Spring Training is winding down! The start of the season is less than a week away! So, here's the penultimate division preview in my six part series: the AL Central, but I'm gonna keep it a bit shorter, saving my effort for two things. The first is an awesome paper I'm gearing up to write about Frankenstein and "The Dark Knight;" the second is my AL East preview, which will be much more detailed than this one.
1. Cleveland Indians The Indians had a bit of a hiccup in '08, but I think they can rebound to win this division. I don't think Travis Hafner is as bad as he was in '08, and the same goes for Fausto Carmona (even though Carmona is definitely not as good as he was in '07). Cliff Lee most likely won't repeat his Cy Young performance from last year, but even a slight regression wouldn't kill the Indians. The addition of Kerry Wood is a decent one as well, but it could be offset by the addition of one Carl Pavano.
Player to Watch: Grady Sizemore. Grady is probably the best CF in baseball right now, but somehow, I feel he's a slightly under-appreciated. Ken Rosenthal predicted him to win MVP the other day, though, so maybe I'm the one not paying attention.
2. Minnesota Twins The Twins have good young pitching and the best catcher in baseball and the should-have-been-MVP-in-2008: Joe Mauer. With a little more offense, the Twins could challenge the Indians for the division, but I don't think they can muster the runs.
Player to Watch: Delmon Young. Delmon's a solid young player, but his power has yet to show up. If it does in '09, that'll be a huge shot in the arm for the Twinkies and could push them over the edge.
3. Chicago White Sox Maybe it's just my irrational hatred for Ozzie Guillen, but I'm just not high on this team. The offense will probably be there with Konerko, Dye, Thome, and Quentin, but there's no good pitching in Chicago.
Player to Watch: Carlos Quentin. Carlos busted onto the scene in '08 and probably would've won MVP if not for a season ending wrist injury. Was this for real? Who knows?
4. Kansas City Royals Once again, the Royals won't finish in the cellar in '09. Their offense is shoddy, but with Zach Greinke and Gil Meche in the rotation and Joakim Soria out of the 'pen, they've actually got some decent pitching. They may not be great, but they're probably better than what the Tigers can muster up.
Player to Watch: Just for fun, I'm gonna say Kyle Farnsworth. The Royals signed him to a 2 year, $9.25 million deal. This deal is just awful for the Royals, but it could be decent if Farnswoth pitches like he did for the Yankees in the first half of '08. Maybe. Probably not. Have fun with Krazy Kyle, KC.
5. Detroit Tigers This team's just a mess. They might be able to score some runs with Miggy Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Curtis Granderson, but there's no way they can prevent runs The Matt Joyce/Edwin Jackson trade was not a good one for the Tigers, IMO, and with Joel Zumaya starting the year on the DL, the 'pen might be in trouble, too.
Player to Watch: Justin Verlander. The hard throwing right-hander took negative turns in K/9, BB/9, K/BB, ERA, WHIP, and FIP. Yikes. Can he regain his '06-'07 form, when he finished 7th and 5th in the Cy Young voting and a Rookie of the Year award in '06? We'll see. if not, the Tigers will be in for another celler-dwelilng season. Sorry, Michigan.