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17 year old Cale's very opinionated view on everything sports.

Posts Tagged ‘AL Central

MLB Season Preview: #21 Detroit Tigers

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Overview: Detroit is a franchise that is struggling financially in the economic downturn of the country. This caused them to make many moves during the offseason that are more financially sound, meaning many young players. Last season, the Tigers had a mini-collapse at the end of last season and lost to the Twins in a one game playoff to be booted from the playoffs.

Offseason Moves: In one of the bigger deals of the offseason, the Tigers traded P Edwin Jackson and OF Curtis Granderson away in a three-team deal. In return, Detroit received Ps Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, Max Scherzer, and OF Austin Jackson. The Tigers also lost P Fernando Rodney to free agency, and replaced him with closer Jose Valverde. On the offensive side, Detroit’s only free agent acquisition was OF Johnny Damon.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1.  CF Austin Jackson (no stats in ’09)

2. 2B Scott Sizemore (no stats in ’09)

3. 1B Miguel Cabrera (.324, 34 HR, 103 RBI)

4. RF Magglio Ordonez (.310, 9 HR, 50 RBI)

5. 3B Brandon Inge (.230, 27 HR, 84 RBI)

6. DH Johnny Damon (.282, 24 HR, 82 RBI)

7. LF Carlos Guillen (.242, 11 HR, 41 RBI)

8. C Gerald Laird (.225, 4 HR, 33 RBI)

9. SS Adam Everett (.238, 3 HR, 44 RBI)

Backup C: Alex Avila (.279, 5 HR, 14 RBI)

Backup IF: Ramon Santiago (.267, 7 HR, 35 RBI)

Backup OF: Ryan Raburn (.291, 16 HR, 45 RBI)

Backup OF: Clete Thomas (.240, 7 HR, 39 RBI)

1. Justin Verlander (19-9, 3.45 ERA)

2. Rick Porcello (14-9, 3.96 ERA)

3. Max Scherzer (9-11, 4.12 ERA)

4. Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 8.71 ERA)

5. Dontrelle Willis (1-4, 7.49 ERA)

CP: Jose Valverde (4-2, 2.33 ERA, 25 SV)

SU: Joel Zumaya (3-3, 4.94 ERA)

SU: Ryan Perry (0-1, 3.79 ERA)

MR: Phil Coke (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

MR: Brad Thomas (no stats in ’09)

MR: Fu-Te Ni (0-0, 2.61 ERA)

LR: Eddie Bonine (1-1, 4.46 ERA)

Player to watch: CF Austin Jackson has been a top prospect in the Yankees’ organization for many years now. Finally traded as many of the Bombers’ prospects are, Jackson is getting a shot at batting leadoff in a Tigers’ uniform. Jackson is a five-tool player, and many are picking him to be the rookie of the year. With veteran OF Johnny Damon on the team to help tutor Jackson, this could be a big year for the rookie.

Prediction: 86-76, 1st in AL Central

The Tigers have some depth in the pitching staff, headed by ace Justin Verlander. Their offense will be suspect at times, but I expect Detroit to break through this season, and take the AL Central crown.

MLB Season Preview: #23 Chicago White Sox

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Overview: The White Sox were an under-achieving team last season. They had a load of power, and depth in their pitching staff. Yet, injuries were abundant on the south side of Chicago, and the Sox dwindled down the stretch.

Offseason Moves: The White Sox added an abundance of players during the offseason. To address the problems in the bullpen, the Sox brought in Ps Tony Pena and J.J. Putz. To improve on offense, Chicago brought in speedy OF Juan Pierre, OF Andruw Jones, and IF/OF Mark Teahen. IFs Omar Vizquel, Jayson Nix, and Mark Kotsay were brought in primarily for defensive purposes.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Juan Pierre (.308, 0 HR, 31 RBI)

2. SS Alexei Ramirez (.277, 15 HR, 68 RBI)

3. 3B Gordon Beckham (.270, 14 HR, 63 RBI)

4. 1B Paul Konerko (.277, 28 HR, 88 RBI)

5. LF Carlos Quentin (.236, 21 RBI, 56 RBI)

6. DH Mark Teahen (.271, 12 HR, 50 RBI)

7. RF Alex Rios (.247, 17 HR, 71 RBI)

8. C A.J. Pierzynski (.300, 13 HR, 49 RBI)

9. 2B Jayson Nix (.224, 12 HR, 34 RBI)

Backup C: Ramon Castro (.219, 7 HR, 25 RBI)

Backup IF: Omar Vizquel (.266, 1 HR, 14 RBI)

Backup OF: Andruw Jones (.214, 17 HR, 43 RBI)

1. Mark Buehrle (13-10, 3.84 ERA)

2. Jake Peavy (9-6, 3.45 ERA)

3. John Danks (13-11, 3.77 ERA)

4. Gavin Floyd (11-11, 4.06 ERA)

5. Freddy Garcia (3-4, 4.34 ERA)

CP: Bobby Jenks (3-4, 3.71 ERA, 29 SV)

SU: Matt Thornton (6-3, 2.74 ERA)

SU: J.J. Putz (1-4, 5.22 ERA)

MR: Scott Linebrink (3-7, 4.66 ERA)

MR: Tony Pena (6-5, 3.99 ERA)

MR: Randy Williams (0-1, 4.58 ERA)

MR: Greg Aquino (1-2, 4.50 ERA)

LR: Dan Hudson (1-1, 3.38 ERA)

Player to watch: The key to the Sox’s success lies in the right arm of P Jake Peavy. Injured for most of last season, Peavy didn’t make much of an impact after being traded from San Diego. However, Peavy is a former ace, and was often in the NL Cy Young Award talks. A switch to the American League should inflate his numbers a bit, although, he still has the tools to be a good pitcher. If Peavy performs like he is capable of doing, the White Sox have a real shot at taking the AL Central.

Prediction: 83-79, 2nd in AL Central

I think that the White Sox are going to be one of this year’s surprise teams, and a team that many will cheer for. They are a group of veterans that no one is really expecting much out of. However, they play in a weak division, and may have just the right mix of players to succeed. I’m thinking with my head picking them to only finish 2nd in the division because too many things need to happen in Chicago’s favor for them to make the playoffs.

MLB Season Preview: #26 Cleveland Indians

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Overview: Two seasons ago, the Indians had the likes of players like P C.C. Sabathia, C Victor Martinez, and P Cliff Lee. Now that those players (and many others) have been traded, the Indians are clearly in a rebuilding mode. They will center the franchise around CF Grady Sizemore. However, Sizemore was injured most of last year, and Cleveland was terrible. Expect more of the same this year from the Tribe.

Offseason Moves: The Indians made very few significant moves this offseason. Their biggest acquisition was 1B Russell Branyan, who is coming off a career year in Seattle. Cleveland also brought in veterans, such as OF Austin Kearns, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, C Mike Redmond, and P Saul Rivera. None of these players will have a great impact, and will serve as mentors and stop-gap players waiting for Cleveland’s young talent to progress through the minor leagues.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. LF Michael Brantley (.313, 0 HR, 11 RBI)

2. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.308, 6 HR, 68 RBI)

3. CF Grady Sizemore (.248, 18 HR, 64 RBI)

4. 1B Russell Branyan (.251, 31 HR, 76 RBI)

5. RF Shin-Soo Choo (.300, 20 HR, 86 RBI)

6. SS Jhonny Peralta (.254, 11 HR, 83 RBI)

7. DH Travis Hafner (.272, 16 HR, 49 RBI) —- Will platoon with OF Matt LaPorta

8. 3B Andy Marte (.232, 6 HR, 25 RBI)

9. C Lou Marson (.246, 0 HR, 4 RBI)

Backup C: Mike Redmond (.237, 0 HR, 7 RBI)

Backup IF: Luis Valbuena (.250, 10 HR, 31 RBI)

Backup OF: Matt LaPorta (.254, 7 HR, 21 RBI)

Backup OF: Austin Kearns (.195, 3 HR, 17 RBI)

1. Jake Westbrook (No Stats in ’09)

2. Aaron Laffey (7-9, 4.44 ERA)

3. Justin Masterson (4-10, 4.52 ERA)

4. Fausto Carmona (5-12, 6.32 ERA)

5. David Huff (11-8, 5.61 ERA)

CP: Kerry Wood (3-3, 4.25 ERA, 20 SV)

SU: Rafael Perez (4-3, 7.31 ERA)

SU: Chris Perez (1-2, 4.26 ERA)

MR: Joe Smith (0-0, 3.44 ERA)

MR: Saul Rivera (1-3, 6.10 ERA)

LR: Jensen Lewis (2-4, 4.61 ERA)

LR: Jamey Wright (3-5, 4.33 ERA)

Player to watch: OF Matt LaPorta was the center-piece of the C.C. Sabathia trade a couple of years ago. After a decent rookie campaign, LaPorta finds himself in a log-jam for a spot in the Indians’ outfield, and possibly splitting time at DH with Travis Hafner. If LaPorta lives up to his ability and forces his way into the lineup, it will be interesting where the Indians put him in the field. LaPorta has the potential to be a 30 HR, 100 RBI hitter, and be the right-handed power bat in the Tribe’s lineup for years to come.

Prediction: 60 – 102, 5th in AL Central

The Indians will be the 2nd worst team in MLB this season. They simply have no pitching, and a lineup that will be suspect at times. You need pitching to survive in the American League, and Cleveland doesn’t have it. Not to mention that every other team in the division has good if not great pitching, which will help shut down the Tribe’s offense.

MLB Season Preview: #27 Kansas City Royals

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Overview: Kansas City finished another dismal season going 64-92, with no true light at the end of the tunnel in sight. However, the team had some bright spots, such as Cy Young Award winner P Zach Greinke and over-achieving IF Alberto Callaspo. Besides that, the Royals are in the process of still working young talent into the big leagues.

Offseason Moves: The Royals made very few moves during the offseason, and almost all of them seemed to be minor. Kansas City traded OF Mark Teahen for IFs Chris Getz and Josh Fields. This trade prompted the signings of OFs Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik. The Royals also added C Jason Kendall, as a veteran presence on the team.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. LF Scott Podsednik (.304, 7 HR, 48 RBI)

2. CF David DeJesus (.281, 13 HR, 71 RBI)

3. 1B Billy Butler (.301, 21 HR, 93 RBI)

4. RF Rick Ankiel (.231, 11 HR, 38 RBI)

5. DH Jose Guillen (.242, 9 HR, 40 RBI)

6. 2B Alberto Callaspo (.300, 11 HR, 73 RBI)

7. 3B Alex Gordon (.232, 6 HR, 22 RBI)

8. C Jason Kendall (.241, 2 HR, 43 RBI)

9. SS Mike Aviles (.183, 1 HR, 8 RBI)

Backup C: Brayan Pena (.273, 6 HR, 18 RBI)

Backup IF: Josh Fields ( .222, 7 HR, 30 RBI)

Backup IF: Chris Getz (.261, 2 HR, 31 RBI)

Backup OF: Mitch Maier (.243, 3 HR, 31 RBI)

1. Zach Greinke (16-8, 2.16 ERA)

2. Gil Meche (6-10, 5.09 ERA)

3. Brian Bannister (7-12, 4.73 ERA)

4. Luke Hochevar (7-13, 6.55 ERA)

5. Kyle Davies (8-9, 5.27 ERA)

CP: Joakim Soria (3-2, 2.21 ERA, 30 SV)

SU: Kyle Farnsworth (1-5, 4.58 ERA)

SU: Carlos Rosa (0-0, 3.18 ERA)

MR: Juan Cruz (3-4, 5.72 ERA)

MR: Ramon Colon (2-3, 4.83 ERA)

LR: Robinson Tejada (4-2, 3.54 ERA)

LR: Jorge Campillo (1-0, 4.15 ERA)

Player to watch: The Royals’ season depends on the bat of DH Jose Guillen. It is assumed that OF Rick Ankiel will recover from the shoulder injury that plagued him much of last season, and will return to form. However, without Guillen, the Royals’ lineup is a little lacking. If he can provide a .280 batting average with 15 HR, and about 80 RBI, Kansas City may have a chance to compete in the dismal AL Central.

Prediction: 70 – 90, 4th in AL Central

Yes, the AL Central is a terrible division. However, the Twins are always competing for the division. The White Sox have too much pitching depth to not be able to at least compete. Detroit is a wild card, for it depends on how well many of their young players perform, however, I think they will do well. Kansas City can beat out the terrible Indians. If the Royals’ rotation received the addition of a #2 starter, the team could be a contender for the AL Central. As of now, their pitching will just get eaten alive.

MLB Season Preview: #28 Baltimore Orioles

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Overview: Although Baltimore finished in the cellar of the AL East again, they have made many strides to improve. Namely, much of their young talent is beginning to arrive, which gives O’s fans renewed hope for the playoffs in a treacherous division.

Offseason Moves: The Orioles made some key acquisitions this offseason, mostly adding veterans to mentor their young players, and provide a good mix of talent. Baltimore improved their bullpen by signing closer Mike Gonzalez to a three-year deal, while also acquiring reliever Cla Meredith. The O’s also added an ace to head their young rotation by trading for P Kevin Millwood. On offense, the Orioles brought in 3B Garrett Atkins for a stabilizing right-handed power bat in the middle of the lineup. Baltimore also brought back SS Miguel Tejada, who had played for the Orioles only two years before. These moves have made the team significantly better than it was last season.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Adam Jones (.277, 19 HR, 70 RBI)

2. 2B Brian Roberts (.283, 16 HR, 79 RBI)

3. 3B Miguel Tejada (.313, 14 HR, 86 RBI)

4. RF Nick Markakis (.293, 18 HR, 101 RBI)

5. 1B Garrett Atkins (.226, 9 HR, 48 RBI)

6. C Matt Wieters (.288, 9 HR, 43 RBI)

7. LF Nolan Reimold (.279, 15 HR, 45 RBI)

8. DH Luke Scott (.258, 25 HR, 77 RBI) —- Will platoon with IF Ty Wigginton

9. SS Cesar Izturis (.256, 2 HR, 30 RBI)

Backup C: Chad Moeller (.258, 2 HR, 10 RBI)

Backup IF: Ty Wigginton (.273, 11 HR, 41 RBI)

Backup OF: Felix Pie (.266, 9 HR, 29 RBI)

1. Kevin Millwood (13-10, 3.67 ERA)

2. Jeremy Guthrie (10-17, 5.04 ERA)

3. Brad Bergensen (7-5, 3.43 ERA)

4. Brian Matusz (5-2, 4.63 ERA)

5. Chris Tillman (2-5, 5.40 ERA)

CP: Mike Gonzalez (5-4, 2.42 ERA, 10 SV)

SU: Jim Johnson (4-6, 4.11 ERA)

SU: Will Ohman (1-0, 5.84 ERA)

MR: Dennis Sarfate (0-1, 5.09 ERA)

MR: Kam Mickolio (0-2, 2.63 ERA)

MR: Cla Meredith (4-2, 3.99 ERA)

LR: Mark Hendrickson (6-5, 4.37 ERA)

LR: Koji Uehara (2-4, 4.05 ERA)

Player to watch: If the young players already on the roster continue to progress, the Orioles could make a real run this season. However, I believe the key to this team will be the production of 1B Garrett Atkins. After a mediocre ’09 campaign, Baltimore gave Atkins a chance to return to form, where he averaged 25 HR and 100 RBI for three consecutive years in Colorado. If Atkins can drive in 100 runs, look for the Orioles to hang around in the divisional race deep into the summer.

Prediction: 75 – 87, 4th in AL East

I truly believe that the Orioles could win the AL Central, or get a wild card spot if they were in the NL or the AL Central. Unfortunately, they’re not. They are in the AL East, which is currently the best division in baseball. The Orioles are making strides, and some of their young pitchers, such as P David Hernandez, are on the way to the majors. A couple of key additions to improve the bullpen, and progression of their top prospect starters, would land Baltimore in first place of the division in the coming years. Frankly, I believe that as soon as next season, the Orioles can win the AL East. However, this will be a season of learning, as the team should compete for much of the year.

The Most Dangerous Game

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While the Yankees take the last day of the season off today, they will surely be watching the outcome of the AL Central battle between the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers. Whoever wins the Central will play the Yankees in the ALDS. Right now, if I were a Yankees player, I would be begging to play the Tigers. Here’s why:

The Tigers have been in a funk the whole month of September: Beginning on September 8th, the Tigers lost 5 straight games. The rest of the way, Detroit has gone 9-11, which has enabled them to squander a seven game lead to the Twins. Now tied on the last day of the season, the Tigers have to use their ace, Justin Verlander, in a must win game today. This means that Verlander most likely will not be the Game 1 starter in the ALDS against the Yankees, if Detroit were to make it.

Minnesota is a small market team, with small market fans, and small market players: A person would think that because a team is all-small market, that would make them weak. Quite honestly, I believe that small market teams are the most dangerous. Unlike the Yankees’ multi-billion dollar operation, the Twins current payroll is right around 72 million dollars. The Twins’ roster boasts names such as Nick Punto, Delmon Young, and Michael Cuddyer. My guess is that less than 3 of any 10 people in America have heard those names. On the other hand, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera have been household names for years. Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the Twins are located, has about 3.5 million residents. New York has over 10 million residents, not to mention fans all across the world. No one would expect the Twins to beat the mighty Yankees, and usually that is a driving force of motivation for a team. The Twins have absolutely nothing to lose, and are really hot right now.

Joe NathanJoe Nathan: Possibly the most underrated closer in the game, Joe Nathan has 47 saves this season. He has struck out 87 in 67 innings, and has an ERA of 2.15. When it comes to the playoffs, you need a closer to shut the door. Minnesota has that, and possibly the most consistent pitcher in all of baseball. Nathan has had no less than 36 saves since 2005, and has never had an ERA above 2.70 as a reliever. Don’t expect the Yankees to intimidate him.

The Twins are the hottest team in baseball, and would be a nightmare for any team to face right now. This is very similar to the Colorado Rockies run in ’07, and with the Yankees’ recent history of postseason struggles, the Twins could definitely win the ALDS.