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Monday, March 19, 2007

AL Central Preview

1st Place: Detroit Tigers
Lineup:
CF Curtis Granderson
SS Carlos Guillen
DH Gary Sheffield
RF Magglio Ordonez
C Ivan Rodriguez
1B Sean Casey
2B Placido Polanco
LF Craig Monroe
3B Brandon Inge

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

The Tigers have the best pitching staff in the division and their offense will be better than last years' with a healthy Gary Sheffield. Nate Robertson is one of the more underrated starters in the game and Mike Maroth could be a #3 on most staffs in the majors. Todd Jones will start the year as the closer, but I think it's only a matter of time before Joel Zumaya and his 100 mph fastball are manning the 9th inning for the Tigers. There only big weakness is their lack of speed on the bases. They aren't going to be able to keep Marcus Thames on the bench too long.

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

Rotation:
RHP Jon Garland
RHP Jose Contraras
LHP Mark Buehrle
RHP Javier Vazquez
RHP Gavin Floyd
Closer: Bobby Jenks

The White Sox need their starting rotation to step it up if they are going to win 90+ games for the 3rd straight year and make the playoffs. They have one of the best offenses in the AL which gives their starters some breathing room, but they don't have a clear cut ace and all of their starters are coming off average to below average seasons. After Bobby Jenks, their bullpen is still up in the air.

3rd: Cleveland Indians
Lineup:
CF Grady Sizemore
2B Josh Barfield
DH Travis Halfner
C Victor Martinez
1B Casey Blake
3B Andy Marte
LF David Delucci
RF Trot Nixon
SS Johnny Peralta

Rotation:
LHP CC Sabathia
LHP Jeremy Sowers
LHP Jake Westbrook
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Paul Byrd
Closer: Joe Borowski

The Indians should be much improved in 2007 and I think they should be in the AL Central race all year, but this division is too tough for them to finish any higher than 3rd. They have some young studs in their lineup like Grady Sizemore and Travis Halfner who should be MVP candidates. They still have some major question marks defensively and in their bullpen.

4th: Minnesota Twins
Lineup:
2B Luis Castillo

3B Nick Punto
C Joe Mauer

1B Justin Morneau
RF Michael Cuddyer

CF Tori Hunter
DH Jason Kubel

LF Rondell White

SS Jason Bartlet

Rotation:
LHP Johan Santana
RHP Matt Garza
RHP Boof Bonser
RHP Carlos Silvia
LHP Glen Perkins
Closer: Joe Nathan

The Twins have the best starting pitcher and the best closer in the game. They also have the 2006 AL MVP, but even with Santana, their starting rotation is not good enough to compete with the better teams in this division. It still wouldn't surprise me to see them within 5 or 6 games of a playoff spot at the end of the year. Their great bullpen could prevail and carry keep them in the race, but unless they find another Francisco Liriano or someone to shoulder the load with Santana, they won't win 90 games.

5th: Kansas City Royals
Lineup:
CF David DeJesus
2B Mark Grudzielanek

RF Mark Teahan
DH Mike Sweeney
3B Alex Gordon
LF Emil Brown
1b Ryan Shealy
C Jason LaRue
SS Angel Berroa

Rotation:
RHP Gil Meche
LHP Odalis Perez
RHP Luke Hudson
LHP Jorge De La Rosa
RHP Zack Grienke
Closer: Octavio Dotel

The Royals actually have a talented young lineup, Ryan Shealy and Alex Gordon should be future stars. However, their starting rotation will continue being a weakness. Gil Meche wasn't the answer, they over payed an average pitcher with the hope he can come in and help turn this staff around. Mistakes like that are what keeps KC at the bottom of the pack year after year.


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1 Comments:

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