Tag Archives: bullpen

2011 American League Central Previews- Royals

Today’s Focus: Kansas City Royals

The biggest news for the Royals this offseason is the loss of Zack Greinke. In return the Royals received Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress. Alcides Escobar is not only a HUGE defensive upgrade, he can also be a terror on the base paths and is a good contact hitter. Don’t let the 14 SB over the past two years fool you, anyone would have trouble stealing a base from the 8th spot in a National League lineup. He may be their top candidate for leadoff even though he can’t draw a walk. Lorenzo Cain also brings speed to the lineup but his Major League sample size is too small for us to make any solid predictions. Jeremy Jeffress looks to make an immediate impact in the bullpen while hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.

Billy Butler locked in at the 3 spot in the order. It will be interesting to see how the Royals handle the Eric Hosmer call up. The team would not have room for Hosmer, Butler and Kila Ka’aihue. Spring training will have to play out before we decide the odd man out in the 2B/3B situation. I would start Mike Aviles at 2B and Wilson Betemit at 3B until Mike Moustakas is ready, leaving Chris Getz the odd man out. Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon and a combination of Lorenzo Cain/Melky Cabrera will man the outfield.

The starting rotation for the Royals are nothing more than place-holders for the prospects waiting to arrive. Luke Hochevar is the staff ace (Hochevar a former #1 pick himself), followed by Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies and probably Vin Mazzaro. The bullpen is pretty right-handed unless Tim Collins makes the team. Robinson Tejeda is still the set-up man for Joakim Soria.

Notable Pick Ups: Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Jeremy Jeffress, Vin Mazzaro, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francis

Notable Losses: Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brian Bannister, Gill Meche

Look for the Royals and their revitalized lineup to pass the Cleveland Indians for 4th place in the A.L. Central in 2011.

American League Central Previews- Tigers

Today’s Focus: Detroit Tigers

The additions of Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit are huge. They also have a guy named Miguel Cabrera who will see more strikes with VMart hitting behind him. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer will be the best 1-2 starters in the A.L. Central. Their bullpen is a strength with Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Daniel Schlereth, Joel Zumaya and Brad Thomas. Is this enough for the Tigers to compete in 2011?

Brad Penny is a good add for the back-end of the rotation. The only dilemma I see is Brad Penny and Rick Porcello are both ground ball pitchers. This will have a negative affect on the Tigers leaky infield defense. Carlos Guillen has lost his range and Jhonny Peralta never had any. Miguel has never been a great defender.

As for the lineup, you have about five guys who should be penciled in at DH and most of team is right-handed. What happens when the injury-prone Brandon Inge goes down? Do you move the injury-prone Carlos Guillen to 3rd? Carlos Guillen may not be back until May. Scott Sizemore and Will Rhymes will platoon at 2B until he returns.

Notable Losses: Armando Galarraga, Johnny Damon, Gerald Laird, Jeremy Bonderman

Notable Pick Ups: Brad Penny, Victor Martinez, Joaquin Benoit

This team seems to have too many aging veterans and injury concerns for my liking. Expect them to finish 3rd in the Central again finishing behind the White Sox and Twins.

American League Central Previews- Twins

Today’s Focus: Minnesota Twins

The Twins added speed to the lineup with the addition of Tsuyoshi Nishioka at SS. They will also be starting Alexi Casilla at 2B with the departure of Orlando Hudson. Other than that, it looks like the rest of the Minnesota’s offensive regulars will be returning in 2011.

In 2010, they had much more depth in the infield and bullpen which helped them tremendously down the stretch. Nick Punto played 2B, 3B, SS, and all 3 outfield spots in 2010 and he played them very well. He was arguably their best defender.

Morneau still has not begun baseball-related activities. Joe Nathan is making good progress from surgery last March. Nathan should be good to go to start the season but may be limited early. Michael Cuddyer (arthroscopic right knee surgery), Joe Mauer (left knee surgery), Scott Baker (right elbow surgery), Nick Blackburn (right elbow surgery) and Jason Repko (left thumb surgery), should all be ready to go by Spring Training.

The team was able to resign Carl Pavano, Jim Thome and Francisco Liriano. Liriano signed for a one year deal to avoid arbitration. Liriano is said to have wanted a 3 year $39 million contract. There is a possibility that Liriano will be traded. That leaves only Delmon Young left to sign. After Delmon Young signs, the Twins will be done this offseason putting their payroll around $110 million.

Notable Losses: J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Nick Punto

Notable Pick Ups: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Dusty Hughes

If the Twins trade Francisco Liriano their rotation would look like, 1) Carl Pavano, 2) Scott Baker, 3) Brian Duensing, 4) Kevin Slowey, 5) Nick Blackburn. The White Sox are going to give them a run for their money even if they kept Liriano. Their reign at the top of the A.L. Central will come to an end this year.