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In which I create a starting lineup and rotation consisting entirely of players whose names sound like adverbs.

First off, here are a few ground rules. I tried to avoid common Bobby-Cox-style nicknames like “Charlie” and “Willie.” I only used a player’s first name if it legitimately ended in the “lee” adverb sound. Only players who have appeared in a 2011 game were eligible.

Let’s start with the starting rotation:

  • #1 Starter: Chad Billingsley
  • #2 Starter: Mark Buehrle
  • #3 Starter: Vance Worley
  • #4 Starter: Dustin Moseley
  • #5 Starter: Homer Bailey

While this rotation lacks a true ace, it has good depth. Billingsley and Buehrle are very solid, Worley has been excellent this year (though his success may be difficult to sustain), and Moseley and Bailey are good back-end rotation options. All in all, it’s not a championship caliber rotation, but it’s not terrible either.

Next up, the bullpen:

  • Closer: Andrew Bailey
  • Setup: Neftali Feliz and David Pauley
  • Middle Relief: Kenley Jansen and Clay Hensley
  • LOOGY: Wesley Wright
  • Mop-up/Long Relief: Jason Grilli and Cody Eppley

Bailey is one of the 15-20 best relievers in the game, so he makes a good foundation for the Adverbs’ bullpen. Feliz has struggled this year, but we’ll take a gamble on a return to form in a setup role. David Pauley, Kenley Jansen, and Clay Hensley make an excellent right-handed middle-innings crew. The bullpen’s main weakness is the lack of a good left-hander; Wesley Wright is the only one I could find, and he’s only appeared in 2 games this year for the Astros.

Here’s how the Adverbs’ starting lineup would look (with the DH):

  1. Chase Headley, 3B
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Hanley Ramirez, SS
  4. Kelly Johnson, LF
  5. Dustin Ackley, 1B
  6. Mike Napoli, DH
  7. Michael Brantley, CF
  8. Nick Hundley, C
  9. Don Kelly, RF

The top of the lineup is as good as any team’s. Chases Headley and Utley are both great hitters and great fielders at their positions. Hanley Ramirez is, to use the clubhouse-trouble cliché, “mercurial,” but few players are as talented.

Next up are a couple of second basemen playing out of position. There was a serious shortage of left fielders and first basemen available, so I had to make do. Johnson did play a lot of left field in his time with the Braves, and Ackley has seen a few innings at first, so these aren’t crazy assignments. I had to get their bats into the lineup somehow.

I opted for Napoli at DH and Hundley at catcher, but you could also have Napoli catch or play first base, depending on who else you wanted to get in the lineup. Michael Brantley and Don Kelly are no great shakes, but they are decent enough for the bottom of the order.

Overall, it’s not a bad lineup. There are no huge weaknesses and lots of strengths. Sure, the outfield kind of sucks, but the infield is phenomenal. I think the Adverbs would be an above-average offensive team, and while they have a few defensive weak spots, they shouldn’t be too terrible overall.

Finally, let’s look at the three remaining bench spots:

  • Shelley Duncan, Alex Presley, Josh Thole

Okay, so we’re a bit lacking in positional flexibility off the bench here, but all 3 of these guys are useful MLB bench players. Probably the biggest problem is that no one other than Hanley Ramirez is capable of playing shortstop on more than an emergency basis. The Adverbs will have to hope that he stays healthy.

Overall, the Adverbs aren’t a bad team at all. They have some weaknesses, but many of them (no decent backup SS, weak back end of the bullpen, lack of a true #1 starter) are shared by most teams. I could easily see the Adverbs hanging around the fringes of a wild card race, though likely their only real chance of making the playoffs would be if they were placed in the AL Central.

Regardless of how they would do, though, you can be certain that writers would have no shortage of words to describe the way that they play.

UPDATE: Thanks to brilliant reader Annan Patel for pointing out that this team would obviously be managed by Don Mattingly. Bravo.

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3 Responses to The All-Adverb Team

  1. Annan Patel says:

    And this team would be managed by Don Mattingly!

    Reply
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  2. Ott says:

    What about Cliff, Carlos, and Derrek Lee?

    Reply
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    • J
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      says:

      Good suggestions. Those guys could all work, although at this point Cliff might be the only one worth having on a major-league team. That’s sad, because I like Derrek Lee a lot.

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