Monday, March 15, 2010

Pitching will be strong in AL Central; White Sox lead the way

Cleveland Indians

2009: 65-97 tied for last place

Key Players

Grady Sizemore- CF .248 18 Hrs 64 RBIs

Travis Hafner- DH .272 16 Hrs 49 RBIs

Shin-Soo Choo- RF .300 20 Hrs 86 RBIs

Fausto Carmona- SP/RH 125.1 IPs 5-12 6.32 ERA 79 Ks 70 BBs

Key Additions

Jake Westbrook- SP/RH (Injured all of last season).

The Indians only addition was already on the team. However, Westbrook missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery. He will be the ace of the staff with Cliff Lee gone.

Key Subtractions

Cliff Lee- SP/LH (traded last year)

Victor Martinez 3B (traded last year)

The Indians began the sale last year. Lee was the ace, and Martinez was a key player in the middle of the order. Both players will be missed dearly.

Stats breakdown

Pitching 1

Offense 2

Defense 3

Overall 6

The Indians are rebuilding this year, and they won’t be a contender. They don’t have an ace or a second starter. They don’t have protection for Travis Hafner. They don’t have the guys to drive in Grady Sizemore. The best player on the team is Shin-Soo Choo is the only positive at this point.

Kansas City Royals

2009: 65-97 tied for last place

Key Players

Zack Greinke SP/RH 229.1 IPs 16-8 2.16 ERA 242 Ks 51 BBs

David DeJesus RF .281 13 Hrs 71 RBIs

Billy Butler 1B

Jose Guillen DH .305 3 Hrs 48 RBIs 41 SBs

Key Additions

Scott Podsednik LF

Rick Ankiel CF

Jason Kendall C

Podsednik adds a great leadoff threat to the Royals offense. If he plays like he did last year for the White Sox (.304 30 SBs 75 Runs), they will be much improved. Ankiel struggled last year, but he can be a nice addition if he returns to his form from two years ago and strikes out less. Kendall is a veteran catcher who mmay make the pitching staff better.

Key Subtractions

Miguel Olivo C

John Buck C

Mark Teahen 3B

The Royals lost their key power hitter in Olivo, and they lost catcher depth by losing him and Buck. It will be interesting to see if Kendall can replace Olivo, and if the lack of depth hurts them in the long run. Teahen is a big loss in the infield. It will be hard to replace his skills.

Stats breakdown

Pitching 3

Offense 3

Defense 3

Overall 9

The Royals are an interesting team. They have one of the best pitchers in the MLB. They added key pieces to the lineup, and they have some young players starting to bud, like Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. The problem lies with the rest of the pitching staff. They will need more consistency after Greinke, a potential 20 game winner. They can be a surprise team if Gil Meche and Brian Bannister come through with some wins.

Detroit Tigers

2009: 86-77 2nd place

Key Players

Magglio Ordonez RF .310 9 Hrs 50 RBIs

Justin Verlander SP/RH 240 IPs 19-9 3.45 ERA 269 Ks 63 BBs

Miguel Cabrera 1B .324 34 Hrs 103 RBIs

Carlos Guillen DH .242 11 Hrs 41 RBIs

Rick Porcello SP/LH 170.2 IPs 14-9 3.96 ERA 89 Ks 52 BBs

Key Additions

Johnny Damon LF

Jose Valverde Closer/RH

Damon will be a replacement for Granderson. Damon’s power numbers were blown up because he played in a park that placated his swing. He also is a defensive downgrade in the outfield. However, he can still hit, and he will provide a spark at the top of the order. Valverde will replace Rodney, and he will need to give quality innings.

Key Subtractions

Curtis Granderson CF

Fernando Rodney Closer/RH

Placido Polanco 2B

Granderson’s trade was the beginning and end of the Tiger’s fire sale. They will miss his bat and defense, but Damon should do a decent job at replacing him. Rodney was a decent closer, but he had trouble with walks, so the Tigers shouldn’t miss him as much as some think. Polanco is a lost bat, but the Tigers have plenty of bats to replace him.

Stats breakdown

Pitching 4

Offense 4

Defense 3

Overall 11

The Tigers have very good pitching, and they have offensive weapons. They need someone to join Verlander and Porcello, and they need Ordonez and Guillen to play better. If they get these players going, they will be a contender in the division. They came close to winning last year, but they had some problems at the end. They cannot have distractions, and Cabrera needs to get his life in order. The race will be tight, and the Tigers cannot struggle at any point this season.

Minnesota Twins

2009: 87-76

Key Players

Joe Mauer LF .268 10 Hrs 54 RBIs

Justin Morneau 2B .253 31 Hrs 86 RBIs 101 Runs

Denard Span 3B .322 22 Hrs 68 RBIs

Scott Baker SP/RH 200 IPs 15-9 4.37 ERA 162 Ks 48 BBs

Joe Nathan Closer/RH 47 Svs 2.12 ERA (injured and may be out for season)

Key Additions

Carl Pavano SP/RH

Orlando Hudson 2B

Jim Thome DH

Pavano is a veteran joining a young staff. He should provide more balance, and he must win more games. The Twins need their pitchers to do well if they want to chase the Tigers and White Sox. Hudson is a key piece to the infield. He makes the dfense better, and he will be a nice adition to the top of the order. He batted .283 and scored 74 runs for the Dodgers last year. Thome adds left-handed power, and he should have some decent numbers.

Key Subtractions

Orlando Cabrera SS

Joe Crede 3B

Cabrera is a big loss at shortstop, but the Twins picked up Hudson to take his spot in the order. Crede was injury prone, with back problems. When he is healthy, he is a big loss to any team. However, the injuries were too plentiful to take a chance.

Stats breakdown

Pitching 3

Offense 4

Defense 5

Overall 12

The Twins do not look like a division contender on paper, but they always find a way to win. The pitching must be really good this year though. The Tigers and White Sox have better staffs on paper. However, the Twins play great baseball behind Ron Gardenhire. They have a great defense, and they score runs in many different ways. Look for the Twins to be near the top in September.

Chicago White Sox

2009: 79-83 3rd place

Key Players

Gordon Beckham- 2B .270 14 Hrs 63 RBIs

Carlos Quentin- RF .236 21 Hrs 56 RBIs

Paul Konerko- 1B .277 28 Hrs 88 RBIs

Mark Buerhle- SP/LH 213.1 IPs 13-10 3.84 ERA 105 Ks 45 BBs

Jake Peavy- SP/RH 101.2 IPs 9-6 3.45 ERA 110 Ks 34 BBs

Key Additions

Juan Pierre- LF

Mark Teahen- 3B

J.J. Putz- RP/RH

Pierre is a player the White Sox have wanted for a while. He batted .304 and stole 30 bases. He will give added speed at the top of the lineup, and he will easily fill the void left from losing Podsednik. Teahen is a key acquisition from the Royals. He is very good defensively, and he has been coming along at the plate. He should be solid at the bottom of the order. Putz will be the replacement for Octavio Dotel. He will need to keep the walks down, but he should be a decent late inning reliever.

Key Subtractions

Octavio Dotel- RP/RH

Jermaine Dye- DH

Scott Podsednik- LF

Dotel will be missed at the back end of the bullpen, and the White Sox are hoping Putz can fill his void. Pierre should replace Podsednik, but Podsednik was one of the best players for the White Sox last year. Dye was a great player, and he will still be good when a team picks him up. However, the White Sox needed to move on. They will miss his power though.

Stats breakdown

Pitching 5

Offense 4

Defense 4

Overall 13

The White Sox made the big move picking up Jake Peavy last year. They have the best pitching staff in the division, and the offense has some added pieces to strengthen their past weaknesses. They do have some questions with Jermaine Dye and Octavio Dotel gone, but they will be contenders in September.

Final AL Central breakdown

Champion: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox pitching will take them far. The Twins and Tigers have good teams that will not make it easy, but the White Sox have a decent defense and great pitching. They should win over 90 games, and they should be able to win in their division. The race will go to the end, however. The Twins are always in it, and Verlander and Porcello can take the Tigers far. By the end, the White Sox should be the ones on top. It should be one of the better races in the MLB.

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