Spring Training Preview: AL Central
More and more, the AL's "Big Four" looks like a "Big Three." The Indians return virtually everyone from last year's division titlist, a team that was one win from a World Series. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the lack of moves to address the team's poor corner outfield options and a relatively top-heavy lineup are worrisome. The Tigers got a lot better, while the Indians seem to be hoping that posting a .260 EqA again will be enough. Whether internally or externally, they have to upgrade the outfield this spring to maintain their status.
If you knew nothing else but the lists of players coming and going, you'd have to conclude it was a good winter on the South Side. The Sox upgraded a terrible bullpen and outfield, and got better at shortstop while dealing just one player, in Garland, who meant anything to them.
The Garland-for-Cabrera trade was the signature move in an offseason that saw the Sox dump a whole bunch of the dead weight from the '07 team. That deal helps them a lot; you don't often get to upgrade by 50 points of OBP in the infield, and Cabrera is also a good defensive shortstop. There's a lot of variance here; guys like Quentin, Cuban signee Ramirez, and
There are things that can go wrong here. The Tigers have given up a lot of their pitching depth, so injuries to the rotation could set a fairly ugly cycle in motion. They have an old lineup, and a collective significant drop in performance by the group of
The Royals need a couple more good drafts before we can start to look at them as a baseball team and not an afterthought. They are becoming more enjoyable to watch, as
It's a new team in Minnesota, but it's not necessarily a bad one. Lost in the gnashing of teeth over the Santana deal is that they won't miss him all that much on the mound. The Twins are loaded with starting pitching, from holdovers