Sunday, March 4, 2012

The AL Central: Sizing Up the Competition

While annoying and stupid, there are four other teams in the AL Central along with the Tigers. And since these teams are our direct competition in making the playoffs and the ones that we’ll see the most this season, I think it’s important to take a good look at each of them and what they have in store for us.

We’ll cover some old faces, some new ones, and how they all size up against Detroit. While the Tigers are currently the overwhelming favorites to win the Central, like the good boy scouts they are, they need to be prepared. Thank goodness I’m here.

2011 Record: 80-82, 2nd Place in AL Central
2011 Record vs. Tigers: 6-12

New In 2012
Derek Lowe, SP (traded by Atlanta for Chris Jones; Braves pay $10M of Lowe’s ridiculous $15M salary)

Kevin Slowey, SP (traded by Colorado for Zach Putnam; Rockies pay $1.25M of Slowey’s $2.75M salary)

Casey Kotchman, 1B (free agent; 1 year, $3M salary)

Key Non-Roster Spring Invitees
Jeremy Accardo, Chris Ray, Dan Wheeler, RP

Christian Guzman, IF

Jose Lopez, IF

Fred Lewis, OF

Gone in 2012
Kosuke Fukudome, OF (free agent-Chicago White Sox)

Austin Kearns, OF (free agent-Miami Marlins)

Jim Thome, DH (free agent-Philadelphia Phillies)

The Artist Formerly Known As Fausto Carmona, SP (restricted list-arrest)

What To Expect From Cleveland
The Tribe did little to nothing to improve on 2011. In fact, their non-roster guys are more interesting than the contracted ones. Oh, and Lowe and Slowey don’t count because they are awful. Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner continue to be the often-injured faces of the franchise, though Asdrubal Cabrera is their best player, despite his whiny attitude and sulk face. Ubaldo Jiminez and Justin Masterson are two very good starters, but there’s little to nothing to back them up in the rotation. Carmona’s situation is still up in the air, so I’ve left him out. He sucks anyway. Cleveland’s strength is their impressive bullpen, which may get even better with the decent guys they’ve brought in to take a look at this Spring. But their offense remains pedestrian and they have little hope of toppling the Tigers in 2012 until their owner ever decides to spend some money on someone that doesn’t get hurt tying their shoes.

2011 Record: 79-83, 3rd place in AL Central
2011 Record vs. Tigers: 5-13

New In 2012
Kosuke Fukudome, OF (free agent-1 year, $500K, $3.5M option for 2013)

Key Non-Roster Spring Invitees
Brian Bruney, RP

Gone in 2012
Mark Buehrle, SP (free agent-Miami Marlins)

Sergio Santos, CP (traded to Toronto Blue Jays for Nestor Molina)

Juan Pierre, OF (free agent-Philadelphia Phillies)

Carlos Quentin, OF (traded to San Diego Padres for Pedro Hernandez and Simon Castro)

Omar Vizquel, IF (free agent-Toronto Blue Jays)

Jason Frasor, RP (traded to Toronto Blue Jays for Daniel Webb and Myles Jaye)

Ozzie Guillen, Mgr (off to Miami)

What To Expect From Chicago
I expect Kenny Williams to keep running this franchise into the ground. He traded his cost-controlled closer, Santos, for a Double A prospect. He let his most powerful hitter (and biggest Tiger killer) go to San Diego for minor leaguers, too. His overrated leadoff man is gone. The ace of the staff went to Miami, getting nothing in return for him. And the only guy they added was a 4th outfielder in Fukudome. John Danks, Jake Peavy, and Gavin Floyd are a decent threesome of starters, if Jake can stay healthy. But with a weak bullpen and an offense consisting of Paul Konerko, what used to be Adam Dunn, and a bunch of scrubs, the ChiSox are going to be middle-of-the-pack in 2012 at best. That’s glorious.

2011 Record: 71-91, 4th place in AL Central
2011 Record vs. Tigers: 7-11

New in 2012
Jonathan Sanchez, SP (traded from San Francisco Giants with Ryan Verdugo for Melky Cabrera)

Jonathan Broxton, RP (free agent-1 year, $4M)

Jose Mijares, RP (free agent-1 year, $925K)

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS (free agent-1 year, $2M)

Key Non-Roster Spring Invitees
Zach Miner, RP

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B

Gone in 2012
Melky Cabrera, OF (traded to San Francisco Giants for Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo)

Jeff Francis, SP (free agent-Cincinnati Reds)

What To Expect From Kansas City
KC will be better, but not good enough to contend. They always seem to be the peskiest team in the Central for the Tigers to deal with. They have a lot of decent, young talent on offense, but their starting rotation is among the worst in baseball. Sanchez is a decent pickup, but he is erratic and ended up costing them Melky Cabrera, the catalyst of their offense last year. The Royals might contend for second place if the kids continue to make progress, but they remain far from being a true threat to win the division.

2011 Record: 63-99, 5th place in AL Central
2011 Record vs. Tigers: 4-14

New in 2012
Josh Willingham, OF (free agent-3 years, $21M)

Jamey Carroll, SS (free agent-2 years, $6.5M, $2M option for 2014)

Ryan Doumit, C (free agent-1 year, $3M)

Jason Marquis, SP (free agent-1 year, $3M)

Joel Zumaya, RP (free agent-1 year, $850K)

Key Non-Roster Spring Invitees
Casey Fien, Mike Hollimon, Wilkin Ramirez, Ex-Tigers

No one else worth mentioning. (**Always A Tiger**)

Gone in 2012
Michael Cuddyer, RF (free agent-Colorado Rockies)

Jason Kubel, LF (free agent, Arizona Diamondbacks)

Joe Nathan, RP (free agent-Texas Rangers)

Jose Mijares, RP (free agent-Kansas City Royals)

What to Expect from Minnesota
A sucking noise comparable to Lindsay Lohan after three beers. The mighty M and M boys aren’t what they used to be, due to injuries. Kubel the Tiger slayer is off being yelled at by Gibby. Cuddyer and Nathan won’t be bugging us anymore. This team is a mess and will be lucky not to lose 100 games this year. Without the Metrodome to cause nightmares for opposing teams, the Twins have gone from a pain in the neck to a minor annoyance at best. It feels good after the years of torment that they gave us.

Overall, I think it’s quite simple. Barring severe injuries to the majority of the lineup and rotation, if Detroit doesn’t win this division by at least a dozen games, Jim Leyland should be taken out into the street and shot.

Don Kelly, too. Just for fun.


Dan said...

The last comment sold me on this artice. :)

mark said...

I love Target Field for two reasons. 1) The Twins suck when they play there. 2) The ridiculous amont of super-hot Minnesota chicks that are drawn to outdoor baseball like flys to honey, or Adelle to a doughnut.

rea said...

I worry about the White Sox.

Having a sane manager might lead to them getting hot, for  while.

Fielder'sChoice said...

This post should have the "1700 words just to set up a Don Kelly joke" tag.

Which, by the way, is my personal favorite tag.

Biff Mayhem said...

I'm not going to easily dismiss the Royals or White Sox. If Dunn returns to form, they could cause problems in mid-summer. The Royals are going to be a huge pain in the neck right down to the wire but that's just my gut talking. Or maybe it was that Big Mac I ate.