Sunday, March 15, 2015

2015 American League Central

***The Division Preview that follows is not betting advice in any way shape or form.  Please do not bet any money based in any part on these predictions.***

Don't forget to check out the National League EastNational League CentralNational League West and American League East previews and check back next week for the American League West.

Detroit Tigers
Who's New?: 
Xavier Avery, OF (Free Agent from Mariners)
Anthony Gose, OF (Trade from Blue Jays)
Yoenes Cespedes, OF (Trade from Red Sox)
Alfredo Simon, SP (Trade from Reds)
Shane Greene, SP (Trade from Yankees)
Alex Wilson, RP (Trade from Red Sox)
Alberto Cabrera, RP (Free Agent from Cubs)
Tom Gorzelany, RP (Free Agent from Tigers)

Who Left?:  
Eugenio Suarez, SS (Trade to Reds)
Danny Worth, SS (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Torii Hunter, OF (Free Agent to Twins)
Ezequiel Carrera, OF (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Don Kelly, OF (Free Agent to Marlins)
Robbie Ray, SP (Trade to Diamondbacks)
Shane Greene, SP (Trade to Yankees)
Rick Porcello, SP (Trade to Red Sox)
Max Scherzer, SP (Free Agent to Nationals)
Jose Ortega, RP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Justin Miller, RP( Free Agent to Rockies)
Kevin Whelan, RP (Free Agent to A's)
Jim Johnson,RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Pat McCoy, RP (Waiver Claim by Orioles)
Jose Ortega, RP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Casey Crosby, RP (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Duane Below, RP (Free Agent to Mets)
Phil Coke, RP (Free Agent to Cubs)
Evan Reed, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Winter Headlines:
Victor Martinez gives Tigers an uncomfortable de ja vu.
Scherzer holds Detroit in limbo while the other pitchers land in other cities.
What to Expect?:
The Tigers are more vulnerable this year than they have been since 2008.  Verlander is still the ace of the staff and the identity of this team but injuries have kept him from matching his 2011 numbers.  David Price will be a nice replacement for Scherzer but not having Scherzer, Fister, Porcello or Smyley to fill in third in the rotation.  Anibal Sanchez is a strong pitcher when heathy but he missed a lot of time in 2014 to injury.  Add to that Cabrera and VMart starting the year with injuries and the division could be up for grabs.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
As we saw in the "Almost a Dynasty" article a few months ago, the Tigers have come close to winning it all and suffered some very painful near misses.  For players like Verlander and Cabrera it would be nice to see them hoist a trophy.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Tigers Fans Want?:
Injuries, age and lack of depth.  Fortunately for the Tigers the division is not particularly strong so they may have another year at the top.  The bad news for the Tigers is that Chicago and Minnesota are improved and may push the Tigers.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
This could be most of the offense.  Cabrera and VMart are hurting.  Julio Iglesias is not an offensive threat and J.D. Martinez will suffer from not having the big bats in front of him.  The lack of offense could be the Tigers undoing.
Expect Great Things From:
My first thought when I heard that Cespedes was traded to Detroit was how sad it was that he would be hitting in such a big park.  Then I realized that he had been playing in the gigantic Coliseum in Oakland for the first few years of his career.  With the injuries to he rest of the big bats expect Cespedes to step up until they come back healthy.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Joakim Soria was at one time the closer and All Star representative for the Royals, routinely saving 30 plus games a year (twice surpassing 40).  His experience in Texas and Detroit last year was not a positive one and he is now slated for middle relief.  He needs to overtake Joe Nathan and regain his closing form or he may not get another opportunity.
Prediction: 1st in AL Central

Chicago White Sox
Who's New: 
Juan Diaz, SS (Free Agent from Marlins)
Adam LaRoche, 1B (Free Agent from Nationals)
George Kottaras, C (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Emilio Bonifacio, IF (Free Agent from Braves)
Geovany Soto, C (Free Agent from Athletics)
Gordon Beckham, 2B (Free Agent from Angels)
J.B. Schuck, OF (Waiver Claim from Indians)
Tony Campana, OF (Free Agent from Angels)
Melky Cabrera, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Engel Beltre, OF (Free Agent from Rangers)
Andy La Roche, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Zach Duke, SP (Free Agent from Brewers)
Jeff Samardzjia, SP (Trade from Athletics)
Brad Penny, SP (Free Agent from Marlins)
Charlie Leesman, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Joe Savery, RP (Free Agent from A's)
Logan Kensing, RP (Free Agent from Mariners)
David Robertson, RP (Free Agent from White Sox)
Dan Jennings, RP (Trade from Marlins)
Jesse Crain, RP (Free Agent from Astros)
Matt Albers, RP (Free Agent from Astros)

Who Left: 
Paul Konerko, 1B (Retired)
Marcus Semien, IF (Trade to Athletics)
Josh Phegley, C (Trade to Athletics)
Chris Bassitt, C (Trade to Athletics)
Matt Tuiasasopo, OF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Jordan Danks, OF (Free Agent to Phillies)
Dayan Viciedo, OF (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Chieng Ming Wang, SP (Free Agent to Braves)
Donnie Veal, SP (Free Agent to Braves)
Andre Rienzo, SP (Trade to Marlins)
Charlie Leesman, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Felipe Paulino, SP (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Scott Snodgress, RP (Free agent to Angels)
Daniel McCutcheon, RP (Free Agent to Padres)
Henry Alberto Rodriguez, RP (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Ronald Belisario, RP (Free Agent to Rays)
Matt Lindstrom, RP (Free Agent to Angels)
Winter Headlines:  
Big moves in the off season lead to raised expectations
What to Expect?:
The team is clearly improved and the fact that Detroit appears to have fallen back towards the pack has given many people in Chicago hopes of the post season.  In fact, at the beginning of the off season I myself had the feeling that the Sox were going to be a power to be reckoned with.  Yet after looking at their lineup from top to bottom I am not quite ready for them to overtake the top of the division just yet.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
This is a young (mostly) and exciting group.  If they continue to improve at the same time the cross town Cubs seem to be doing we may have a 1906 Windy City rematch in  few years.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way White Sox Fans Want?:
This team is greatly improved and is certainly looking to head in the right direction but there are still a few holes in this lineup such as Catcher, Second Base, Corner Outfielders and pitching depth.  The Sox will need some people to outperform expectations if they hope to make the post season as they are currently constructed.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
When the A's picked up Jeff Samardzija at the trade deadline last year some people handed them the AL title. In reality, Samardzija is a very good pitcher who is still learning but he has yet to pitch with a very strong team behind him for a full season.  In 2011 Samardzija went 8-4 for the Cubs.  Since then his season records are 9-13, 8-13 and 7-13.  It will be nice to see what he can do with a strong White Sox team behind him but don't expect a Cy Young.
Expect Great Things From:
The White Sox have a potential 1-2 punch that they hae not had since Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura came to town in the early 1990s.  Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.  Eaton led the league with 10 triples last season and scored 76 runs.  Getting on base ahead of an improved White Sox top of the order could lead to nearly 100 runs for Eaton.  Jose Abreu had a monster year for a rookie (or for anyone) hitting .317 with 35 2B, 36 HR and 107 RBI.  Any success the Sox have will be directly tied to this pair.
Is This His Last Chance?:
In 2012 Melky Cabrera was on his way to an MVP award until he was suspended for steroids, then lied about it to his teammates, fans and the league.  He was forced into more service than expected because of Blue Jays injuries last season and had a strong year but the tainted 2012 season seems to continue following him around.  If his numbers fall off in a full season his usefulness to other clubs could be questioned.
Prediction: 2nd in AL Central

Kansas City Royals:
Who's New:  
Nessy Santiago, C (Trade from Blue Jays)
Kendrys Morales, 1B (Free Agent from Mariners)
J.C.Boscan, C (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Ryan Roberts, OF (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Alex Rios, OF (Free Agent from Rangers)
Alex Liddi, OF (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Brian Flynn, SP (Trade from Marlins)
Yohan Pino, SP (Free Agent from Twins)
Kris Medlen, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Edinson Volquez, SP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Franklin Morales, SP(Free Agent from Rockies)
Chris Young, SP (Free Agent from Mariners)
Joe Paterson, RP (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Who Left:  
Billy Butler, DH/1B (Free Agent to A's)
Paul Janish, IF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Brett Hayes, C (Free Agent to Indians)
Jayson Nix, IF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Josh Willingham, OF (Retirement)
Nori Aoki, OF (Free Agent to Giants)
Justin Maxwell, OF (Free Agent to Giants)
Raul Ibanez, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Carlos Peguero, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
James Shields, SP (Free Agent to Giants)
Bruce Chen, SP (Free Agent to Indians)
Pedro Ciriaco, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Blake Wood, RP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Aaron Crow, RP (Trade toMarlins)
Liam Hendricks, RP (Trade to Blue Jays)
Scott Downs, RP (Free Agent to Indians)
Francisley Bueno, RP (Free Agent to Cubs)
Winter Headlines:  
How will they follow up the 2014 success?
What to Expect?:
The Royals surprised quite a few people last year.  Although I had expected them to push Detroit for the Central Division and reach the playoffs, the World Series run was definitely a surprise.  Although their lineup is mostly the same it is not improved.  A healthy Sal Perez should be a nice boost and the confidence of winning last year can't be underestimated but a return to the series is probably a lot to ask.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
These guys got so close last year and entertained everyone in the post season.  It is hard to root against this group and it would be nice to see them finish what they started.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Royals Fans Want?:
Their ace, James Shields, left and was not replaced.  The pitching staff, despite their strong performance in October, is not at the same level as the competition.  Ventura is probably a future ace but Edinson Volquez and Kris Medlen are not a replacement for Shields.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Jason Vargas out pitched some greatly talented competition in the playoffs but his career numbers don't hold up to last offseason.  He is currently listed as a number two starter in the KC rotation but don't expect his regular season numbers to reflect last year's post season success.
Expect Great Things From:
The Kansas City outfield group is absolutely amazing.  Watching the playoffs last year the defense turned nearly every extra base hit into an easy out.  Expect three gold gloves in the outfield this year.
Prediction: 3rd in AL Central

Minnesota Twins:
Who's New:  
Argenis Diaz, SS (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Torii Hunter, OF (Free Agent from Tigers)
Shane Robinson, OF (Free Agent from Cardinals)
Ervin Santana, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Tim Stauffer, RP (Free Agent from Padres)
Brayan Villareal, RP (Free Agent from Red Sox)
Blaine Boyer, RP (Free Agent from Padres)
Who Left:  
Chris Colabello, 1B (Waiver Claim by Blue Jays)
Jason Kubel, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Chris Parmalee, OF (Free Agent to Orioles)
Yohan Pino, SP (Free Agent to Twins)
Matt Guerier, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Anthony Schwarzak, RP (Free Agent to Indians)
Jared Burton, RP (Free Agent to Yankees)
Winter Headlines: 
Hunter Comes Home
What to Expect?:
The Twins are greatly improved. Adding Torii Hunter, although nearing the end of his career, immediately improves any team.  Adding Ervin Santana to the rotation is also a big help.  Twins fans should expect improvement but a playoff run is a very very long shot.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter are two of the classiest guys in the business and neither have won a World Series.  Winning a World Series is not a realistic hope for this team but it is always nice to dream about Torii Hunter lifting the trophy.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Twins Fans Want?:
There is some great talent on this team at a range of stages in their career.  Hunter and Mauer are long time stars.  Kurt Suzuki is an under rated talent behind the plate and Trevor Plouffe is a rising star at third.  Still, there is not enough talent and too many holes to consider this a true contending team.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Ervin Santana is a good pitcher who was a bit of a disappointment in his days in Anaheim.  He showed flashes of greatness but he was never able to give the Angels the counterpart to Jared Weaver that was expected when he came up.  Santana will greatly improve the team but he is not a miracle cure.
Expect Great Things From:
My advice to fans of baseball everywhere, not just those who go to Target Field, is to enjoy watching Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer for as long as you can.  Enjoy every base hit, every smile and every magnificent play they give you
Is This His Last Chance?:
Mike Pelfrey continues to plug away in a career that has now reached nearly a decade.  At 55-70 and 4.56 his career numbers don't match what was expected of him when he arrived on the scene in 2006.  Pelfrey is listed on the Twins depth chart as the sixth starter and will need to fight to stay in the rotation.
Prediction: 4th in AL Central

Cleveland Indians:

Who's New:  
Adam Moore, C (Waiver Claim from Padres)
Brandon Moss, 1B (Trade from Athletics)
Jerry Sands, IF/DH (Free Agent from Rays)
Brett Hayes, C (Free Agent from Royals)
Michael Martinez, IF (Free Agent from Pirates)
Gavin Floyd, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Anthony Swarzak, SP (Free Agent from Twins)
Bruce Chen, SP (Free Agent from Royals)
Jeff Manship, RP (Free Agent from Philies)
Scott Downs, RP (Free Agent from Royals)
Michael Roth, RP (Free Agent from Angels)
Who Left: 
Chris Gimenez, C (Free Agent to Rangers)
Bryan La Hair, IF (Free Agent to Red Sox)
Elliott Johnson, IF (Free Agent to Rangers)
Jason Giambi, IF (Unsigned Free Agent)
J.B. Schuck, OF (Waiver Claim by White Sox)
Matt Carson, OF (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Chris Dickerson, OF (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Nyjer Morgan, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Kyle Davies, SP (Free Agent to Yankees)
Scott Barnes, RP (Trade to Orioles)
Mark Lowe, RP (Free Agent to Mariners)
J.C. Ramirez, RP (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Matt Capps, RP (Free Agent to Braves)
Winter Headlines:  
After 2013 success Francona and crew take steps back.
What to Expect?:
With Kansas City and Detroit at the top and Minnesota and Chicago improved, Cleveland may fall o the bottom of the division.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948.  Since then each of their division competitors have won at least one.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Indians Fans Want?:
The Indians have done very little to improve their fortunes while the two teams below them have worked hard this off season.  Despite some big expectations when Francona took over this season may be a big step back.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Gavin Floyd has arrived in camp and has impressed the team with his progress.  With Corey Kluber having a break out year in 2014 it would be easy to predict the 1-2 punch Cleveland expected from Kluber and Masterson but realistically Floyd is probably not enough to give the Indians a boost in the standings.
Expect Great Things From:
Lonnie Chisenhall had a breakout season in 2014 with career highs in average, Home Runs, Doubles, RBI and runs.  Expect Chisenhall to continue his strong performance and possibly represent the Tribe at the All Star Game.
Prediction: 5th in AL Central

*-Please be aware that these predictions are based on the rosters as set in the middle of March.  There are still several key free agents unsigned which could alter these previews.  Also, injuries during spring training could alter my outlook.  Don't miss the A.L. East preview of last week.  Check back next week for the AL West Preview and continue following to see my final predictions at the start of the season.

The Orioles won the American League East in 2012 for the first time since 1997.  The Orioles actually won five of the first six AL East titles (1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974) only being knocked off by the Tigers in 1972.

They won the AL East two more times (1979 and 1983) before winning again in 1997 and 2014.

This brings the team's totals to 9.

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
The Tigers have won four consecutive Division Titles in the Central.  Since the league went to a divisional format in 1969, how many division titles (AL East and AL Central combined) have the Tigers won?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have questions about something in this or a former post? Have a suggestion for a future post? Want more information on a specific team, player, season or game? I welcome the feedback, so feel free to leave a comment in the box or email me at baseballeras (at) gmail (dot) com.