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 East
New York Yankees
- Stud: Alex Rodriguez, 3B — If this cyst thing holds up, A-Rod might have to move down to the next list. But until something major changes things, he’s the most feared hitter in the game in one of the best lineups in the game.
- Bust: Xavier Nady, OF — He hit 25 homers last year, drove in 97 and hit .305. That’s a career year at age 30. Many people will assume that since he’s in this lineup he could be better than last year. I don’t see that happening
- Sleeper: Robinson Cano, 2B — After posting more than an .800 OPS and .300+ batting average for two consecutive years, Cano’s totals dropped across the board. He had less total bases, scraped his way just over .700 in OPS and hit only .271. He’ll bounce back from a last-resort starting second baseman into the upper echelon with the Utleys and Kinslers of the world.
- Prospect to watch: Brett Gardner, OF — Another OF, Austin Jackson, awaits a spot on the club, but Gardner presents the best opportunity for this season. His 2008 batting average (.228) is worrisome, but in only a quarter of the season, he stole 13 bases, scored 18 runs and drove in 16 runs. He’s listed as the starter in center right now. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do.
- Wild Card: Joba Chamberlain, SP — Yeah, this guy is lights out on the mound, but he has not been a starter for any length of time. In a stint last year he was spectacular. If he can keep that up every five days, this rotation will be the best in baseball.
- Starter you may not know but should: Gardner — The Yankees have collected an roster of all-stars and Gardner is the only quasi-unkown starter out of the bunch. He could get you plus steals and runs, and that’s worth a late pick if you’re lacking in those categories.
A — To call them Murderer’s Row may not even do this lineup justice. Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera, Cano, Derek Jeter, Nady, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui… There’s not a player in the everyday lineup that won’t be picked in your league.
A — Like the lineup, there’s not a pitcher in the top five that’s going to get skipped on draft day. C.C. Sabathia is a stud, and even with A.J. Burnett’s injury worries he’s a definite pick. Then there’s sharpshooter Chien-Ming Wang, Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte. Out of the entire rotation, only Pettitte’s a questionable pick and he’s pitched 200 innings each of the past three years.
C — The Yankees have Mariano Rivera, who’s about as automatic as they come. But the rest of the ‘pen looks suspect without Chamberlain in there as the setup guy.
To read all of Chinstrap Ninjas team previews, go here.