Spring Training is right around the corner, with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp in about one week. There are still some free agents on the market to snag, along with some bargains, and some teams will give some of the remaining free agents a chance/contract, and others won't.
Lets look at the offseason thus far, along with team by team analysis, and also break down the teams and divisions. Along with the winners and losers of this year's offseason, and if the teams have gotten better or worse.
This has been a crazy offseason. This is article 2 of 6, and I will now break down the AL Central.
This is one of the hardest divisions to evaluate other than the NL West, because all three teams: Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit will be about as good as each other and any one of the three teams could win the division. It will be very close and come down to the very end of the season to determine who will make the playoffs.
American Central predicted standings:
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Detroit Tigers
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Cleveland Indians
This is going to be a pretty close and interesting division to watch and will be between the White Sox, Twins, and Tigers, with it coming right down to the wire at the end of the season.
The White Sox have the slightest edge over the Twins and Tigers, but look out for the Twins and the Tigers.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox didn't reel in any huge impact players or type A players this offseason, but they did reel in some smaller type players who can make a huge impact on the team and be key players.
The White Sox got better this offseason and should be significantly better than they were last season. Chicago are the offseason winners.
The White Sox had a down year last year, but this offseason they had a set plan. That plan was to compete again this season and win the AL Central division and make a run in the playoffs. By doing that, they had to make some moves.
Injuries also hurt the White Sox last season, but winning the division will not be easy because the Twins and Tigers are pretty decent teams as well. Chicago didn't have a lot of huge holes to fill this offseason, but had some smaller holes to take care of and the White Sox did a good job improving in these areas, and also didn't overspend.
The key for the Sox to win the division is for them to be healthy and their pitching. They have the best pitching in the AL Central division.
- re-signed C Ramon Casto,
- acquired OF Alejandro De Aza from Florida,
- signed OF/DH Andruw Jones,
- re-signed OF/DH/1B Mark Kotsay,
- acquired OF Juan Pierre from Los Angeles for a minor leaguer,
- signed P J.J. Putz,
- signed P Freddy Dolsi,
- signed SS/INF Omar Vizquel,
- acquired INF/OF Mark Teahen from Kansas City for 3B Josh Fields and 2B Chris Getz.
- RF/DH Jermaine Dye
- 2B Chris Getz (Royals)
- 3B Josh Fields (Royals)
- OF Scott Posednik (Royals)
- OF DeWayne Wise (Reds)
- P Octavio Dotel (Pirates)
- P Bartolo Colon
- P Mike McDougal.
The only significant loss that might hurt the Sox is Jermaine Dye mostly because of his power, but the Sox filled his loss with other multiple needs. Getz and Fields never played to their potential, so Chicago traded them to Kansas City to someone who has, Mark Teahen.
With Chicago having ace P Jake Peavy healthy and for an entire season, he will help the team substantially and make the pitching so much stronger and better than last year.
Having a healthy Freddy Garcia, Alex Rios, and Carlos Quentin for an entire season will also help substantially. Having Garcia for an entire season will benefit both him and the Sox, the same goes for Alex Rios. Peavy and Buehrle is a pretty good 1-2 in baseball.
Having Alex Rios for a full season and the next couple of years, who by the way the Sox didn't have to give up anything for, will bring much needed speed, defense, and offense to the lineup.
Peavy's health is very vital to this team's success. The Sox got really good leadoff hitters and one of the best in the game today, Juan Pierre from Los Angeles. With Pierre they also added one of the fastest guys in baseball, and one of the best defensive outfielders.
We all know that Pierre has no power at all (13 career home runs), but he is one of those players in baseball who can do everything else. With the absence in their lineup left by Dye and Thome, the Sox replaced them with Teahen and Jones, which were pretty good replacements but Teahen doesn't have much power and Jones isn't who he used to be, but they are cheaper and younger.
Adding Vizquel, strengthens the bench and veteran leadership, and by adding P Putz, who is a high reward low risk player, will help their bullpen substantially, only if he can stay healthy though.
The Sox are probably done this offseason making moves, and I don't see them making any other moves. This is what Chicago's staring lineup and pitching SHOULD be:
1. Juan Pierre CF 1. Jake Peavy
2. Gordon Beckham 2B 2. Mark Buehrle
3. Alex Rios RF 3. John Danks
4. Paul Konerko 1B 4. Gavin Floyd
5. Carlos Quentin LF 5. Freddy Garcia
6. Andruw Jones/Kotsay DH closer: Bobby Jenks
7. Alexei Ramirez SS bullpen: Linebrink, Thornton, Putz, Pena
8. Mark Teahen 3B
9. A.J. Pierzynski C
bench: Castro, Flowers, De Aza, Vizquel, Lillibridge, Nix.
the Twins improved some this offseason, however, they didn't need to do to much because they showed that they were good last year. The Twins did some solid significant moves this offseason, but not enough to match Chicago's offseason success.
Minnesota are offseason losers.
Minnesota should still be good this year, and will be about as good as they were last year. The reason why the Twins are offseason losers is because they didn't make good moves, and didn't make enough moves to compete with Chicago.
The Twins have a lot to look forward to and to be happy about, especially this upcoming year and the next couple of years because they have a brand new stadium, as well as two stars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.
The bottom line is that the Twins must re-sign Joe Mauer to a huge contract extension and give him one that he deserves, and also give some more years to Justin Morneau.
- signed P Clay Condrey
- re-signed P Carl Pavano
- acquired SS J.J. Hardy from Milwaukee for OF Carlos Gomez
- signed DH Jim Thome
- signed 2B Orlando Hudson.
- C Mike Redmond (Cleveland)
- 3B Joe Crede, OF Carlos Gonzalez (Milwaukee)
- P Luis Ayala (Dodgers)
- P Boof Bonser (Boston)
- P Phillip Humber (Royals)
- Orlando Cabrera (Reds).
I think that trading for Hardy was a really good move by the Twins, but I think they should have traded other talent away instead of Carlos Gonzalez. I know he had a terrible offensive career so far, but he is a good leadoff hitter with a very good glove, and is one of the fastest guys in baseball.
Lets hope that the Hardy trade was worth it and that he can have a strong offensive year at the plate and hit like he did a couple years ago back with the Brewers. Hardy is a career .262 hitter, but has 75 career bombs, and is really young, only 27 years old.
Signing Condrey makes the bullpen a lot stronger. Re-signing Pavano and having him for an entire season will help the team and rotation. Twins fans must hope that Liriano can be dominate again, also have him and Pavano stay healthy all year.
Signing Thome was a great pickup because it strengthens their bench and gives them some power to their lineup along with veteran leadership. T
he best move by the Twins all season was signing stud all-star gold glove winner 2B Orlando Hudson. He is the perfect fit for the Twins because he is perfect for their number two hole to hit, and also brings speed, defense, and offense to their lineup. He is a career .282 hitter and has a little bit of pop in his bat, but most importantly O-Dog makes the defense very solid.
The Twins have a very potent 1-2-3-4 lineup.
However, Minnesota still has some moves to make this offseason. They could use a third baseman, or at least a better one. They could also use another outfielder and a pitcher or two, one for the rotation, and one for the bullpen.
They could possibly make another move or two before the season starts, but they already have a payroll $31 million higher than they did last year.
The offense is potent with having Hudson, Mauer, and Morneau hitting back-to-back-to-back. The defense is very solid, but the starting pitching is still pretty weak. If all the pitchers can stay healthy all season, then the Twins pitching should be just okay, and could then possibly compete with the Sox and Tigers for the AL Central title.
The Twins didn't really lose any huge free agents other than Cabrera, but they soon replaced him with Hardy and Hudson. Minnesota still should have signed Cabrera to play short and then slotted Hardy over to play third.
This is what the Twins starting lineup and pitching SHOULD be:
1. Denard Span CF 1. Francisco Liriano
2. Orlando Hudson 2B 2. Carl Pavano
3. Joe Mauer C 3. Scott Baker
4. Justin Morneau 1B 4. Nick Blackburn
5. Michael Cuddyer RF 5. Brian Duensing/Jose Mijares
6. Jason Kubel/Jim Thome DH closer: Joe Nathan
7. J.J. Hardy SS bullpen: Condrey, Crain, Guerrier, Perkins, Rauch, Slowey
8. Delmon Young LF
9. Brendan Harris/Nick Punto 3B
bench: Castillo, Morales, Ramo, Tolbert.
Detroit will be about the same as they were last year, maybe even a little worse. The Tigers made a lot of moves this season, but their moves didn't put them on top of the division or in front of the Sox or Twins.
The Tigers are offseason losers.
The Tigers are very interesting this offseason, they said that they wanted to trade away talent for good young prospects to shed money, but they clearly did shed money because they ended up still spending quite a bit of money this offseason.
The Tigers did however, get a lot of stud prospects this offseason that will definitely help the Tigers future. All the moves will probably not put the Tigers on top of the division.
The Tigers lost more talent than they did acquire, however they did get really good stud prospects.
- re-signed SS Adam Everett
- acquired P Phil Coke
- OF Austin Jackson
- P Max Scherzer
- P Daniel Schlereth in part of three team trade with Yankees and Diamondbacks
- sign P Jose Valverde.
- P Edwin Jackson (Arizona)
- OF Curtis Granderson (Yankees)
- C Matt Treanor
- 1B/DH Aubrey Huff (Giants)
- 2B Placido Polanco (Phillies)
- OF Josh Johnson (Royals)
- OF/DH Marcus Thames (Yankees)
- P Jarrod Washburn
- P Brandon Lyon (Astros)
- P Fernando Rodney (Angels).
Locking up stud ace and face of the Tigers franchise Justin Verlander with an extension was very smart. But trading Jackson and Granderson away was very stupid, yeah they got young studs in return, but its really going to hurt the Tigers in the long run.
Jackson was really starting to develop and was an all-star last year, and Granderson was great for the franchise. Jackson and Granderson are both young, and I would have preferred to hang onto them instead of trade them away for other young talent.
Jackson leaves a huge hole in the rotation and Granderson leaves a hole in the outfield and leadoff spot in the lineup.
Lyon and Rodney will make the bullpen a lot weaker and leaves two holes in the bullpen. And the loss of Polanco really leaves a spot to be filled in the lineup and infield, and Sizemore is not the answer at second.
The Tigers should have re-signed Polanco and hung onto Jackson and Granderson. The Tigers also missed out on signing guys to replace some holes like Orlando Hudson who would have been the perfect fit for them, but he instead went to their rivals, Minnesota.
The defense, pitching, and offense is just average for Detroit. Having Verlander and Miguel Cabrera on the team gives the team some very good young and raw talent, which should help some and those two will carry the whole team.
Signing Valverde however, makes the bullpen and closer job very secure. The Tigers still need to make more moves, but by now it's to late for them to improve a whole lot because its late in the offseason and many free agents are off the market, but some are still available, but I don't see the Tigers making any other moves.
The Tigers can use help in the bullpen, at second base, and could use another outfielder. The Tigers are however, linked to Johnny Damon right now and might sign him and that would be a great pickup, but nothing has happened on that front because he has many other teams after him.
Detroit does have some good talent like: Verlander, Cabrera, Valverde, Guillen, Ordonez, Inge, and Porcello, but the team environment isn't as good and spread out like the Sox and Twins.
Lets also hope that Dontrelle Willis can pitch again like he used to in Florida and can stay healthy. He will be very important this year for Detroit. The same goes for Joel Zumaya.
This is what the Tigers' lineup and rotation SHOULD look like:
1. Austin Jackson CF 1. Justin Verlander
2. Carlos Guillen LF 2. Rick Porcello
3. Brandon Inge 3B 3. Jeremy Bonderman
4. Miguel Cabrera 1B 4. Dontrelle Willis
5. Magglio Ordonez RF 5. Nate Robertson/Armando Gallarado
6. Ryan Raburn DH closer: Jose Valverde
7. Adam Everett SS bullpen: Scherzer, Schlereth, Coke, Minor, Seay, Zumaya.
8. Scott Sizemore 2B
9. Gerald Laird C
bench: Avila, Kelly, Santiago, Ramirez, Thomas.
Kansas City will be about the same as last season, maybe a little better. Another disappointing season in Kansas for the Royals and Royal fans. It doesn't help having Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit who are all pretty good in the division. It also doesn't help that KC doesn't have much money.
KC are offseason losers.
Kansas City doesn't have a whole bunch of money, but I'm going to give the Royals credit for trying to improve. They tried improving last year and made a lot of moves, but things just didn't go their way and it never seems to go good for Kansas City.
Don't worry Kansas City, your time will come, just keep it up and don't give up.
They are offseason losers for the same reason the Twins and Tigers are, improved a little but didn't reel in enough guys or good enough guys to compete. The Royals have been making some progress over the course of the last couple of seasons.
- signed OF Brian Anderson
- signed OF Scott Posednik
- signed OF Rick Ankiel
- signed P Noel Argueless
- acquired 3B Josh Fields
- 2B Chris Getz from Chicago for INF/OF Mark Tehean
- signed C Jason Kendall.
- OF Coco Crisp (A's)
- C John Buck (Jays)
- Miguel Olivo (Rockies)
- 1B Mike Jacobs (Mets)
- P Tony Pena Jr. (Giants)
- INF/OF Mark Teahen
- P Ron Mahay
- P Doug Waechter
- P Horacio Ramirez (Giants)
- and P Jon Bale.
I like the Royals and feel bad for them, they try to compete and have built a solid team, it's just nothing ever goes their way.
The Royals lost about the same amount of talent as the amount of talent that was reeled in. Their additions aren't much but it will help the defense and power numbers of the offense, and Posednik brings a great leadoff hitter to the club with good speed.
The Royals have some real studs on their team in Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria. The offense is very weak, but the defense is pretty good and the pitching is about average, mostly because of Greinke and Meche.
If some of the young guys step up and start playing to their potential, players like Gordon, Bannister, Hochevar, Aviles, Betancourt, Getz, and Fields. The Royals do have some speed though however and a good leadoff hitter and one of the fastest guys in the game.
There are a lot of holes, still left to fill which include: pitching help both starting and bullpen. Some more offense, like home run power and run producing guys.
The Royals can look forward to having some really young talented players, and should be able to compete in the next couple of years if they can save money and spend it in the offseason, kind of like the Seattle Mariners have done this year.
Mike Aviles is a stud, but he needs to stay healthy this year.
This is what the starting lineup and rotation SHOULD be:
1. Scott Posednik LF 1. Zack Greinke
2. Alberto Callaspo 2B 2. Gil Meche
3. Mike Aviles SS 3. Brian Bannister
4. Jose Guillen DH 4. Kyle Davies
5. Billy Butler 1B 5. Luke Hochevar
6. Rick Ankiel CF closer: Joakim Soria
bullpen: Arguelles, Colon, Cruz, Farnsworth, Tejada. 7.David DeJesus RF
8. Alex Gordon 3B
9. Jason Kendall C
bench: Fields, Getz, Anderson, Betancourt, Ka'aihue, Maier, Bloomquiest.
The Indians couldn't really be any worse than they were last year, as they were one of the worst teams in all of baseball. It looks like they will be at least the same, maybe even worse this offseason. Cleveland didn't make any moves at all except for some minor league deals and minor deals here and there.
Cleveland are some of the biggest offseason losers.
GM Shapiro won't spend any money, and so last season he traded basically the entire team away and hoping to rebuild. I wouldn't really call it rebuilding, Shapiro is completely starting over from the bottom down. Expect for Cleveland to not be close to competing and being one of the worst teams in all of baseball for at least the next couple of season.
Trading away all their talent except a couple of players, did absolutely nothing and made them an embarrassment baseball franchise. If Shapiro would have hung on to his guys over the the last two to three years, Cleveland would actually be one of the best teams in the AL.
I have no sympathy for Cleveland because they could have been super good and one of the best teams, but they decided to trade everyone away.
Cleveland has money and still could have had a team that consisted of: Sabathia, Lee, Crisp, Martinez, Garko, Blake, Byrd, Betancourt, Gutierrez, DeRosa, and Shoppach. Cleveland could have been stacked but they aren't.
- signed C Mike Redmond
- signed OF Austin Kearns
- signed 1B/OF Shelly Duncan.
- 2B Josh Barfield
- INF Jamey Carroll (A's).
The Indians have a couple of young studs on their team but it doesn't matter. The best player on their team is CF Grady Sizemore. Other good young players are 3B/SS Jhonny Peralta, 2B/SS Asdrubal Cabrera, P Jake Westbrook, RF Shin-Shoo Choo, P Fausto Carmona, P Kerry Wood, and 1B/DH Travis Hafner.
Half of these players either haven't played up to their potential or have been injured for the last couple of seasons. If these players can stay healthy and play to their full potential, then Cleveland would be much better off.
The Cleveland Indians obviously made no progress on getting better this season or anytime soon and I don't see them making any more moves at all this offseason.
The only thing Cleveland can look forward to is having some good young talent like: Carlos Santana, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Trevor Crowe, Matt LaPorta, Andy Marte, Justin Masterson, Brantley, Perez.
This is what the Cleveland's starting lineup and rotation SHOULD be:
1. Grady Sizemore CF 1. Fausto Carmona
2. Asdrubal Cabrera 2B 2. Jake Westbrook
3. Jhonny Peralta SS 3. Aaron Laffey
4. Travis Hafner DH 4. Jeremy Sowers
5. Shin-Soo Choo RF 5. Justin Masterson
6. Andy Marte 3B closer: Kerry Wood
7. Matt LaPorta 1B bullpen: Perez, Perez, Smith, Carrasco, Huff, Lewis.
8. Trevor Crowe LF
9. Mike Redmond C
bench: Kearns, Duncan, Marson, Brantley, Bixler, McDonald, Gimenez, Santana, Valbuena.