With football season dead and buried and March Madness still a few weeks away, I figured it would be as a good a time as any to break out my first annual MLB season preview. I'll be covering every division one at a time with the exception of the AL East due to a self-imposed gag order that provides me protection should my unwritten words jinx any team in that division that rhymes with "lead box." Anyways here goes.
The Tigers have one of the best lineups assembled in recent years and a have added to a quality pitching staff that made the World Series just two years ago. Detroit’s lineup has three MVP candidates in Miguel Cabrera, Gary Sheffield, and Magglio Ordonez.
Their one weakness come playoff time could be a bullpen that lacks any elite arms with Joel Zumaya recovering from an arm injury.
The acquisition of Dontrelle Willis isn't as big as you might expect as his numbers have been way down the last two years.
Prediction: 1st Place 97-103 wins
The Tribe came within a few outs from their first World Series appearance in over a decade. Cleveland brought everybody back except Kenny Lofton who put on a show in the postseason.
Obviously, the pitching staff is anchored by C.C Sabathia and Fausto Carmona; they also have some depth with the up and down Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd.
If this team is going to challenge for the division title or wild card it needs Travis Hafner to have a big comeback year after a atypical 2007 and breakthroughs from Asdrubal Cabrera and Ryan Garko.
The bullpen is the best in the division, but is weakened by the presence of Joe Borowski in the closer role which leaves the team sweating out games that aren't put away in the 9th.
Prediction 2nd: place 85-93 wins
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have been up and down since winning the World Series two years ago and lack the lineup or pitching staff of the top two teams in the division.
The pitching seems to have declined dramatically from the incredible 2005 team that was untouchable for most of that year.
The lineup is solid with the additions of Nick Swisher (he should have a big year playing in U.S Celluar Field), Carlos Quentin, and Orlando Cabrera to go along with the core of Paul Konerko and Jim Thome (who needs to stay healthy if they're to contend).
The bullpen isn't too spectacular outside of Bobby Jenks who quietly had a great season with a WHIP of 0.89 and ERA of 2.77 for an average Chi Sox team.
Prediction: 3rd place 78-85 wins
Kansas City Royals
Get excited Kansas City, this is finally the year you move out of the AL Central dungeon.
Leading the effort are Gil Meche, who proved worthy of the huge deal KC gave him last year, and Alex Gordon who should be ready to join the other elite AL third basemen this year.
Other than those two I couldn't pick a single other player on this team out of a lineup.
Prediction: 4th place 73-76 wins
The Twins aren't an awful baseball team but the Central kicked it up a notch this year and the Twins went the wrong direction.
The Santana trade made no sense whatsoever and they should have kept the best pitcher in baseball. Better that than pin your hopes on a former stud pitcher who had elbow surgery (Francisco Liriano) and some prospects no one has ever heard of.
The Twins do have some pieces though in Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan, and Justin Morneau, but that won't be nearly enough to contend in the AL.
Put this team in the NL and they probably would be a top five team.
Prediction: 5th place 65-70 wins