The A.L. Central is the toughest division in baseball other than the A.L. East. The Royals and Indians are revamped for the season with free agent signing, trades, and minor league talent. The Tigers are starting to dismantle their team, with the hopes to rebuild(pshh what a joke, the Tigers). The twins are probably the biggest competition in the division with a new mindset of the owner, other than just trying to make a buck. I have my outlook based on posts I read and what I've read on the internet and in magazines.
Pitching: The Twins have a OK pitching staff with the exceptions of Philip Humber and Francisco Liriano. In the bullpen, the only real force there is Joe Nathan, and he is starting a slow decline. The starting staff is full of number 3 and 4 starters in the other spots other than Liriano and Humber. The starting staff will have a lot of weight on there shoulders knowing that they will have to pitch deep into the game because of the weakness of their bullpen. In the bullpen, Joe Nathan will have to close the 8 and 9 innings in most games. Other than him, the only formidable pitchers in the bullpen will be Jesse Crain, and Pat Neshek if his arm is better. Out of a 10, I would give the pitching staff a 8.
Hitting: The Twins have a all around hitting staff. Their power is below average, but the average aspect of the team is a little better than most teams. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer will have to lead the team in hitting most of the time. Denard Span will probably leadoff most of the time. Delmon Young has to get better. I just found out that Crede just signed a contract with the Twins. He probably won't be a starter because of his bad back. Out of a 10, I would give the Twins a 5 out of 10 on hitting.
Pitching: The Indians pitching staff is going to be pretty good, it will be led by Cliff Lee. The starting rotation was pretty awful and when they traded Sabathia during last season, the rotation ace spot was completely took over by Cliff Lee. During the offseason, the Indians biggest name signing was Kerry Wood. He didn't get too big of a contract, but it was a big blow in confidence to the division rivals. Now the Indians have a reliable pitcher to close out the 9th inning when needed. The rotation is going to be Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, Faust Carmona, Anthony Reyes, and Carl Pavano. It is going to be a stron rotation coming into this year. The bullpen is not as big a mess as it was during last season. Rafael Perez and Rafael Bentacourt are going to be the Short Releif and Setup guys in the pen. Kerry Wood is going to close. Masa Kobayashi is going to be a middle releif pitcher and the long releif will probably be Scott Lewis. The extra option in the bullpen will be Jensin Lewis. Out of a scale of 1-10, I would give the Indians pitching staff a 8.5.
Hitting: The Indians have always had a trademark for their hitting. The hitting last season however, was pretty bad other than Grady Sizemore. Victor Martinez can't catch that much anymore because his knees are getting bad and Kelly Shopach took most of the at bats at catcher last year. He will probably catch most of this season too. Victor Martinez can be backup when needed at the catchers position. Victor martinez or Travis Hafner might start at 1st base. Garko is pretty good, but the Indians need to have both of the bats in the order. Casey blake might not see that much of the playing field this year. And at DH, Hafner and Martinez might start at either 1st or DH. At second you have Josh Barfield or Asdrubal Cabrera. At shortstop the Indians have Johhny Peralta. At third, Mark Derosa will be starting. And in the outfield, the Indians have Grady Sizemore in center, Ben Francisco at right, and hopefully someone better than David Delluci in left. Out of a scale of 1-10, the Indians have a 7.
Pitching: The Royals havn't had a good pitching staff for a while. 2 years ago, Gil Meche was supposed to be a super starter after getting signed to a 5 year $60 million dollar contract. He finally started showing how he was worth $10M a year.The bullpen got weakened when they traded away Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez. The Royals tried to make up for the trades by signing Kyle Farnsworth. The starting pitching is starting to work. Out of a scale of 1-10, I give the Royals a 6.
Hitting: To put it this way, the hitting on the royals is "improving". Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs are going to drastically improve the Royals run production. Mike Aviles might of not been a fluke, but his minor league numbers say somthing else. Alex Gordon might decline this year, but he might hit better too. Out of a scale of 1-10, I give the royals a 6 out of 10.
Pitching: The Tigers had the best pitching staff in the majors last season, but it just didn't work well together and the Tigers missed the playoffs even with a stacked pitching staff. With Justin Verlander leading the staff as the ace, the Tigers pitching staff is full of hopes. Armando Gallaraga led the staff in wins, Jeremy Bonderman is a good pitcher. The tigers are hoping that Edwin jackson will be strong next season. The last spot in the rotation goes to Dontrelle Willis. His arm is dead, butb the tigers won't give up on him. The bullpen has a hole in the closer part because of Todd Jones retirement. If Zumaya or Rodney can show that they have the stuff, they might take the closer spot. Right now though, the Tigers have Brandon Lyons as their closer. The rest of the bullpen is a toss up between Bobby Seay and Freddy Dolsi. Out of a scale of 1-10, I give the Tigers a 8 on pitching.
Hitting: This year, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio ordonez will have a lot on their shoulders. Granderson it set to leadoff. This year, Guillen is moving to the outfield, that might affect his numbers, but the Tigers are getting desperate. Inge has third base all to himself. Polanco can hold the place of second base by defense alone, any offense is a plus. Adam Everett will only be given the job of having to field shortstop well enough to keep his job. Gerald Laird has starting catcher locked up. Gary Sheffeild will have a good season saying he is less than 5 homers away from 500. Out of a scale of 1-10, I would give the tigers a 7 on hitting.
This season, the division is going to be heavily contested. The Twins right now are the front runners to take the division. Here is how I think that the division will come out to be.
Please comment if you think anything could be better or I left out. Thanks!