Friday, February 10, 2006

Part 3: AL Central

Since it is Friday, I will try to get two parts in today. The AL Central could be one of, if not the hardest one to call. With tough competition and my lack of Central knowledge, the job doesn't get any easier. Take out the Royals, and I feel you have four teams that could fight for first.

White Sox: I for one did not predict the Sox to win last year. They lost the aging Thomas to the A's, and gains a somewhat decent, all be it inconsistent pitcher in Vasquez. Several "blue chips" are hitting the Sox radar. Bobby Jenks had a great year; some may say was a key cog in the championship bullpen. The bullpen is the weakest part of this team. If the starters (minus El Duque) can put another glamorous year together, it could be another Central title. Also, look for Brian Anderson (CF). He is young bat, great range, hits for average and power, just watch his K's. The Sox will make a good run at first. I will pick them to win again. Don't be surprised if this comes down to a tie-breaking game.

Twins: They added some pop with Rondell White, probably playing DH. Santana will once again be in prime form and compete for the Cy Young. I don't see a lot of departures in the off-season, which is a good thing. Watch out for Francisco Liriano. He was impressive in his limited exposure in 05, (33 K's in 23.2 innings). Don't forget about Nathan closing for them. I am going to say third for the Twins this year, with a slim shot at second. Don't forget, I said there will be a tie-breaker for first. They will be "dark horse" to unseed the Sox in this division.

Indians: I don't think the loss of Coco Crisp to the Red Sox will be that bad. They were unable to bring back Millwood, but they did add the once Orioles said ace and Tigers said ace Jason Johnson. Since neither of his "ace" duties ever panned out, I don't hold much hope for that changing. They do have a deep starting 5 in Byrd, Johnson, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Jake Westbrook. Maybe they won't fall apart in the last few games of the season like last year. Offensively, Andy Marte is an up and coming third baseman. Travis Heffner at 1b and the switching hitting catcher, Victor Martinez, should continue their strong careers. I am going to go with second place for the tribe.

Tigers: Out with Trammel and in with Leyland. Leyland has been a part of some decent clubs in his career, I am sure the main reason Detroit signed him as the new manager. They gain the camera tossing gambler, Kenny Rogers who always starts off strong, but appears to die off after the mid-summer classic. Todd Jones returns to the Tigers after a successful season as the Marlins closer. Since their rotation is not very strong, don’t be surprised to see Justin Verlander pitching in early May. I am going with a fourth place finish this year.

Royals: This paragraph might be a waste of my time. Runelvys Hernandez is full of talent, however could only muster an 8-14 record last year. With the additions of Grudzielanek and Mientkiewicz, they should get some more run support. Adding Elarton to the starting rotation should help. However, I don't see any of theses moves helping the Royals not finish in last place.

Final Standing
White Sox
Twins (tie)
Tigers (tie)

We are half way there...

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