Monday, April 7, 2008

Season Predictions: AL Central

Yes, I know unlike the Red Sox not everyone has picked the Indians to win the Central.  Most people picked the Tigers.  The Tigers probably have the best lineup in all of baseball but most of their starters are injury prone or old(i.e. Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez etc.)  and Gary Sheffield and Curtis Granderson are already injured.  The Tigers also probably have the most overrated rotation in the Major Leagues.  Verlander is an ace, Willis had an ERA of 5.17 last year, Bonderman is a solid number 3 guy, Robertson is a little below or might be at league average but has been having arm problems as of late and Kenny Rogers barely has anything left in the tank at 43.  Those two areas have been talked about as the Tigers strengths but both can easily fall apart.  Now talking about their "only" weakness, the bullpen.  They used to have a solid bullpen, but when Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, their setup men, got injured that was it.  They have no talent in their bullpen whatsoever and even more so after their only young pitcher left in the bullpen and minot leagues, Jordan Tata, got injured.

Now, to talk about why the Cleveland Indians will win their division and not why the Tigers will lose it.  The Indians rotation is stocked.  They have a bona fide ace in CC Sabathia, a groundball specialist whose drastically improved from last year in Jake Westbrook, a young guy with tons of upside and the stuff of an ace in Fausto Carmona, the classy veteran in Paul Byrd who always gives you a chance to win and Cliff Lee the veteran that will be replaced soon by their young pitching prospects.  But that's not it, they have a top tier minor league system and have four other starters that are all major league ready and under 24 years of age.  Jeremy Sowers, being the oldest and has the least upside will be a future number 4-5 guy but the rest of them, Chuck Lofgren, Aaron Laffey and Adam Miller will all be 1-3 material in the bigs and all have great stuff.  

The Indians bullpen is probably the best in the MLB, compared with the Tigers who have the worst in the league.  Their closer is their only weak link.  You may ask so then why is he their closer?  The answer is because he's getting paid too much not to be and also Mark Shapiro, the Indians GM, figured out that your closer isn't the most important part of your bullpen.  Last year they had the best setup-man duo in the majors with Rafael Perez in the 7th and Rafael Betancourt in the 8th.  This year they added Masahide Koboyashi from Japan to form a trio of great relievers all with completely different stuff.

Their lineup is also one of the best in the majors, yet very young and underrated.  Their leadoff hitter is arguably the best center-fielder in baseball in Grady Sizemore.  Then the young guy with a ton of upside that Shapiro plucked from the the Mariners for nada, Asdrubal Cabrera. Following is their best hitter and also a great Shapiro pickup(as was Grady Sizemore), Travis Hafner.  Victor Martinez bats cleanup and you can guess why.  Ryan Garko, the kid, is a great hitter that will end up mashing 40 homers and a 900+ OPS. per season.  Following him are Jhonny Peralta, Casey Blake who never seems to get old, David Delluci and the platoon of Jason Michael and Franklin Gutierrez.  Their 6-9 hitters are better than the Pirates 1-4 hitters(that's how good this lineup is!). They also have top prospects in CF, LF, 1B and 3B in Trevor Crowe, Ben Francisco, Beau Mills and Wes Hodges in that order.

The Rest of the Division Goes as Follows:
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Detroit Tigers
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Minnesota Twins



Avi L-S said...

Ari screw you, you know the twins will take it. everyone who reads this, please ignore this ignorant young mets fan. you gotta believe in the twins otherwise nothing'll happen! Twins fans-wave your Homer Hankies high!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avi L-S

Ari Berkowitz said...

They dont have santana or hunter

Avi L-S said...

really. i didnt know that. thanks for pointing that out for me... stam i know, this is a building season for the twins. wait till next year!