Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ranking the AL Central...Again

Last month, I took a quick look at the AL Central and played optimist for once deciding the Tigers had the most impressive team in the division based on current rosters. But boredom does weird things to me and I decided to try and evaluate each team, position by position, and assigning a ranking to each team. For example, the team with the best second baseman would get 5 points, second best 4 points, down to the worst guy earning his team 1 point. It's not the greatest method to determine who has the best team, but ya know...I suck at math. Let's see how it works out. Here's each team's players at each position with how I ranked them in order.

CATCHERS: 1) Martinez/Shoppach, Cle, 2) Mauer/Redmond, Min, 3) Pierzynski/Stewart, Chi, 4) Olivo/Buck, KC, 5) Laird/Treanor, Det

We're not off to a good start as the Tribe has, quite simply, the best catching duo in baseball. Mauer's a stud in Minnesota with Redmond being a more than capable backup. A.J., while being a prick, has been a solid part of the Sox. Olivo and Buck aren't great, but they've been more solid than Laird and Treanor. More importantly, perhaps, our guys have never worked with this pitching staff before, with the exception of Treanor and Dontrelle Willis' time in Florida.

FIRST BASE: 1) Morneau, Min, 2) Cabrera, Det, 3) Konerko, Chi, 4) Garko, Cle, 5) Jacobs, KC.

Miggy's a monster for us, but Morneau just edges him at this point in my opinion. And while Konerko's getting older, Garko is going to lose time at first as the Indians will probably play Martinez there to get Shoppach more at bats.

SECOND BASE: 1) Polonco, Det, 2) Cabrera, Cle, 3) Casilla, Min, 4) Callaspo, KC, 5) Getz, Chi.

By far, the weakest position in the Central. Polonco's the clear winner here. However, the Royals have been talking with free agent, Orlando Hudson. That could change things.

THIRD BASE: 1) DeRosa, Cle, 2) Gordon, KC, 3) Inge, Det, 4) Buscher, Min, 5) Fields, Chi.

Learn to hit, Brandon. You've had long enough. Losing Joe Crede to free agency hurts the Sox here as Ozzie Guillen has publicly said that he's not sure Josh Fields is the answer at thrid base for them. DeRosa, hopefully, won't be the Tiger Killer than Casey Blake was, but he's the cream of a weak crop at third in the Central.

SHORTSTOP: 1) Ramirez, Chi, 2) Peralta, Cle, 3) Aviles, KC, 4) Punto, Min, 5) Everett, Det.

Peralta and Aviles are a close call. And Adam Everett chose to wear #4. He'll have a career ending injury by June 1st.

LEFT FIELD: 1) Quentin, Chi, 2) DeJesus, KC, 3) Guillen, Det, 4) Young, Min, 5) Francisco, Cle.

Quentin would have won the MVP last year if he hadn't gotten injured. And if you've ever seen The Big Lebowski, you know that you do not f--- with DeJesus. Carlos hasn't really played outfield before, but he's a better hitter than Little Dmitri and Francisco.

CENTER FIELD: 1) Sizemore, Cle, 2) Granderson, Det, 3) Gomez, Min, 4) Crisp, KC, 5) Owens, Chi.

Please, Curtis. Prove me wrong here. I hate Grady Sizemore.

RIGHT FIELD: 1) Dye, Chi, 2) Ordonez, Det, 3) Choo, Cle, 4) Cuddyer, Min, 5) Guillen, KC.

Jermaine Dye scares me to death every time he comes to the plate. The only guy that's scarier to me than him is Jim Thome. Choo may have a breakout year in 2009, but Maggs is still ahead of him for now.

DH: 1) Thome, Chi, 2) Hafner, Cle, 3) Sheffield, Det, 4) Kubel, Min, 5) Butler, KC.

Yep. Thome's one scary mofo. A nice guy, though, if you've ever met him. As for the rest, an injured Hafner or Sheffield is much scarier than Jason Kubel or Billy Butler.

ACE STARTER: 1) Lee, Cle, 2) Buehrle, Chi, 3) Verlander, Det, 4) Liriano, Min, 5) Meche, KC.

This is one tough group to rank. I can't see Cliff Lee repeating last year's success. Buehrle and Verlander...you never know. Liriano and Meche could easily become 1 and 2 by year's end.

#2 STARTER: 1) Greinke, KC, 2) Danks, Chi, 3) Carmona, Cle, 4) Slowey, Min, 5) Galarraga, Det.

Zack Greinke is Rod Allen's favorite pitcher for a reason. Danks is underrated and so is Slowey. Carmona could be an ace if he gets consistant. And Armando? Do it again, brother. Do it again.

#3 STARTER: 1) Floyd, Chi, 2) Baker, Min, 3) Bonderman, Det, 4) Bannister, KC, 5) Reyes, Cle.

Floyd's head and shoulders above the rest of these guys in my opinion. Now if Jeremy could stay healthy and throw a changeup...

REST OF ROTATION: 1) Minnesota, 2) Kansas City, 3) Cleveland, 4) Detroit, 5) Chicago.

Blackburn and Perkins could be #3 guys anywhere in the division except Chicago. That's why the Twins get the nod here. Davies and Hochevar are underrated in KC. Pavano and Laffey are question marks for the Tribe, but they're better than Detroit and Chicago's guys. We've got our mess of Jackson, Willis, Nate, and Minor. And Chicago has the ghost of Bartolo Colon and Clayton Richard rounding out their rotation. Big ups to the Twins at the back of the rotation. However, if Knapp is a miracle worker, we could move up here.

CLOSER: 1) Nathan, Min, 2) Soria, KC, 3) Jenks, Chi, 4) Wood, Cle, 5) Lyon, Det.

It's kinda sad to see what the rest of the Central has closing games compared to us, isn't it?

BULLPEN: 1) Cleveland, 2) Chicago, 3) Minnesota, 4) Detroit, 5) Kansas City.

Betancourt, Lewis, and Perez anchor one of the best bullpens in baseball for the Indians. The Sox aren't far behind with guys like Dotel, Thornton, and Linebrink. Guerrier, Breslow, and Crain could go either way for a questionable group in Twinkietown. Our guys suck. But the best guy in KC is The Farns, so I gave us the slight edge over the Royals.

BENCH: 1) Minnesota, 2) Cleveland, 3) Detroit, 4) Chicago, 5) Kansas City.

The Twins can start any guy off the street and he'll produce. Span and Tolbert proved that last year. The Tribe has solid guys like Carroll, Barfield, and Dellucci that can give the starters a rest and not lose much. Santiago, Thames, Raburn, and company are average for us. The Sox have a bunch of kids and Wilson Betemit. KC has a group of disappointments like Teahen, Shealy, and Bloomquist on the bench.

And finally...I promise...

MANAGER: 1) Gardenhire, Min, 2) Leyland, Det, 3) Guillen, Chi, 4) Hillman, KC, 5) Wedge, Cle.

Sure, they're not players, but managers do have an effect on the game. Gardenhire may be the best in the game at getting production out of players. I'm got Jim second, barely ahead of Ozzie. Ozzie's slightly crazier than Leyland and loses a point for it. Hillman hasn't had time to show much, but I think Eric Wedge is the worst manager in baseball. Most of my Indian friends agree.

FINAL SCORE
Chicago: 65
Cleveland: 57
Minnesota: 56
Detroit: 47
Kansas City: 40

Ugh. Not pretty if you're a Tigers fan. I'm actually surprised that the Sox came out so well in this, since I thought they had lost the most this offseason. Granted, this is all based on last year's production. Things can change...and I hope they do. Othewise, it's going to be a long year.

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