Before we get to the AL Central rundown I wanted to share a thought I had recently. I figure what all baseball fans need is for a player to step forward and confess everything about his use of performance enhancers. It’s got to be a player most casual fans know and he must do it of his own free will. The only way we’re getting past this is to learn everything and take it from there.
I have found the perfect person for this job: Nomar Garciaparra.
Let’s face it, we all think he did roids anyway. That cover shot on Sports Illustrated followed by a string of strange injuries that derailed a promising career certainly hints at it.
I could be wrong, but Nomar, if you read this, come clean with everything. You won’t shock the world, but if you do it while waiting for a team to sign you – willingly putting the tail end of your career in jeopardy – to tell the truth, maybe other players will do the same.
Come on, Nomar. Lead the charge.
Onto more serious things. The American League Central. The most hotly contested division last year. Took an extra game just to decide it! Man, I can’t wait for baseball to start!!
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
2008 Status: 89-74; first place with one game playoff win over Twins; lost to Rays in ALDS
Key Offseason Moves: Resigning Bobby Jenks; signing Bartolo Colon (who will be dining with Jenks during road trips); signing Cuban phenom Dayan Viciedo; losing Joe Crede to their rivals in Minnesota; regulating Ozzie Guillen’s medications.
What’s It All Mean: They’ll be a tough team to deal with, but their Achilles heal from last season was their bullpen and it doesn’t look like they’ve done much to shore things up during the offseason. Unless they plan on using some of the parts the Yankees gave them for Nick Swisher? The aging lineup has to be a concern, too. Konerko, Thome, Dye (is he still on this team?), Pierzynski are all on the downward slope.
Wild Card: Um, yeah. I guess I should have saved that Yankee trade line for here. If any of those pitchers contribute, the White Sox will be back in the hunt. Also, Rookie of the Year runner up Alexei Ramirez could become a superstar this year. Or pull an Ellsbury.
Bottom Line: Lots of flaws and questions, but expect them in the mix most of the season.
2008 Status: 81-81; third place
Key Offseason Moves: Actually, their most important move came when they traded away CC Sabathia (Yankees thank you very much) during last season. Signed Kerry Wood to be their closer; took a gamble that the Yankees were the problem and signed Carl Pavano to a one year deal; traded for Mark DeRosa; signed Kelly Shoppach then a bunch of minor league deals were handed out. This includes Tomo Ohka, a sure sign the Indians are grasping at straws.
What’s It All Mean: Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona the Indians still have a tough 1-2 combo. But who’s after that? Pavano? Maybe he can help if he stays healthy, but very few people are counting on that. The lineup is top heavy with Sizemore, Peralta, Garko and DeRosa, but have a LOT of question marks there, as well.
Wild Card: Can Cliff Lee repeat last year’s dominance? Which Travis Hafner shows up this season? Does Kerry Wood stay healthy? Does Sizemore put up MVP numbers again?
Bottom Line: Have the makings of a very good team, but there are way too many balls being juggled for everything to come together. Might be slightly better than last year, but not by much.
2008 Status: 74-88; last place; utter disaster
Key Offseason Moves: Punting Todd Jones into retirement and replacing him with Brandon Lyon; traded for catcher Gerald Laird; traded for pitcher Edwin Jackson; signed Ramon Santiago and Adam Everett to one year deals; most importantly got rid of Edgar Renteria.
What’s It All Mean: After making a huge splash with the Willis – Cabrera trade and signing the Tigers made some deft moves. Really like the Jackson and Laird trades. With Laird and Everett joining Inge, Polanco, Sheffield, Guillen, Ordonez, and Cabrera this is going to be one tough lineup. Throw Verlander, Bonderman, and Jackson as your top three and you got a nice team.
Wild Card: The health of Sheffield. The Tigers can survive without him, but if he’s healthy he takes this lineup to an entirely different level of scary. Also, what does Dontrelle Willis contribute? If he gets back to his prime (remember he’s not even 28 yet) then the Tigers are going to be one of the elites.
Bottom Line: Better than last year and could be much, MUCH better.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
2008 Status: 75-87; fourth place which is, sadly, an improvement over the last decade.
Key Offseason Moves: As usual there were many minor league contracts being offered out of KC, but not many real moves. They extended Zach Greinke four years and…uh….I dunno…signed Horacio Ramirez? Oh, wait! They traded for Coco Crisp. What? It’s something. They also signed Kyle Farnsworth. Not exactly sure why.
What’s It All Mean: Yet another in a long line of dismal seasons along the Mississippi (Kansas City is along the Mississippi, right?). Not much pitching (Brian Bannister and his 5.76 ERA is projected as their third starter) and not much punch in the lineup.
Wild Card: I dunno. Maybe they discover some diamond in the rough with one of their farm kids. Maybe Coco showing off his 2007 ring will inspire them to greater things. Like not finishing last. Honestly, I got nothin’.
Bottom Line: MLB may need to step in and force a sale to an owner that actually seems to care. KC is a fantastic sports town and it would be a tragedy to keep forcing this rag tag bunch on the folks that live there.
2008 Status: 88-75; lost to White Sox in one game playoff; my favorite team other than the Red Sox.
Key Offseason Moves: Resigning Nick Punto; signing Joe Crede; signing Jason Kubel. All smart, cost effective signings while keeping their young, dynamic players.
What’s It All Mean: They came within a game of making the playoffs, they’ve improved themselves without giving up anything and have one of the best managers in the game. You tell me what that all means.
Wild Card: Carlos Gomez. If he breaks out this season like I expect…how do I put this? Watch the FUCK out! That sums it up! You'll be seeing him a lot on SportsCenter this year.
Bottom Line: My favorite to not only win the division, but take the American League. Pitching, defense, hitting, speed. The most complete team in the league.
Lost entry tomorrow, but I’ll try to get the AL done on Friday.
Today’s distraction: Some funky furniture designs. I want the bathroom one with the really skinny pull out drawers. Also like the bed that folds into a box.