derrek Lee $27.
Middle Infield: Ryan Theriot $14, Casey McGehee $10, Eric Young Jr. $1
Outfield: Seth Smith $7, Alfonso Soriano $20, Carlos Gonzalez $17, Brad Hawpe $19, Xavier Nady $4, Willy Taveras $1.
Pitchers: Tommy Hanson $26, Brian Wilson $20, Derek Lowe $11, Jonathan Sanchez $15, Leo Nunez $10, Kevin Correia $6, Takashi Saito $4, Brad Penny $6, Ryan Madson $3.
Reserves: Eugenio Velez, Rick VandenHurk, Billy Buckner, Fernando Tatis, Andres Torres, Jaime Moyer, Scott Olsen.
Hitting/Pitching Split: $159/$101
Categorical Strengths: Batting average, saves, ERA.
Categorical Weaknesses: Home runs.
I've been running through these team-by-team analyses in order of projected team finish. I should point out that there's a projected 10 1/2 point gap between the best projected team and the Fanball team. Start-over leagues generally are tight - since there aren't freezes to deal with - and expert leagues are usually particularly tight. Charlie Wiegert's team might be an "8th place team", but he has what looks like a fairly competitive squad.
Like me, Wiegert held on to his money early and didn't push anyone past $27. His offense looks solid, but given that he only spent $159, he might have been better off dumping a category. He's weak in home runs, middle-of-the-pack in runs, RBI and steals, and strong in batting average. Given the balanced approach he took, he's got too many non-starters on offense in Nady, Taveras, Young, Mora and Smith and also runs the risk of losing time behind the dish with Molina/Pudge if the young catchers behind them start usurping time over the season. While Taveras and Young offer him a lot of SB upside, I don't see that kind of upside in any of the other offensive categories, and there really isn't enough upside in any of these other prices to think that his stronger hitters are going to make up for this offense.
His pitching staff's strength is definitely in its bullpen. Wilson and Nunez at a combined $30 should work out well, while Saito and Madson are both strong hedges to some shakier closers. My only complaint would be paying more than $2 for any closers-in-waiting. Last season's CIWs that worked out - Rafael Soriano, Ryan Franklin, and Nunez - all went for an average salary of $2 or less in 2009. Wiegert's big advantage here is that if Madson or Saito work out he has a good trade opportunity, but the extra dollar or two don't build in any guarantees. I am a fan of having middle relievers on the staff as a hedge against ERA/WHIP damage.
The rotation is good, but the prices for Hanson, Sanchez, and Lowe all seem a little high. Hanson and Sanchez are good upside picks, but at these prices the upside is narrow. I don't like Lowe outside of Los Angeles, and while he might not pitch as badly as he did last year, league average seems like his best case scenario. I like Correia in Petco at $6.
Overall, this team is solid enough that it should be at least middle-of-the-pack, but it needs a good deal of offensive help if it is going to crack the Top 4. I can't argue with Wiegert's track record though; there's a good chance that with his skill, Wiegert will prove me very wrong.