MLB Picks 2009 – American League Previews
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
LAST YEAR: 89-74
The White Sox were in a dog-fight with the Minnesota Twins that went to a playoff showdown, and the White Sox prevailed. GM Kenny Williams said good-bye to Joe Crede, and Orlando Cabrera, and dealt Javier Vasquez, so the White Sox will try to do it again with a more youthful team. The staff will be good if the innings, and wins delivered by Danks, and Floyd hold form, or improve. They contributed 29 wins, and over 400 innings. Mark Buerhle will have to be Mark Buerhle, if he drops off, the White Sox are in trouble. The rest of the staff is a guessing game. Contreras is out til June or July with an achillies injury, and Bartolo Colon could be just about anything. The rest depends on youth. The middle of the line-up Dye,Thome, and Konerko could be boom or bust, but it better be boom, or the White Sox will be in trouble. Jenks is the first White Sox pitcher to record 30+ saves 3 years in a row, so the 9th inning is secure. This team can get to 90 wins if everything goes right, but if it doesn’t they could be out of it by the 4th of July.
ON THE RISE: TYLER FLOWERS (C) – Major-League power, suspect as a reciever.
LAST YEAR: 81-81
What a disappointment last year was for the Tribe. They had high hopes after a great ’07, but injuries to Carmona, and key bats, stalled any chance of a repeat performance. The lineup will once again be fortified by Hafner, and Martinez after an injury plagued ’08. The loss of Sathathia leaves a big void in the rotation. Can Cliff Lee duplicate his ’08 season or come close? Can Carmona regain his ’07 form, or was that a time deal. Can Carl Pavano stay healthy enough, and be effective in the rotation? Lots of questions, and few answers. The Tribe has the nucleas of potential, but need all of it to come to fruition to contend. If it doesn’t, a repeat of ’08 is likely.
ON THE RISE: DAVID HUFF (LHP) – Has a shot to be in the rotation this year.
LAST YEAR: 74-88
When the Tigers added Miguel Cabrara, and Edger Renteria last year, all signs were pointed to a Tiger offense that would produce 1,000 runs. The lineup never came close to living up to that expectation. The pitching was a bust. Dontrelle Willis was supposed to win 15+ games, and young studs, Bonderman, Robertson and Verlander were locks for big years. One of them was sure to win 20+ with the Tiger lineup, but combined they barely won 20, as the trio ended the season with 21 wins. Tigers ERA has gone from 3.84 in ’06, to 4.57 in ’07, to 4.90 last year. The Tigers are in serious trouble unless the pitching regroups and reverts to ’06 form, if not, no matter how many runs the lineup produces, it won’t be enough.
ON THE RISE: RICK PORCELLO (RHP) – Considered a potential ace, might be needed soon!
LAST YEAR: 75-87
The Royals 18-8 September allowed them to sneak out of the AL Central basement. Owner David Glass bumped the payroll upward to about $70 million, and the Royals 100 loss season days may be behind them, but can they contend? They used the added payroll to add Mike Jacobs, and Coco Crisp. Kyle Davies seemed to finally reach his potential with a 4-1 2.27 ERA September, and with Gil Meche, and Zach Grienke, the Royals now have 3 reliable starters at the top of the rotation. Add in free agent pickup Horacio Ramierez, and the Royals have more pitching than they have had in quite some time. Joakim Soria is a top notch closer with 42 saves in 45 tries. They also went out and got Kyle Farnsworth who may be better suited for KC, than he was in NY. This team could flirt with .500 or better if all goes well.
ON THE RISE: KILA KA’AIHUE (1B) – Big year after a long wait, could show up before the year is out.
LAST YEAR: 88-75
The Twins got to a playoff game, and lost to the White Sox, so their was no post-season. The Twins with limited payroll, have still won four AL Central Titles since 2002, and just missed their 5th last year. Despite the success, they have only won one playoffs series. The pitching staff is young, with the oldest at 27, but effective. If Liriano can make it all the way back after Tommy John surgery 2 years ago, and become an ace, the Twins will be back in the hunt in ’09. The pen is going to be the biggest question mark. They have the back end covered with Joe Nathan, but Pat neshek had Tommy John surgery and will be out. Lots of question marks down there, and it may cost them.
ON THE RISE: ANTHONY SWARZAK (RHP) – The Twins need help in the pen, might make the team this year.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. CHICAGO WHITE SOX
4. KANSAS CITY