Mike Sweeney - Sweeney hit a 3-run dinger on Sunday and looks ready to be the A's opening day Designated Hitter. It seems like Sweeney has been around forever, but he's only 34 years old and still might have some pop left in the bat, especially in a new environment. Back injuries have kept his stats down over the past couple of years, but the A's think he still has enough left in him to be the regular DH on a daily basis. A good sign for AL-only owners was that Sweeney played against lefties in the series against the Red Sox last week, showing the team doesn't plan on just using him against righties. When healthy, he definitely has the power potential to make a fantasy contribution. From 1999 to 2005, Sweeney averaged a HR for every 21.4 AB, an FPI 0.75, and an OPS of .902. Since then, injuries caused him to record just 134 AB cumulatively in the last two seasons. Again, only AL-only consideration here, but might be a forgotten player in some leagues if he can stay off the DL.
Nick Swisher - Swisher was named the opening day leadoff hitter for the White Sox and will likely remain in that spot until Jerry Owens returns from a slight groin tear. Earlier in the preseason blog, I praised Swisher's power potential at U.S. Cellular field and remain confident that he will put up huge numbers in his new home. Swisher's 3-year average HR/AB is 20.0 with an FPI of 0.61 playing in Oakland. Moving to a hittter-friendly park and poised for a career year at age 27, Swisher has shown improving trends in some key categories. His BB/K batting eye has gone from 0.50 to 0.64 to 0.76, helping to contribute to an improved OBP from .317 in 2005 to .377 in 2007. I consider him at the very top of the 2 tier of outfielders who will break into the first tier of OF by mid-season.
Eddie Guardado - Everyday Eddie Guardado, now with the Rangers if you can't keep up with all of his moves over the last few years, will be the main setup guy for CJ Wilson in Texas. A former closer, Guardado's fantasy value is now specifically for leagues who count the Hold as a stat. If you don't count holds, don't completely discount Guardado's future potential as the Texas closer. If Wilson can't get the job done, Guardado is the next in line to take over the closer position. I always like to keep a running list of the "next-in-line closers" for each team so I'm ready to grab the guy off the wires if the regular closer goes down with an injury. While it has been a couple of years since Everyday Eddie has assumed the regular closer job with any team (Mariners 2005), he certainly has the mentality to take over the job and be successful at it.
Jered Weaver - Weaver will get the opening day start against the Twins today and will look to add another winning season in his 3rd year. Weaver finished 2007 with a 13-7 record, a 3.91 ERA, and 115 K's in 161 IP. After a stellar introduction to the league in 2006, that wasn't a bad follow-up. While his surface numbers look solid, I'm bearish on Weaver's 2008 potential. His 2007 campaign still saw a dangerous GB/FB ratio of 0.79 and his K/BB dropped from 3.18 to 2.56. While its very possible we could see a similar repeat of 2007's numbers, I believe his fly-ball tendencies will lead to an increased HR/9 from last year's rate of 0.95 and an ultimate increase in ERA.
Jerry Owens - Speedster Jerry Owens was officially placed on the DL over the weekend with a right adductor tear (groin). He was definitely the favorite to win the opening day CF job, but this injury will keep him sidelined for at least a few weeks. Owens' potential value was all about stolen bases and groin tears could slow him down, even when he returns. In just 93 games with the Sox last year, Owens swiped 32 bases in 40 attempts, giving him some roto value late in the season for owners looking for a boost in SB. Now, rookie Alexei Ramirez, the former favorite to win the 2B job, will be moved to CF and get the opening start in the OF.