SLEEPER It's hard to think of Mike Piazza as a sleeper, but he's being drafted as the No. 7 catcher in fantasy right now, while he has the ability to be top three.
BUST Nick Swisher's batting average doesn't leave much room for error. If he doesn't match last year's home-run output, he can really hurt you.
HITTER TO WATCH: Daric Barton, 1B Barton missed half of 2006 due to injuries, but he was a major part of the Mark Mulder trade due to his impressive bat control and plate discipline.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Jason Windsor, RHP
Windsor is a rare example of a crafty right-hander, working off a fringe-average fastball with well above-average control and command.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED At 26, Danny Haren has the makings of an ace. Which is good, because the A's need one. Like, now. Since opening the 2005 season with a 17 record ("It was a life-changing experience for me," he says), Haren is 2718 with a 3.79 ERA, and his 223 IPs last year led the staff. Over the winter, when the Mets asked about Haren's availability, the message back from GM Billy Beane was blunt: Your offer would have to start with OF Lastings Milledge, reliever Aaron Heilman and top pitching prospect Mike Pelfrey. Nobody in A's camp was wishing they had made the deal.
NEEDS FIXING SS Bobby Crosby has been hampered by back and foot problems, hurler Rich Harden had a sprained elbow last year, and CF Mark Kotsay had back surgery that will keep him out until late June. The rash of injuries was nothing new for the perennially snakebit A's. So is it a pattern or simply bad luck? "When you go case-by-case, you see we have a lot of game-impact injuries," Beane says. "There's no cultural problem." Okay, then. So can everybody just be more careful out there?
How 'bout that Daric Barton deal? The liner-hitting 1B, who came from the Cards with Haren and Kiko Calero for Mark Mulder, raked in camp. He'll hit Oaktown soon.
Bleeding green-and-gold is a study in extremes. On one hand, there's the narrow concourses, skewed sightlines and sparse crowds (the MLB's fifth-smallest in 2006) at McAfee Coliseum. On the other: a Bang for the Buck people write books about and a ticket that's 10 percent cheaper than across the Bay, perfect for beloved die-hard fans like the Duke of Leftfield and Banjo Guy.
"Like the rest of the West, the A's are a series of 'What if?' questions. But, IF Harden makes 30+ starts, IF BoCro plays 130+ games, IF Piazza smokes the ball all summer like he has in the spring, IF Kotsay comes back and Bradley stays relatively healthy, then this team has a chance to be very, very good."