Its time for part three of the 2009 MLB Preview series here and this time we have the interesting case of the AL Central. Last year at this time, we were all talking about if the Tigers could score 1000 runs as team, and they just all together failed. Their problems have continued over the offseason and things do not look good for them. That leaves the division open for three teams that would love that spot. The White Sox would love to repeat, the Twins and the Indians think they have the talent to stop them.
4) Kansas City
1) The Indians will be battling out the division up until the end of the season, and ultimately they will get it. I think the arrival of DeRosa will give Sizemore more quality AB and will also help out Hafner and Martinez more valuable AB and thats where the fate of this team lies, those two guys. If they return to form, this team can take this division. Their rotation will be solid with Lee and Carmona will bounce back and thei bullpen seems pretty solid, especially with our guy Joe Smith there. One of the reasons they win is because the Twins are young and I think they will fizz out as the season goes on.
2) The Twins are going to be fast this year and they have a very good chance of winning this division. Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer are a very good set in the middle of the lineup but the problem is the players around them can be pretty week. The key player in the lineup for them will be Gomez who needs to produce to help out this team. Their rotation worries me and can hold them back but their closer in the back of the rotation will help them out.
3) The White Sox are the dark horse in this division. Basically they need Alexei Ramirez to have a big year and help out Carlos Quentin, together they can revitalize the lineup. Once again though, they have the same problem that the Twins have with a shakey rotation but a good bullpen. So we will have to see if the pitching can carry this team into October.
4) The Royals will not be last this year. Thier offense is not terrible and their pitching is better thand the Tigers that they will bounce back. There are some players that will make noise in KC and they include Guillen, Jacobs and Soria. Soria is an ideal closer and probably would get more national attention if he played for a better club. Another plus for the Royals, their stadium has had some pretty major renovations and feels like a new stadium.
5) The Tigers will be at the bottom this year. Their lineup still is probably the best in the division but really they have no pitching. Verlander lost it last year, Bonderman won't start in the rotation, Willis is back on the DL again things do not look good for them. Their bullpen has a closer who has been in the big leagues for six years but only has pitched 50 games, they are missing Zumaya and they a failing Robertson. This team needs help.
Best Lineup: Tigers, Indians 2nd
Best Rotation: Indians, no 2nd
Best Pen: Twins, Indians 2nd