PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
5. KANSAS CITY
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
MANAGER: OZZIE GUILLEN
LAST YEAR: 79-83
BIGGEST ADD: JJ PUTZ RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: JERMAINE DYE OF
TOP PROSPECT: SERGIO SANTOS RHP
The White Sox success will hinge largely on the performance of Jake Peavy. Peavy was injured last year, but he is a potential 20+ win pitcher on a top team, and it also deepens a staff that already includes Buehrle, Floyd and Danks. The White Sox had above-average pitching a year ago, and it only stands to get better with a healthy Peavy. Juan Pierre at the top of the lineup will be huge as well, and Gordon Beckham is solid in the two hole. If JJ Putz is healthy, he adds a big piece to the bullpen, and sets the stage for a run at the top of the AL Central.
MANAGER: RON GARDENHIRE
LAST YEAR: 87-76
BIGGEST ADD: JJ HARDY SS
BIGGEST LOSS: ORLANDO CABRERA SS
BEST PROSPECT: JEFF MANSHIP RHP
The Twins have arguably the best player in the game in Joe Mauer, a top closer in the bullpen with Nathan, and a wildcard in the fact they open a new stadium this season. The Twins were very tough in the Metrodome, and with likely more fans in the seats this year in a new park, can they be even better? The Twins hope Francisco Liriano returns to form and return as a top of the rotation starter. If he does, the Twins’ top four were effective and above average a year ago, and they will contend. The Twins’ pen is also above average, and their lineup produced over 5 runs per game. They lack depth, so a key injury could really hurt and if the new park provides the same advantage as the Metrodome or more, and Liriano finds it, the Twins will be sitting pretty in the AL Central.
MANAGER: JIM LEYLAND
LAST YEAR: 86-77
BIGGEST ADD: MAX SCHERZER RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: CURTIS GRANDERSON OF
TOP PROSPECT: AUSTIN JACKSONÂ OF
The Tigers made some moves that may have cost them some offense, but they have also bolstered a very good pitching staff and made it better. If Max Schezer lives up to the scouts’ billing, and Ricky Portello advances off a good rookie season, the Tigers with Verlander and Bonderman already at the top, will have a formiddable staff ready to make a run at the AL Central and beyond. The bullpen isn’t great, but it is good, and if the Tigers don’t drop off in run production much, their pitching is going to win them some games.
MANAGER: MANNY ACTA
LAST YEAR: 65-97
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: NONE
TOP PROSPECT: CARLOS SANTANA C
The Indians stood pat in the off-season, but what happened to this team? They were on the rise in 2007-08 with Carmona, Sabathia, and Lee emerging. That top of the rotation trio is gone, outside of Carmona, who appeared to be a one-year wonder. They also let go of their most relaiable hitter in Victor Martinez, and the Tribe has really dropped off in a big way. What is left brings its own question marks. Grady Seizmore is a misplaced leadoff hitter, and Fausto Carmona has lost his confidence and command. Travis Haffner’s bat was slowed by injuries. Can he get back to the level he was? That just complicates things, because the Tribe isn’t good if all those players aren’t playing well – there simply isn’t anything else. The Bullpen is below average, and Jake Westbrook is your No. 2 starter behind a suspect Carmona. It’s going to be a long year in Cleveland.
MANAGER: TREY HILLMAN
LAST YEAR: 65-97
BIGGEST ADD: JASON KENDALL C
BIGGEST LOSS: COCO CRISP OF
BEST PROSPECT: JORDAN PARROZ OF
It all begins with Zack Greinke. He is a stud at the top of the staff and what happens behind him will determine the Royals’ season. Gil Meche has potential, just hasn’t put it together in Kansas City the way they had hoped. Brian Bannister pretty much can be summed up the same way. Overall the Royals’ staff was a tad below average, and it just doesn’t look promising to advance much beyond that. Joakim Soria has the best stuff, and most potential in the pen, but overall it is below average. They really need a breakout year from Alex Gordon, but even with one they are a hitter or two short. They may win a few more games this season, but no one will notice.