Thursday, March 11, 2010
Center of Attention
If I could be one other person in the world, I would probably choose to be Matt Stairs. If not him though, I would probably choose Joe Mauer. Mauer is one of the greatest baseball players out there right now, had a standing offer under Bobby Bowden to play QB at Florida State, and could probably win the vote for Governor of Minnesota. Not only that, Mauer has only broken 4 or 5 bats in his whole baseball career. Shit is unreal. Because of Mauer's game, I like the Twins to win the AL Central this year. Yes sir, no more picking the Indians for this guy. The AL Central will certainly not be one of the best divisions in baseball, but the Twinkees could be a force come October.
1. Minnesota Twins
Joe Mauer has a great chance to win AL MVP again this year and lead the Twins to the playoffs again. However, unlike last year it will not just be Mauer carrying this team. The Twins have made some serious upgrades to their lineup, and their pitching should grow from last year. I like the Twins to win about 88 games and take the AL Central.
KEY ADDITION: Orlando Hudson. The O Dawg will provide a big upgrade at 2nd base in Minnesota, but so will J.J. Hardy (who I previously had listed on the Brewers, my apologies) and Jim Thome at short and DH. Also, don't forget that the Twins didn't have former MVP Justin Morneau for the entire second half last year. Needless to say this lineup is gonna be good.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Jon Rauch. Can Jon Rauch do an adequate job filling in for Joe Nathan? We shall see. Pat will be interested to know that he has an I beam tattooed on his neck. Just kidding.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Jason Kubel. I dub him Kubie, and may he have a great year at the plate for Minnesota. Not that 28 homers and 103 rbis was too shabby last year.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Delmon Young. The former #1 overall pick has yet to show fans how good he can be. Maybe this year will be the year.
2. Chicago White Sox
This team made some quality additions both last year at the deadline, and this offseason in free agency. However, their core of players is getting pretty old. I don't think they have what it takes to make the playoffs this year. If they can stay healthy though, they might surprise some people. Look for another battle down the stretch, but for the White Sox will fall just a tad short with about 85 wins.
KEY ADDITION: Juan Pierre. Pierre played really well with Manny out in L.A. last year, but then was relegated to the bench again when he returned. Now he will get another chance to shine as a starter in Chicago. He will have fans of the other A.L. Central teams saying "Fuck you Pierre" in no time.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Jake Peavy. Peavy used to be nasty, but was limited by injury last year. How will he respond to this injury and the complete transition to the A.L.? If he does well, it could be Chicago at the top of this division.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Gordon Beckham. This guy seems like a pretty cool dude, and from all indications should have a big year in the Chi. He might remind White Sox fans of a young Robin Ventura.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Bobby Jenks. Apparently this oaf has limited his pork rind intake and committed himself to becoming a good closer once again. He could be the difference between the Chi Sox and Twins taking the division.
3. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers made one of the silliest trades in all of baseball in the offseason in my opinion. Edwin Jackson had a great season for them last year and they shipped him off for Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Mark Schlereth's son. As De'Andre Cole would say, "What Up With That?" Because of that move, I don't think their pitching will be good enough to compete, no matter how good their lineup will ever be. Look for the Tigers to put up about a .500 season, and maybe start to dump some expensive players at the deadline.
KEY ADDITION: John Damon. He is an old man now, time to start acting like one. Damon proved he can still hit and will give the Tigers a solid bat from the left side of the plate. On another note, do not google image search John Damon with safe search off.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Max Scherzer. Was this guy worth trading away Edwin Jackson for? This writer votes no.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Rick Porcello. Porcello flashed some skills last year, but ended up with an ERA near 4. Look for him to whittle that down this year and post over 15 wins.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Justin Verlander. He has looked shaky so far this spring. Can he sustain the punishment of throwing near 100mph for another season?
4. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are one team I always wish the best for. Their uniforms are awesome, and they are one of baseball's payroll underdogs. Unfortunately, it looks as if Zack Greinke might be the Royals only bright spot in the rotation again this year. The problem facing the Royals is free agency. It looked like they were developing a nice young core, but then half of them bolted as soon as they got the chance. Still though, they have a few good guys that they can build around if they can afford to keep them. Look for the Royals to make some progress this year.
KEY ADDITION: Rick Ankiel. Though his official nickname is "Ammerin Ank", I shall henceforth refer to him as "St. Anky". Kudos to you if you know the reference. He will be a nice power bat to add to the Kansas City lineup.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Luke Hochevar. Will this highly touted prospect ever live up to his hype? Greinke could definitely use his help.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Billy Butler. Reminds me of a young Pete Incaviglia. Although that would probably mean he won't ever have a breakout season.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Brian Bannister. The guy has been decent at times. Maybe he can be a decent #3 option in KC. Kauffman Stadium looks pretty cool.
5. Cleveland Indians
The Indians are in a rebuilding phase and are definitely going to struggle this year. The only recognizable name left on their team is Grady Sizemore. My how things have changed in Cleveland from only 3 years ago when they were in the ALCS. Look for them to only win about 70 games this year.
KEY ADDITION: Russell Branyan. He had a career year in Seattle last year, but will probably not repeat it. He is a solid addition to help mentor the young players though.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Fausto Carmona. He was an integral player in the 2007 ALCS team. Will he ever be good again?
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Matt Laporta. The guy the Indians got for C.C. Sabathia might be ready to show what he can do this year as a full time player.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Carlos Santana. Since this guy was traded to the Indians, his "Supernatural" play has made him the Indians top prospect. His "Evil Ways" with the bat have many thinking that he can be the next Victor Martinez. All he'll have the pitchers saying is "Oy(V)e(y) Como Va." I'm just being humorous.
There you have the AL Central in all its glory.