With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, I thought I'd take a quick look at our division and what has changed since the '08 Season. Keep in mind, there's still a bunch of free agents out there. But here's where we sit as of now.
Kansas City Royals
Additions: Horacio Ramirez, P...Kyle Farnsworth, P...Mike Jacobs, 1B...Coco Crisp, OF...Doug Waechter, P...Willie Bloomquist, UT.
Subtractions: Leo Nunez, P...Ramon Ramirez, P...Joey Gathright, OF...Mark Grudzielanek, 2B...Kip Wells, P.
Top Need: 2B, SP
The Royals finished strong to overtake the Tigers in the standings at the end of the year. They have decent young pitching, but losing Nunez isn't going to help them. Noted Tiger Killer, Grudzielanek, being gone is a good sign for us, too.
Additions: None other than resigning Nick Punto.
Subtractions: Adam Everett, SS...Dennys Reyes, P...Eddie Guardado, P. Also, relief pitcher Pat Neshek is out for the entire season due to injury.
Top Need: RP
The Twins bullpen is hurting as of now, but as always with this team, they find ways to win. They're the annoying, pesky little brother of the AL Central. If the '03 Tigers were in Minnesota, they'd have somehow won 88 games.
Additions: Mark DeRosa, IF...Kerry Wood, P...Joe Smith, P...Carl Pavano, P...Greg Aquino, P...Kirk Saarloos, P...Tomo Ohka, P...Chuck Hernandez, Bullpen Coach. (couldn't resist)
Subtractions: Tom Mastney, P...Brandan Donnelly, P...Franklyn Gutierrez, OF...Scott Elarton, P...Sal Fasano, C...Juan Rincon, P. Also, Jake Westbrook is out due to injury until at least midseason.
Top Need: OF
The Indians have been busy this offseason and look to be the Central's most interesting team heading into 2009. If Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez can return to their old forms, I expect Cleveland to be the possible favorite this year...unless Kerry Wood's arm falls off. That would rule. Finally, I'm thrilled that they didn't end up getting Casey Blake back. If only Kelly Shoppach would get hit by a bus.
Chicago White Sox
Additions: Wilson Betemit, IF...Bartolo Colon, P.
Subtractions: Javier Vazquez, P...Boone Logan, P...Nick Swisher, 1B...Orlando Cabrera, SS...Joe Crede, 3B...Toby Hall, C...Ken Griffey, OF...Juan Uribe, IF. Also, starting pitcher, Jose Contrares, is out due to injury until at least July.
Top Need: SP
On the flipside of Cleveland, the White Sucks look to be the team that has gone downhill the most in the Central this offseason. They've lost a lot of talent and have done little to nothing about replacing them. They're rumored to be the favorites to get Tiger rental Freddy Garcia to fill out their rotation, due to his relationship with The Anti-Christ, Ozzie Guillen. Rumors are still out there about them trading Jermaine Dye, as well. Keep your fingers crossed, Detroit.
Additions: Gerald Laird, C...Adam Everett, SS...Edwin Jackson, P...Kyle Bloom, P...Matt Treanor, C...Alexis Gomez, OF...Fu-Te Ni, P.
Subtractions: Kyle Farnsworth, Moron...Todd Jones, Fat Guy...Edgar Renteria, Worthless...Matt Joyce, Thundercat...Freddy Garcia, Fat Guy With Bad Hair...Kenny Rogers, Old Man...Casey Fossum, Washed Up...Gary Glover, Gas Can...Aquilino Lopez, Automatic Run.
Top Need: Closer.
What more can be said about them? We need the pitchers to pitch like they've shown they can in the past. We need the hitters to just do their job. We need the new defensive lineup to improve on the 113 errors the Tigers made last year. And we need a closer, via free agency or from within.
Vegas Rogo's AL Central Prediction Based On Current Rosters
5. Kansas City
Screw you. I'm being an optimist for once.