San Francisco Giants
SLEEPER Brian Wilson's name keeps surfacing whenever the Giants talk about their future plans at closer. That alone makes him worth a last-round pick, to see what happens.
BUST The Giants' current closer, Armando Benitez, has neither job security, nor a good track record for staying healthy.
HITTER TO WATCH: Fred Lewis, OF Lewis can hit, has average power, and controls the strike zone, and he's a good glove in left or right who can play center if need be.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Tim Lincecum, RHP
Lincecum can be a Rich Gossage-like reliever in the majors, going multiple innings and racking up strikeouts with his devastating fastball-power curve tandem.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED The Giants needed speed (58 steals in '06, second fewest in the NL), a leadoff man (Randy Winn is better suited down in the order), a center fielder (.242 BA, second worst in the NL) and some good clubhouse karma. They solved all those needs with Dave Roberts. "He's won in a few places the past few years," says Mark Sweeney. "It's not a coincidence." Roberts stole 49 bases for the Padres last year, and now he has one of the game's best bat-handlers, Omar Vizquel, hitting behind him. Roberts' defense will be of great benefit to left fielder Barry Bonds, the NL's oldest everyday outfielder. And in Bonds' clubhouse, Roberts' sunny outlook will be of benefit to everyone.
NEEDS FIXING Closer Armando Benítez was hurt (knee), ineffective (60 baserunners in 38.1 IPs), boorish (ducked media, blamed others) and disliked by the home fans (boo!) last year, so if he starts slowly, he could be traded. "My locker is next to his," says new Giants catcher Bengie Molina. "I talk positive to him every day. I tell him, 'Don't mess with my daughter's education. We need to win. You have to help get us to the playoffs.' " So far Benítez is healthy.
"If I stay healthy, who's going to be the closer? Who else have they got?" -- Armando Benítez, who must not have seen hard-throwing young right-hander Brian Wilson pitch in camp.
Even after its third name in five seasons, AT&T Park (not SBC Park, not Pac Bell Park) is still a fan fave, drawing more than three million for the seventh straight year. Credit the breathtaking Bay views, a free WiFi network and good (if pricey) garlic fries. But while fans love the stadium no matter the name, one name they are tiring of is Barry, and all his baggage.
"As a Giants fan, my early prediction is that the NL West will be won by the Arizona Diamondbacks (how's that for objective?). Having said that, the Giants could easily push the D-Backs or win the wild card. Yes, it's true that our team is ridiculously old, but we've got experience meshed with athleticism in all the right places."