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Saturday, March 18, 2006

AL Central Preview

1. Chicago White Sox * Division Winners
Lineup:
LF Scott Podsednik
2B Tadhito Iguchi
DH Jim Thome
1B Paul Konerko
RF Jermaine Dye
3B Joe Crede
C A.J. Pierzynski
SS Juan Uribe
CF Brian Anderson

Rotation:
LHP Mark Buerhle
RHPJon Garland
RHP Jose Contraras
RHP Freddy Garcia
RHP Javier Vazquez
Closer: Bobby Jenks

The White Sox have improved on the team that won the 2005 World Series and they look like they are primed to make it deep into the playoffs once again. Jim Thome should return to 40+ home run form to give the White Sox one of the most feared lineups in the league to go along with a power staff.

2. Cleveland Indians
Lineup:
CF Grady Sizemore
LF Jason Michaels
SS Johnny Peralta
DH Travis Halfner
C Victor Martinez
2B Ronnie Belliard
1B Ben Broussard
3B Aaron Boone
RF Casey Blake

Rotation:
LHP C.C. Sabathia
RHP Paul Byrd
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Jake Westbrook
RHP Jason Johnson
Closer: Bob Wickman

The young Indians have another year under their belt and look to be slightly stronger than the Twins at this point. Halfner is a potential MVP candidate and Sabathia and Lee are two of the top lefties in the league.

3. Minnasotta Twins
Lineup:
LF Shannon Stewart
2B Louie Castillo
C Joe Mauer
DH Rondell White
CF Tori Hunter
1B Justin Morneau
3B Tony Bautista
RF Michael Cuddyer
SS Jason Bartlett

Rotation:
LHP Johan Santana
RHP Brad Radke
RHP Carlos Silva
RHP Kyle Lohse
LHP Francisco Liarano
Closer: Joe Nathan

A lot of the Twins success will lie on how well Liarano does in his rookie season. I just don't see them with enough offense to beat out the Indians or the Chi Sox. Justin Morneau needs to bust out and find his 30+ home run potential.

4. Detroit Tigers
Lineup:
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Placido Polanco
C Ivan Rodriguiz
RF Magglio Ordonez
SS Carlos Guillen
DH Dmitri Young
1B Chris Shelton
LF Craig Monroe
3B Brandon Inge

Rotation:
LHP Kenny Rodgers
RHP Jeremy Bonderman
LHP Mike Maroth
LHP Nate Robertson
RHP Justin Verlander
Closer: Todd Jones

The Tigers are definetly on the rise. Young Chris Shelton and a healthy Magglio Ordonez should provide the Tigers with some legitimate pop, but as always, they are going to need their young pitching to develop. Verlander was one of the top pitching prospects in the bigs last season.

5. Kansas City Royals
Lineup:
CF David Dejesus
2B Mark Grudzialanek
1B Mike Sweeney
RF Reggie Sanders
LF Emil Brown
SS Angel Berroa
DH Matt Stairs
3B Mark Teahen
C Joe Buck

Rotation:
RHP Scott Elarton
RHP Runleaveys Hernandez
RHP Zack Grienke
LHP Mark Redman
RHP Joe Mays
Closer: Mike McDougal

No way to sugar coat it, the Royals should rival the Rockies as worst teams in baseball this season.


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