Two Weeks until Opening Day! Here's the AL Central 2012 Preview:
2012 Bro Council AL Central Preview
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are the destination of big names now possibly past their prime, or trying to regain past success. Gone are stars Mark Buehrle and Carlos Quentin. There is one great player in Paul Konerko (.300, 31 homers, 105 RBI). 2B Gordon Beckham is a former top pick that has struggled mightily the last few years, Adam Dunn had the worst statistical season in MLB history: .159 average, 11 homers, 177 strikeouts and a .569 OPS in 122 games. Former Blue Jay Alex Rios is here, after a .227 average, his career is a roller coaster of modest success and crushing failure.
In the rotation is former NL Cy Young Winner Jake Peavy, who has struggled during his time with the White Sox. For a team filled with big names there really isn't much hope on the South Side of Chicago. Each player needs to return to where they used to be in order for the White Sox to have any success this year, and it's not very likely. Maybe next year White Sox fans.
Prospect to watch: SP Nestor Molina. Molina is the top pitching prospect in the organization, acquired over the offseason from the Blue Jays. He hasn't played above AA, but has the ability to get to the Majors this year.
The Indians got off to a hot start last year, and were in first place at the All Star Break, only to suffer a summer swoon and finish the season under .500 at 80-82. The Indians have some talent, and there are quite a few good players on the team. C Carlos Santana had 27 homeruns last year, SS Asdrubal Cabrera drove in 92 runs, and new addition Casey Kotchman hit .306 last year for the Rays. They aren't the best team in the division but they are near the top.
The rotation took a bit of a hit over the offseason as one of their better pitchers, Fausto Carmona, revealed that he was not 28, but 31 and his real name is Roberto Heredia. The rest of the rotation joins former Brave Derek Lowe with Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco and Ubaldo Jimenez, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Rockies. Jimenez struggled last season, but the Indians are banking on him returning to his 2010 season in which he won 19 games, struck out 214 batter with a 2.88 ERA.
Prospect to watch: SP Zach McAllister. Most of the top prospects have been dealt away the past few years, but McAllister had a good year at AAA last year and could break into the rotation later this year.
The Tigers are stacked from top to bottom this year, following a year in which they won 95 games, had the Cy Young winner and MVP (Both were SP Justin Verlander). The team added Prince Fielder and his 38 home runs to Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, Delmon Young, Austin Jackson and more...all great players. Cabrera hit .344 with 30 homers last year without protection in the lineup. This team is incredible from top to bottom, and we haven't even looked at the pitchers.
Verlander is the class, and the best pitcher in the game right now. He is joined by first round picks Jacob Turner, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer. The fifth pitcher in the rotation, Doug Fister was acquired from Seattle during the season and turned in a spectacular 8-1 record with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts after he was acquired. The Tigers are head and shoulders above every team in the division, there's no contest.
Prospect to watch: 3B Nick Castellanos. Castellanos is a few years away from the Majors, but he's not really needed. He just turned 20 and should be in High-A this year, but he'll be a welcome addition in a few years.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals are the Pittsburgh Pirates of the American League, just a year or two ahead of them. They have a great number of extremely talented, young players and are very close to breaking out into a great team. Their lineup boasts 5 former first round picks in 1B Billy Butler, 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, OF Alex Gordon and OF Jeff Francoeur.
The pitching has former first round picks Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar as well as Danny Duffy who was one of their top pitching prospects last year. The Royals have an extremely bright future, with even more prospects on their way up in the coming years.
Prospect to watch: OF Wil Myers. Myers was drafted as a catcher, but is one of the top outfield prospects. Myers is a year away from the team, but will be another great addition when he shows up.
The Twins were one of the worst teams in the league last year, and it wont get much better this year. A slight improvement could arise if former MVP's Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau return to where they previously were. The team added former Pirates C Ryan Doumit and former Athletic OF Josh Willingham, which gives them an improved offense.
The pitching staff could be good this year, or they could fall flat. Scott Baker had a 3.14 ERA last year, Jason Marquis had a 3.95 EAR with Washington, but the ace of the staff Francisco Liriano had a down year last season, and has seemed to have alternating good and bad seasons each of the past 4 years, so he could be on the way up this year.
Prospect to watch: OF Joe Benson. Benson spent last year at AA, hitting .285 with 16 homers.
Next week is the AL West and then we'll have the predictions for the season!