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Friday, December 9th, 2016

AL CENTRAL PREVIEW

9

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:

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Minnesota Twins
  5. Kansas City Royals

[tags]MLB[/tags]

  • http://www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=106169 sappelhans

    I like the Indians to take the Central as well.

    I have a baseball message board and would love for you to contribute. Check it out at http://www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=106169 . It’s really easy to make an account, and we’ve already got some good topics started.

  • PV

    I’ve been thinking about Cleveland, too – they’re pretty stocked and a little under the radar of the other three, which I like. But then Cliff Lee went down, and I remembered about their bullpen.

    I’m more optimistic that Detroit’s pitching will perform close to last year, and Sheff is a perfect fit. Plus they’re well-managed, so I don’t expect too much post-good-year letdown. If I were picking, I think I would have to pick them.

    But I certainly would not be surprised if any of the other three won, and there’s a decent chance one will be the wildcard. Though you have to wonder if they’ll beat up on each other too much, opening the door for one AL EAST teams.

    Starting to get excited for the season…

  • http://courtjester.livejournal.com Mike O’Donnell

    I agree with your predictions, with the expection of the Tiger and Sox. I think the aforementioned “ifs” will be too much of a factor for the Sox to finish that high. I think Detroit will be 2 and take the WC. The Twins may be the shocker. They always find a way to win July on.

    It will be fun to watch the Indians. I think that Nixon will have a career year surrounded by so much talent. And Grady Sizemore makes me wish I were a woman.

    Did I just type that for real? Oh crap.

  • http://zonersports.com The Zoner

    Grady Sizemore is probably the best player the average fan hasn’t heard of. Their lineup is insane. I hate the Tigers. If Sheffield plays in more than 75 games I’ll be slightly surprised. If it’s more than 110 I’ll be very surprised.

  • PB

    Okay, here’s how the AL Central will shape up this year:

    1. Detroit
    2. Everybody else

    Sincerely,

    Jason Thompson

  • Your Mom

    Seriously? The Tigers AND Twins finishing behind the Indians? Does pitching have anything to do with winning these days?

  • http://zonersports.com The Zoner

    Yes seriously. Just like we all thought it would be Tigers and Cards in the World Series last year. Or not. I like the Indians pitching. Sowers is going to be a good one. 7-4, 3.57 with the big club in his rookie year and 23-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 42 minor league starts.

    I’ll take the Indians starting pitchers over the Twins.

  • http://www.triplebaseball.co.nr Jeffery

    I agree with the Indians here.There pitching is not as bad as eveyone says,in fatc I’d say it is good.Sabathia is one of the best in baseball,Westbrook is consistenly winning 14+ games,Lee will be back after missing 4 or 5 starts,Sowers is top notch and Byrd will improve.Their bullpen is a little shaky but it is a lot better then last year an will help them win the division.They are the greatest team you’ve never heard of.

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