Projected Division Standings
Minnesota Twins – 92-70
Chicago White Sox – 86-76
Cleveland Indians – 82-80
Kansas City Royals – 79-83
Detroit Tigers – 71-91
The division has not changed much from 2008. Like every year, the division is really up for grabs for every team except the Royals. Ultimately, the Twins should take it. They have the skills and veteran leadership with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Pitching is suspect, but should be enough in this division to come out on top. Left-handed pitcher Francisco Lirianois the team’s ace in my mind, but the team has good hopes for right -hander Scott Baker.
Don’t be surprised if the Twins start slow – Mauer should miss the first month or so of the season on the DL. He had surgery in December to remove a kidney obstruction and has been feeling soreness all spring.
The Tigers seem to be a lost cause. The team has not improved after a disappointing 2008 season, where newcomers Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis failed to make the impact the team hoped. Now, with Detroit marred in the worst economic slump in generations, the Tigers will even have trouble filling the seats. Record unemployment in Detroit (21%) and Michigan (12%) has led to a 44% decrease in season ticket sales this offseason.
I’ve got two words to describe how their season will go. Carl Pavano. Pavano, who was their most public acquisition this offseason, is pitching Pavano-like this spring. The oft-injured hurler has a 7.49 ERA this spring – allowing 14 runs in 17 innings pitched.
Fausto Caramana looks good on the mound this spring and might just be the catalyst necessary for a winning season. Kerry Wood is set to be the closer – it will be interesting to see how that goes.
Chicago White Sox
This team is hard to peg. Less then 4 years since their last World Series Championship, they could win the division as easily as they could finish with a losing record.
Wilson Betemit (remember him) is having a decent spring and should be the starting third baseman. With A-Rod out for at least the first 3 weeks, I wonder if the Yanks wish they didn’t trade him for Nick Swisher. Especially because Swish is going to start the season on the bench.
With players like Bartolo Colon and AJ Pierzynski, the team could be great. I think the wild card each year is good old Ozzie. If the manager can stay sane, the team might have a chance to unseat the Twins as division champs.
Kansas City Royals
Does anyone even care about this team anymore? If it wasn’t for Jane Heller’s book, I wouldn’t think this team had actual fans. Anyways, I wonder if the goal each year is simply don’t finish last in the AL.
Billy Butler and Alex Gordon are both hitting for power this spring, both over are batting over .300. Gordon can use this season to make a name for himself or begin fading into obscurity. Off-season acquisition Coco Crisp should make a difference on a team that had no strong hitters in the bottom of the line-up last season.
I have no idea who their pitchers are, so I won’t say much about them. But don’t expect much of this team. That way, should they do even better, we’ll all be happily surprised.