Using this preview: Some players will be spotlighted and there will be some knee-jerk rankings of each teams lineup, rotation and bullpen. Team previews, born from a desire to design a better cheat sheet, will start with the American League East and finish in the National League West. More previews here.
American League West
- Stud: Matt Holliday, OF — I think he’s overrated this year, but he’s still the best hitter on this team and he’ll put up some numbers. Will he go 30-30? Probably not. His steals will be steady, but I expect his power numbers to decline because Oakland’s pitcher-friendly park.
- Bust: Jason Giambi, 1B — Your not going to pay a lot for Giambi, but even that might not be worth it this year. The problem, like Holliday’s, is he’s leaving an excellent lineup and great ballpark for lefties, and going to a team that doesn’t have as much punch and a spacious park. Holliday contributes in several categories, Giambi is a pure power player now. While he’s hit 32 or more homers in three of the last four seasons, he hasn’t even sniffed his .286 career batting average the last three years.
- Sleeper: Travis Buck, OF — Buck’s career numbers: 440 at-bats, 57 runs, 31 doubles, 14 homers, 59 RBIs, 5 steals, a .266 average, .806 OPS. Figure a couple of those doubles could turn into homers, he could add a couple steals and he hit .286 in 289 at-bats in 2007, so he could improve his batting average, too.
- Prospect to watch: Gio Gonzalez, SP — Currently listed as the No. 5 starter, Gonzalez was rocked pretty hard last year — 7.68 ERA, 1-4 record — but he’s the top prospect in he organization. Yes, he gave up 34 runs and 32 hits in 34 innings, he also struck out 34 batters. If he keeps the spot and settles down he could be a big-time strikeout pitcher in the majors.
- Wild Card: Jack Cust, DH — Cust is practically a lock for 30 homers, 80 runs and 80 RBIs. If he can improve on his woeful .239 career average, he would be worth significantly more than you paid for him.
- Starter you may not know but should: Orlando Cabrera, SS — I was going to say Ryan Sweeney who’s battling with Rajai Davis for the starting centerfield spot, but the signing of Cabrera changed things. Keeping up to speed with new signings is important, especially when it’s a player like Cabrera. He’ll score close to 100 runs, bat around .280, steal 20 bags and maybe pop 10 homers. Those are some pretty good numbers
D — Yeah, some of the guys on the list have upside, and some others have shown greatness in the past, but there are just too many questions right now — ranging from the transition for Giambi and Holliday to the position battles in the outfield.
D — Quick name two Oakland pitchers. You said Gio Gonzalez and drew a blank, right? Here they are in order of rotation spot: Justin Duchscherer, Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher, Dallas Braden and Gonzalez. Eveland and Duschscherer may have some value on draft day, but nobody’s going to jump up in excitement when they get picked.
D — Joey Devine and Brad Zeigler are battling it out for the closer role. What? That’s it. That’s all you need to know for draft day. Check out the waiver wire and pick up the one that doesn’t get drafted. He’ll be cheaper and the closer by midseason.