Monday, February 18, 2008

AL Central: At A Glance.

Cleveland Indians:
Manager: Eric Wedge - 5th season
Last Season: 96-66, 1st place
Training Site: Winter Haven, FL.
Park: Chain of Lakes Park
He's Here: RHP Masahide Kobayashi, INF Jamey Carroll, RHP Jorge Julio
He's Outta Here: OF Kenny Lofton, OF Trot Nixon, RHP Jason Davis

Outlook: Here's a plus, The Indians are bringing back virually their entire roster from last season when they ran away with the rugged AL Central, knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs and had Boston down 3-1 in the ALCS before losing 3 straight games. Wedge's greatest challenge will be getting his young club to the next level. Ace C.C. Sabathia, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, is back and may soon have a new contract. Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey and Cliff Lee are in the competition for the #5 starter's spot.

Detroit Tigers:
Manager: Jim Leyland - 3rd season
Last Season: 88-74, 2nd place
Training Site: Lakeland, FL.
Park: Joker Marchant Stadium
He's Here: 3B Miguel Cabrera, SS Edgar Renteria, OF Jacque Jones, LHP Dontrelle Willis
He's Outta Here: 1B Sean Casay, INF Omar Infante, LHP Andrew Miller, OF Cameron Maybin

Outlook: The Tigers are title contenders again. Detroit followed a 2006 World Series appearance by fighting for a playoff apot deep into last season. They want more this year. In the first major deal of the off-season, the Tigers acquired All-Stars Cabrera and Willis from Florida, trading top prospects Maybin and Miller. GM Dave Dombrowski also got Renteria and Jones, and resigned C Ivan Rodriguez, LHP Kenny Rogers and closer Todd Jones.

Minnesota Twins:
Manager: Ron Gardenhire - 7th season
Last Season: 79-83, 3rd place
Training Site: Fort Myers, FL.
Park: Hammond Stadium
He's Here: OF Delmon Young, 3B Mike Lamb, SS Adam Everett, SS/2B Brendan Harris, CF Carlos Gomez, OF Jason Pridie, RHP Phil Humber, OF Craig Monroe
He's Outta Here: LHP Johan Santana, CF Torii Hunter, RHP Carlos Silva, SS Jason Barlett, RHP Matt Garza, OF Lew Ford, OF Randell White, OF Jason Tyner, INF Luis Rodriuez

Outlook: The Twins pulled off the long awaited trade of 2-time Cy Young Award winner Santana to the Mets. He leaves a huge hole in the rotation. 2006 All-Star Francisco Liriano may be back, provided he's strong enough after his Tommy John procedure nearly 17 months ago. The rotation is a question as a handful of unproven young hurlers fight for the five spots. Closer Joe Nathan anchors a good bullpen. Hunter is gone to the Angels but the team got Young from the Rays. The Rookie of the Year runner-up could have an impact on what was a tired lineup last year. Gomez, who came over in the Santana trade, is the front-runner to lead off and play center.

Chicago White Sox:
Manager: Ozzie Guillen - 5th season
Last Season: 72-90, 4th place
Training Site: Tucson, AZ.
Park: Tucson Electric Park
He's Here: SS Orlando Cabrera, Of Nick Swisher, RHP Scott Linebrink, RHP Octavio Dotel, OF Carlos Quentin, OF Alexel Ramirez
He's Outta Here: RHP Jon Garland, OF Scott Podsednik

Outlook: The White Sox missed making major trades in the off-season. Still, they added Linebrink and Dotel to a bullpen that was 19-25 with a 5.49 ERA and 23 blown saves for a bridge betwee the starters and closer Bobby Jenks. There's a logjam at thirdbase, where Josh Fields showed promise as a rookie while Joe Crede missed most of last season with a back injury.

Kansas City Royals:
Manager: Trey Hillman - 1st season
Last Season: 69-93, 5th place
Training Site: Surprise, AZ.
Park: Surprise Stadium
He's Here: OF Jose Guillen, RHP Brett Tomko, RHP Yasuhiko Yabuta, LHP Ron Mahay, C Miguel Olivo, INF Alberto Callaspo, RHP Hideo Nomo, RHP Brain Lawernce, LHP Chin-hui Taso
He's Outta Here: Manager Buddy Bell, DH Mike Sweeney, OF Emil Brown, Of Reggie Sanders, C Jason LaRue, LHP Odalis Perez, RHP David Riske, RHP Scoot Elarton, RHP Billy Buckner

Outlook: Hillman is the big change. He's the only big-league manager this year who didn't coach or play in the majors. He spent years managing in the Yankees' minor league system and for the past five season was the highly successful manager of Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters. He inherts a young team that will be trying to escape four straight last place finishes in the tough AL Central. Last season the Royals had four impact rookies; RHP Joakim Soria led the club with 17 saves, RHP Brian Bannister led the team with 12 wins, 3B Alex Gordon led AL rookies with 55 extra base hits and DH/1B Billy Butler hit .292 at age 21.

Spring Training: At A Glance.
AL East: At A Glance
NL East: At A Glance.
NL West: At A Glance.