So here it is. The final edition of the six part series has arrived. Today I’d like to focus on our Ace SP. Tomorrow, we’ll be set to kick off opening day with our “Writer’s picks for the 2005 season”.

Ace of the Staff – <a href=”Carlos Zambrano
I consider Zambrano the ace solely due to the uncertainty of Prior and Wood’s health. When Prior is healthy, his composure and maturity, when coupled with his stuff beats out Big Z. But for now, we’ll look at who IS healthy and that’s Carlos. Zambrano, in some peoples mind, is the pitcher with the best potential for greatness on this staff. That’s a tremendous compliment for such a young kid. The problem I see with him is what I call the Jose Lima fear. Lima was cash money in his first two full years in the bigs, winning 21 games in the second year. His emotion on the mound was praised and always highlighted on Sportscenter. However, after that, he has done NOTHING. His emotions constantly get the best of him. My fear is that Carlos, in his 3rd full season of starts, will implode this year. I fear that he will let his emotions get the best of him and due to pressure of leading a staff, will fold. I hope with all my being that I am wrong on this fear. Maybe Carlos will come out and have a 20-25 win season and win the Cy Young. Regardless of what happens, I like his upside and will take my chances. He’s a good Ace to have in the hole. Nonetheless, I chose to display an Ace with a skull and crossbones. Zambrano can either be the Ace or the death of this staff in 2005.

Could Be Better
Does it get any better than a Lefty who throws heat and knows how to control it? Does it get any better than a player who is a legit Cy Young candidate every time he takes the mound? Randy Johnson, right? Wrong!!! Johan Santana is an absolute stud for the Minnesota Twins. A 20 game winner in his first full load of starts in the bigs, this kid has star written all over him. He was the unanimous Cy Young winner in the AL last year, and I have every reason to believe it will happen again this year. He has electric stuff that he knows how to handle. The fact that he plays for the Twins makes him that much more scary. If he could win 20 for a non-dominant team, imagine what he could do with a lineup like the Yankees behind him. He could win 30 games.

Could Be Worse
So our # 1 and # 2 have health concerns and that leaves us with our # 3 pitcher taking over the reigns as the Ace. Look on the bright side. At least our Ace is not Dewon Brazelton. That is what the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have to look forward to in 2005. One fan is not all that excited about the prospects of Braz.

Dewon Brazelton: ah, the mystery that is Dewon Brazelton continues to evade definition. Brazelton has teasingly shown flashes of the effectiveness that made him a first-round draft pick only a few years ago. Rays fans are wary: they’ve seen that ilk before. I offer no promises, but I’ll say this. Joe Kennedy was effective, then went south, and the Rays traded him: now he’s pitching very effectively again, and this time in Colorado, of all places. I would recommend patience. Braz is still young, there’s still time, and the rewards could prove to be worth the wait. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

The jury is still out on Braz, but it’s not looking promising. Their hopes are penned up on some of their other young pieces, including BJ Upton and Seth McClung.

Vorp Numbers

Santana – 88.8
Zambrano – 61.3
Brazelton – 12.6

Well, that’s all folks. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Here’s hoping all of our players play past their potential and we bring home the World Series in 2005. If not, It could always be worse. We could all be Kansas City Royals fans.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail