Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Predictions (part 1 - AL Central,)

Over the course of spring training, I will attempt to predict the final standings in each division around the bigs. I may or may not throw in some individual award winners along with playoff scenarios, we'll see. I'll start with what I know best, the AL central. This means, of course, that I will probably completely miss on these predictions.

White Sox (5th): The current depth chart is a collection of the very old, the very young, and a big closer. Even if the Cuban Missile (Ramirez) and Quentin both improve on their impressive last season, the rest of the team has gotten older and more achy. Buehrle somehow runs under the radar as a high-level starter, but after that its a bunch of guys fighting for the 3-4 spots in a good rotation. My guess is they sucumb to the same cycle as the Indians and Tigers 2007 (good) then 2008 (bad) and finish in last place in the central.

Royals (4th): All of their prospects have career years. Unfortunately, all of their prospects lost prospect status at least 3 years ago and their career years are the definition of major league ordinary. Luckily their banner year puts them at not-last in the division two years running.

Tigers (3rd): They should have solid line-up, but the same was said last year. I expect that Verlander will bounce back a bit this year and settle in as a 12-15 win pitcher. The kitties need Bonderman to get past the non-baseball injuries enough to eat some innings. Galarraga can go one of two ways, that being good or bad (amazing analysis there). In the second half last year his ERA was a run higher than the first half. One of two things happened: 1) He tired out at the end of his rookie season, partly because he was hurling for a team in last place, or 2) He was deceptive before people faced him and was hittable afterwards. I'm betting on the second and I think the injury bug hits the rest of the team just enough to keep them from challenging for the division title.

Twins (2nd): The Twins are typically the poster-boy for mid- or small-market teams. Over the last 6 seasons, they've won between 79 and 96 wins with only one losing season (2007). I have no idea how they won the games they did with the pitchers they had (other than Joe Nathan who is amazing). Somehow, though, they will win their 86-89 games. They are as stable as any team in the bigs, but that puts them in the low-risk, low-reward territory. Their lineup should improve if healthy, but their pitching has to take a small step back leading to a second year of just falling short of the playoffs.

Indians (1st): This is first and foremost a complete homer call, lest there be some ambiguity. But here are the reasons that the Indians can and should win the division:
1) The starting pitching is just above mediocre, but in the AL Central, that's good enough. It helps that the Indians have the pitching depth to plan on Pavano being hurt and taking what they can get from Anthony Reyes. Cliff Lee will certainly step back from his first half last year, but his splits showed that he actually faired better against teams he faced multiple times last year (except the Tigers). No reason to think he goes away completely and likewise, Carmona has to bounce back from a disappointing 2008.
2) Besides Lee last year, the pitching was only okay after Sabathia was traded but somehow the club roared back to finish the season at .500. If the team can finish .500 after trading an ace and getting no production from its 3-hitter (Hafner) and very little from its 4 hitter (VICTOR), then they should be the class of the division if they get anything from those two men.
3) Go Tribe!
4) As far as I can tell, all of their players this year play at least 13 positions on the field. Not only that, but their utility players this year should be picked based on ability to play the game instead of trying to save face on a "can't miss" prospect. Mix the two and you have a good chance of staying healthy and productive.
5) No one cares about David Delucci. He played a lot early last year in the hopes that he would be good enough to dump on someone else in a trade. This year, I expect him to fair decently as a situational hitter or be unceremoniusly given the boot by the end of May.
6) Go Tribe!


Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

So will you be choosing all Indians in the draft this year? Wait, did Mike eat you and start posting on your blog? Or did you eat him? You guys are eating each other. I can tell.

Philthy Phil said...

Understanding your bias... I think you are still underestimating the Twins. First of all over the past 6 seasons they did have some pitchers racking up wins. I mean Johan Santana was pretty good. 20-6 in 2004 and logging no less than 15 wins any season after that. Silva and Lohse even won some games.

That being said, all those guys are gone. I would bet Liriano has a good year but they're definitely going to need people to step up. Delmon Young could have a career year, Morneau will have a good year like always. Just hope Crede, Punto, Cuddyer, and Kubel can string together enough hits to play some small ball. They could win. Stranger things have happened.

rissykay99 said...

I care about Delucci. But only because I like saying his name. DELUCCI!

Also, I concur on points 3 & 6 in the Tribe sections.