2008 AL Central Preview
The American League Central looks to be a race between a pair of clubs. Then again, you never know what will happen with the length of the baseball season, midseason trades and teams that can simply mystify with their unpredictable play.
The battle for first is between last season’s top AL Central club, the Cleveland Indians, and the AL reps to the 2006 World Series, the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have perhaps the best pitching staff in the Central Division. Detroit has improved their lot by adding quality players, including Renteria, Cabrera and Willis.
The Cleveland Indians, on the other hand, have done little to alter last season’s near-championship team. It’s been 59 years since the Tribe won the world title and last season’s near miss was especially cruel since they seemed to have the Red Sox on the ropes but could not land the final blow. They offer a fine one-two punch in the pitching rotation.
The Chicago White Sox won it all in 2005. They have not come close in the past two seasons. Underachievers or untalented—which is it? The Sox need more talent. That’s for sure. But their core guys could also do more. They offer one of the finest closers in the game but little else in the bullpen and their hitters simply need to hit.
The new manager of the Kansas City Royals is Trey Hillman, and he has some fine young talent with which to work. The Royals spent some money to upgrade this season and were actively in the hunt for top free agents. Everything may be up to date in Kansas City very soon. These guys will give the White Sox a run for their money.
Torii Hunter is gone. Johan Santana is gone. Minnesota is a changed team. Delmon Young is an up and coming talent in center field. The starting rotation is up in the air with rookie Kevin Slowey looking to get a spot on the roster. The bullpen is strong but will they have any games to save? What will the Twins do? I think “rebuild” is the answer.
A healthy Tiger teams beats any other healthy team in this division. The Indians should have signed one more money guy on offense, while the White Sox really needed to add personnel all around. Young guys, like those on the Royals, can make miracles happen, while the Twins look to be confused for a while as they adjust to life without some of their best players.
2008 American League Central Predictions
Projected Order of Finish:
Click on team name for individual team preview.