Pete’s Picks: AL Central
- Updated: March 19, 2008
1. Tigers : They might have arguably the best line-up in all of baseball 1-9, but their pitching, in my opinion, is suspect past the first three starters and especially their bullpen! As good as their hitting will/should be in ’08, their pitching might be the great neutralizer. Outside of Verlander, there are some concerns. Can Bonderman last a full season? Will D-Train find his former form and be effective once again? Can Kenny Rogers go one more year into his 40’s? Only time will tell. Look for new 3B Cabrera to be in the running for the AL MVP this year!
2. Indians : If it wasn’t for the Renteria and M. Cabrera/Willis deals, the Tribe would have a shot at this division, but the Tigers just have too much fire power! In my opinion, the Tribe has the better pitching staff of the two, they just have to manage the innings better for Sabathia & Carmona due to how tired they looked in the playoffs last year. Their bullpen, aside from their closer, whom I don’t trust in that role, is like night and day compared to the Tiger’s pen! Their line-up only has 2 question marks, but they’re at the corner OF slots which are typically your power spots!
3. White Sox : Last year’s poor hitting, in my opinion, was a fluke! To have that many bats with histories that prove my point, are reason to believe that the White Sox have no place to go but up in this weaker Central Division. Plus with the additions of Orlando Cabrera and Nick Swisher, you can see signs of improvement on the offense as precautions.
4. Twins : Losing the pitching trio of Santana, Garza & Silva will be sorely missed in 2008, but Liriano, if healthy, will make the transition a little more bearable. Just keep in mind that Liriano probably won’t be as good in ’08 as he is likely to be in 2009 after this type of injury. There was also the loss of Torii Hunter in CF also, but they still have Mauer (C), Morneau (1B), Cuddyer (RF) and Delmond Young (LF)! And a better supporting cast made up of Brendan Harris (2B), Mike Lamb (3B), Closer Joe Nathan and one of the best defensive SS in the game today in Adam Everett. But he can’t hit his weight…scratch that, he only weighs 178lbs so he beats that by 70 points on average, but he’s also in the AL now & that career BA was in the NL, so it might drop to a mere .228 this year as he makes the adjustment (see J.D. Drew in Boston last year).
5. Royals : Their strength comes from their top three starters in Gil Meche, Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke and their closer, Joakim Soria, is a talented young pitcher as well. The problem here lies in a thrown together bullpen, then again, most MLB bullpen with a few exceptions, have that thrown together feel to them. If they can just get from those three starters to Soria, then they have a chance to improve! On the offensive, their strength is in C John Buck, LF Mark Teahen & RF Jose Guillen with up and comers 1B/DH Billy Butler, SS Tony Pena, Jr. and 3B Alex Gordon. If those last three can live up to their potential, then the Royals might be more of a threat to the Twins and the Sox, but are a far cry from the Tigers and the Indians.