Using this preview: Some of a team’s players will be spotlighted and I’ll make some knee-jerk rankings of each teams lineup, rotation and bullpen. A better lineup will offer protection for hitters and improve pitchers’ win-loss records. A better rotation will also make things easier on a bullpen. I’m starting with the American League East and I’ll work my way to the National League West. More previews here.
American League East
- Stud: Nick Markakis, OF — Expect a .300 average 100 runs, 20-25 homers, 100 RBIs, double digit steals and an OPS over .850. He’s a top tier outfielder
- Bust: George Sherrill, RP — A closer who doesn’t have closer stuff. Last year Sherrill’s ERA was 4.73 and his WHIP was 1.50. Those are ridiculously awful, especially considering he made 31 saves last year too. He does get about a strikeout an inning, but he’ll be replaced by physically repaired former closer Chris Ray.
- Sleeper: Ty Wigginton, 1B/2B/3B/OF — A super utilityman that looks like the third baseman on your beer league softball team. But he’ll get you cheap power, a respectable batting average and more position eligibility than you can handle. Pick him late or risk losing him to someone on the waiver wire.
- Prospect to watch: Matt Wieters, C — As much as I don’t like Wieters, he’s still the O’s top prospect. He doesn’t have a starting job yet, but he’s better than Greg Zaun, who sits ahead of him. But some of the experts are still predicting him to finish as a top 10, or top 5 catcher, don’t reach that far for him.
- Wild Card: Aubrey Huff, 1B/3B — Huff had three-year highs in all of his offensive categories last year. I don’t think we can expect him to match his .304-32-108 from last year. He is 32 and that was probably his ceiling. He could thump around his career averages: 20-25 homers, 90 RBIs, 80 runs, all while hitting about .280. If he matches or improves on last season, the Orioles are going to have an impressive lineup
- Starter you may not know but should: Koji Uehara, SP — A Japanese import. The 33-year-old rookie is slotted as the No. 2 pitcher. If he pitches anything like a No. 2, he’ll be this team’s ace.
B — 2B Brian Roberts, 3B Melvin Mora, Markakis, Huff, Wieters and OF Adam Jones are all going to be selected on draft day. Wigginton will be a free agent pickup, and OF Felix Pie and DH Luke Scott will likely end up on a roster in your league by the end of the season. Their not the best, but they’ll be in the conversation.
D — Even if Uehara pans out, this staff is pathetic.
D — Sherrill’s gonna take a dump. Ray, who was a 30-save guy a few years ago, won’t be able to save this disaster.
To read all of Chinstrap Ninjas team previews go here.