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Saturday, March 19, 2011

GBB's AL Central Preview

Onto the AL Central, where only two teams really have a legit shot at competing on a larger scale. In my opinion, this is the weakest division in baseball this year.

1st Place - Minnesota Twins

CF Denard Span
2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
LF Delmon Young
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel/Jim Thome
3B Danny Valencia
SS Alexi Casilla

LHP Francisco Liriano
RHP Carl Pavano
LHP Brian Duensing
RHP Nick Blackburn
RHP Scott Baker
CL: Joe Nathan

This is one of the tougher divisions to pick in all of baseball due to the fact that 3 of the 5 teams are so darn evenly matched. The Twins have a better overall pitching staff than the Sox do, but I just don't think they have the offensive firepower to keep up with them. The Japanese import Nishioka looks very good, and Mauer and Morneau both should be healthy by opening day, and that always means the Twins offense is in good shape. Joe Nathan has looked strong this spring in his comeback, which will be a huge relief for the bullpen. I'm picking the Twinkies, but it also wouldn't surprise me to see this division come down to the final few games and I certainly wouldn't bet on any team in this bunch.
2nd Place - Chicago White Sox

LF Juan Pierre
2B Gordon Beckham
1B Paul Konerko
DH Adam Dunn
RF Carlos Quentin
CF Alex Rios
SS Alexei Ramirez
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Mark Teahan

LHP Mark Buehrle
RHP Edwin Jackson
LHP John Danks
RHP Gavin Floyd
RHP Jake Peavy
CL: Matt Thornton

Chicago is going to put up some runs, no doubt about that. Question is, will they be able to keep teams off the board themselves? Now, Jake Peavy is the wild card for this team in my opinion. If he gives them 25-30 starts, the ChiSox could very well leap-frog the Twins, they have that much offense. They have a very deep lineup that knows how to make the opposing pitcher work. They can also take you deep and steal bases. The problem for them right now is in the pen where they're a little thin, led by first-time closer Matt Thornton, who's been a career mid-reliever, albeit a good one.

3rd Place - Detroit Tigers

CF Austin Jackson
LF Ryan Raburn
DH Victor Martinez
1B Miguel Cabrera
RF Maglio Ordonez
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Brandon Inge
2B Scott Sizemore
C Alex Avila

RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Brad Penny
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Phil Coke
CL: Jose Valverde

The Tigers didn't do a darn thing to improve their team this winter and are returning the same bunch that disappointed in 2010. Miguel Cabrera is great, no doubt about that, but he's going through some personal issues and outside of him and Vic Martinez, that lineup is paper thin and will struggle to score runs. They have some nice young arms in Scherzer and Porcello and a strong ace with Verlander, but aren't deep enough to compete with the Twins or ChiSox.

4th Place - Cleveland Indians

CF Grady Sizemore
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Travis Hafner
1B Matt LaPorta
C Carlos Santana
LF Austin Kearns
3B Jason Nix
2B Orlando Cabrera

RHP Fausto Carmona
RHP Justin Masterson
RHP Carlos Carrasco
RHP Josh Tomlin
RHP Mitch Talbot
CL: Chris Perez

The Indians have a few nice young bats in the lineup, but their pitching staff is unproven. They don't have a particularly strong bullpen either, but young closer Chris Perez certainly sticks out in the group. Sizemore, LaPorta, Choo and Santana are all keepers, but everyone else in that lineup would be bench players on solid clubs.

5th Place - Kansas City Royals

2B Mike Aviles
CF Melky Cabrera
DH Billy Butler
LF Alex Gordon
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Kila Ka'aihue
SS Alcides Escobar
C Jason Kendal

LHP Jeff Francis
RHP Luke Hochever
LHP Bruce Chen
RHP Kyle Davies
RHP Vin Mazzaro
CL: Joakim Soria

It really seems like the Royals are getting worse each year. This offseason they lost one of their best hitters, possibly their best, in David DeJesus. Then they dealt away Zack Grienke, their franchise player and ace of their staff. It could pay off in the next few years, but right now, they look like a glorified AAA team. There are 2 players on the roster I listed above who I'd entertain taking and those two are Billy Butler and Joakim Soria. Young shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielder Alex Gordon could still turn out to be decent, but neither have shown it yet.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I forgot Dunn signed with Chicago. Why didn't the Giants go after him? He would have been great in Left Field.

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