Monday, February 20, 2006

Curling is a terrible substitute for baseball

I am knee-deep in my roto league preparations. Fresh PECOTA forecasts are being compared (BP has outdone itself this year). Lists are being compiled and repeatedly tweaked. The ads on the Winter Olympics broadcast which speak of the true greats' dedication ("there is no offseason" etc.) inspire me to new heights of nerdery.

Part of me is a little sad to see David Wright appearing just outside, if not in, a lot of top ten lists. Not top ten third basemen, mind you - overall. The cat is out of the bag, and hitting the long ball. Wright's baseline PECOTA forecast is better than Tejada's, Manny's, or Vlad's. It calls for a 90% chance of stardom with a 65% chance of superstardom.

To the extent Reyes still gets top billing of the two, or people continue to talk about how "good this kid could be," there are still those who don't seem to get it. But I think the skeptical or clueless will be fewer and fewer as time goes on.

I guess what I was kind of hoping would be some sort of adjustment period. Call it David Wright: the Prospect. Yes, he tore up the minors, but this is The Show that folks talk so much about. Surely it would take some time for the undeniable promise to be fulfilled*. As it turned out, not so much. As soon as he got the job, and (much later) an appropriate spot in the lineup, the goods were delivered promptly and in bulk.

Am I ambivalent about this? No. I'm not seriously complaining that our stud prospect got too good too soon. I'm just suggesting the homegrown prospect story may be at its most enjoyable when it is still in its regional phase, and for Wright the national pub is about to begin in earnest.

Our boy's all growns up, is I guess my point.

As for Reyes, it's time for me to just put a paper bag over his OBP and admit that, at least for fantasy purposes, he does have some attractive attributes (What?) . The potential for 60 steals, 110 runs and a .280 average from the SS position is just too compelling to pass up on principle. Is he a below-average offensive player? Sure. But whether or not he should be batting leadoff for the Mets, he is, and there are some "RBI-type" guys behind him this year. Plus he runs like a gazelle.

The old guard, which also happens to be the new guard (Delgado & Wagner), are both fairly safe bets to do what they were brought here to do (i.e. be among the best at their positions). As tough as Shea is, it's slightly less tough on lefty hitters, and Florida was no picnic either. And the question with Wagner is always about quantity rather than quality, and the early word from camp is that he's in good shape, if hampered by the flu at the moment.

Then there's Pedro, who's been known to dazzle... Beltran, whose star has dimmed but I'd wager not permanently. The team looks strong to quite strong. As a matter of fact, I'm going to stop hedging my bets here: the Mets should win the division. I know Atlanta has won every year, but even a blind, southern squirrel finds a nut every once in a while... or 11 times in a row.

* During which period of relative sucking the more enlightened Mets fans would solicit patience for the kid, and then enjoy an "I told you so" moment or two if/when David Wright the Star finally made his appearance.