The downside of projection

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Titan rant for some baseball talk. I am dying to spew venom regarding how the Titans are wasting their cap space by letting proven performers like Jacob Bell, Travis Laboy (when he’s not hurt) and Antwan Odom move on.

There’s talk about the Titans bringing back Kevin Carter and Jevon Kearse. I know there’s a two-paragraph limit on blogging about something other than your main subject, so I will segue in a moment. Carter and Kearse were solid performers for the Titans, then they moved on to supposedly greener pastures. Carter is firmly entrenched as a solid wily veteran type. Kearse is like Dwight Freeney in that his game is completely one-dimensional. For the first few years of his career, he was like the slugger who hit .250 with 60 home runs. He did the speed-rush and no one could catch him. Then he had foot problems and was a complete bust with the Eagles. One-dimensional guys who lose that dimension aren’t really worth adding to your squad. The wily veteran might be.

One of the keys to having a successful fantasy team is drafting players on the way up rather than on the way down. Carter and Kearse are without a doubt on the way down. There may be no up yet for Kearse. He would be like if Juan Pierre stopped stealing bases. It’s already bad enough that he’s going to be a corner outfielder for the Dodgers with 12 career home runs. His OBP used to be adequate for a leadoff guy but now it’s around .330. His 64 stolen bases last year were one short from his career high, so the quicks have not gone. Still I’ll take Willy Taveres ten rounds later.

It’s highly recommended for fantasy football to project how each player will do. That involves actually creating stats for all offensive players that you might consider drafting. The problem is, projections are generally horrible, which makes it more likely that you will have a crappy draft and hope for a Ryan Grant or a Derrick Anderson to fall to you in waivers. There’s no way that I’m projecting for the 400 or so players who will be on rosters for my Yahoo league. I’m lucky if I will put the players into tiers.

If you want to take some time to get into a good depression, read Grapes of Wrath. If you want to be instantly depressed, look at the White Sox minor league system. There was precious little depth to start with. After the Nick Swisher deal, it was quite barren. Minor league team records aren’t a great barometer of prospect quality, but the only White Sox minor league team that had a winning record was the Great Falls White Sox. That’s their lower level rookie-league team.

I do like the name of their AAA manager, Razor Shines. He had a Crash Davis-esque 81 at-bats in the majors. Mr. Shines started his managerial career with the Kannapolis Intimidators, a North Carolina team founded in honor of Dale Earnhardt.

The top minor league prospect is Aaron Poreda, a left-handed starting pitcher drafted last year. Instead of drafting a soft-tossing college pitcher, as the Sox have done for the past few years, they drafted a hard-throwing college pitcher. Baseball America actually projects the White Sox lineup in 2011. Only one everyday player is projected to come up from the minors, a second baseman named Chris Getz who had three home runs in AA last year. The projected rotation has the same players as in this year’s rotation, save Poreda. To start the 2008 season, the White Sox offense will have one homegrown player, and so will the pitching staff. In fact, the only position the White Sox seem to be able to develop is third base.

Carlos Lee was a third baseman originally before developing into a decent left fielder. He can also hit a bit. The incumbent third baseman, Joe Crede, could give way to the new third baseman, Josh Fields, who also might turn into a good-hit, bad-field outfielder. The best hope for the Sox would be for Crede to have a great spring and the Sox end up swinging a deal with the Giants to spruce up that minor-league system. If they come from other organizations, like Bobby Jenks, they might pan out.

White Sox fans can bore just about anyone for hours talking about prospects that didn’t pan out. The greatest is Joe Borchard. He was an outfielder/quarterback at Stanford, and used that leverage to get a $5.3 million bonus from the Sox. I hate it how the 12th overall pick can use the very slim chance of him being a football player to make a larger bonus than the number one overall pick. Borchard put up Frank Thomas-esque numbers in 2001 in AA ball. When he got to AAA, he stagnated. In 2006 he was traded to the Mariners for Matt Thornton. Thornton was pretty good in 2006, but like the rest of the Sox bullpen, put in a craptastic 2007. Borchard was released by the Mariners less than six weeks after being acquired. I think he’s with the Marlins this year.

I really can’t see a best-case scenario for the Sox better than 3rd place in the AL Central this year. One of the reasons why the team has such a high payroll is you have to pay for talent if you can’t develop it. A lack of young players means that there aren’t too many pre-arbitration guys on the roster. Nick Swisher is a nice addition but there’s no leadoff guy save Jerry Owens, and he probably won’t start. Owens put together a Pierre-like 93 game trial last year, with 32 stolen bases, a .324 on-page percentage, and a strikeout rate like Ryan Braun. Braun hit 33 more home runs than Owens. Owens had one.

Man, I hope there isn’t a Ryan Braun mixup at our draft like the Adrian Peterson one we had in the AUFL this year. One guy drafted the Bears’ Adrian Peterson in the first round by mistake. It took us almost an entire round to notice the oversight. Ryan Joseph Braun is the rookie sensation who helped my Buckhead Sucktards to a championship. Ryan Zachary Braun is a pitcher for the Royals. His career ERA is 6.66. I don’t consider him to be a 2008 sleeper.

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