AL CENTRAL PREVIEW
The weather is really breaking here in Chicago. We will surpass 60 degrees tomorrow. So I’ve started taking care of things I normally do at this time of the year, things common to one and all.
I’m cleaning and shining up my golf clubs, taking my speedo to the dry cleaners, pointing my windshield wiper shooters left and right (everyone loves a springtime gag!) and I’m going to be filling out my NCAA bracket. And I need to start making some predictions about the upcoming season in baseball. By no means in depth, but some thoughts nonetheless.
I think most agree the [tag]AL Central[/tag] is the best division or perhaps toughest division to play in. With the Sox, Detroit, Cleveland and the [tag]Twins[/tag]have 4 teams capable of representing the [tag]American League[/tag] in the World Series. At least that’s the conventional wisdom.
Let’s start by writing off the [tag]Royals[/tag]. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be fun to watch. In Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, they have 2 of the most coveted prospects in the game.
On to the Twins. The Twins are gritty and gutty and I would never write them off completely. But on paper, I just don’t see them winning the division. I look at their rotation of Santana, Bonser, Silva, Garza and Perkins and don’t see it. The Twins will be tough. They can finish anywhere from 2-4. But not first.
The [tag]Indians[/tag] were supposed to contend last year but it didn’t happen. Please join me in anointing them the “Scariest Team in Baseball” for 2007. This team will mash and mash some more. If Sabathia can give them 30+ starts and Byrd can return to 2005 form–which I think he will–than I can totally see the Tribe winning the division. They will need to get the bullpen in order but they have plenty of arms. They’ve added solid vets like Dellucci, Nixon and Bert Hernandez. They have an ace in the making in Jeremy Sowers. They will contend.
How about the [tag]Tigers[/tag]? The Shef is a nice addition if he stays healthy. And if he does, he could be the difference maker on a team that needs to score more runs than last year. But I doubt they will get the same performances from Kenny Rogers or Nate Robertson and who knows what Mike Maroth will produce. But you also have to think that Verlander and Bondo will be even better. The key for the Tigers? Most likely health. Hard not to see them contending.
And finally the [tag]White Sox[/tag]. I won’t put it past the Sox to “rebound” from a 90-win season and come back and win the division. I think it’s safe to say that only if [tag]Buehrle[/tag] finds his form will they have a chance. They have a veteran club with postseason experience. I doubt Dye mashes like last year and they really need Thome and Contreras to stay healthy. There’s more ‘ifs’ than I would like to see. So on to the predictions:
- Cleveland Indians
- Chicago White Sox
- Detroit Tigers
- Minnesota Twins
- Kansas City Royals