FanIQ AL Central Preview

The Tigers Once Again Look Like the Class of the AL Central [FanIQ AL Central Preview]

3/12/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - FanIQ AL Central PreviewCleveland Indians
 
Projected Lineup
 
CF Michael Bourn
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
2B Jason Kipnis
1B Nick Swisher
C Carlos Santana
DH Mark Reynolds
LF Michael Brantley
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
RF Drew Stubbs
 
Projected Rotation
 
RHP Justin Masterson
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
RHP Brett Myers
RHP Zack McAllister
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
 
Closer: RHP Chris Perez
 
Key Losses: OF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, 3B Jack Hannahan, RHP Roberto Hernandez, OF Grady Sizemore
 
Sometimes things work out and a team gets an opportunity to make big moves earlier than expected. In a vacuum, giving big money to Nick Swisher didn’t make any sense, but in conjunction with everything else, the result in an intriguing team. The Indians also turned soon to be free agent Choo into Drew Stubbs, and more importantly, pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, the 3rd pick in the 2011 draft. The team then took advantage of the free agent compensation rules, and their protected top 10 pick, to sign Michael Bourn at a very reasonable 4 years, $48 million price. He’ll play center and lead things off. Add Mark Reynolds at his natural position and this looks like a much better offense than the one that was 13th in the AL in 2012, particularly if the young core up the middle of Santana and Kipnis take another step forward.
 
The pitching should also be improved, but that’s mostly by default. The Indians were last in the AL in runs allowed, and the rotation shows why. Justin Masterson was the nominal ace and still is, but in 2012 his walk and home run rates went up, and the result was an ERA of almost 5. Ubaldo Jimenez, meanwhile, is a flat out mess. His walk rate was a career high, he led the league in wild pitches, and his ERA subsequently ballooned to 5.40 his first full year in Cleveland. He is obviously a huge question mark. The desperation to upgrade the rotation showed in the offseason, as the Indians signed Brett Myers with the intention of putting him back to starting, and, even more insane, signing Dice-K. Bauer should help, but he’s still a rookie and hasn’t yet shown control at the big league level.
 
Still, despite everything, Cleveland was able to accelerate their rebuild using what was available to them. I’m bullish that Masterson can bounce back a little, and that Myers and McAlister can stabilize the rotation until Bauer is ready. That plus a new look offensive attack means that while the Indians aren’t in the same league as the Tigers or even the White Sox yet, they’ll be much improved from last year’s 68 win season.
 
Projected Record: 80-82
 
Down on the Farm: The one negative in Cleveland’s rebuild is that their farm system isn’t very strong right now. Bauer for now is the top prize, followed by SS Francisco Lindor, the 8th pick in the 2011 draft. Lindor held his own at 18 in the A-ball last year, which was encouraging, but he has a long way to go.
 
Kansas City RoyalsBlog Photo - FanIQ AL Central Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
LF Alex Gordon
SS Alcides Escobar
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Jeff Francoeur
CF Lorenzo Cain
2B Chris Getz/Johnny Giavotella
 
Projected Rotation
 
RHP James Shields
RHP Jeremy Guthrie
RHP Ervin Santana
RHP Wade Davis
LHP Bruce Chen
 
Closer: RHP Greg Holland
 
Key Losses: OF Wil Myers, RP Joakim Soria, SP  Jake Odorizzi, RP Jeremy Jeffress
 
When to go all-in is possibly the most important decision a mid or small-market GM can make. Two teams that did not contend in 2012 decided to go all-in this offseason. One of them was Toronto, the other Kansas City. For the Royals, much of this season depends on one move: the trade of top prospect Wil Myers (plus three other prospects) for James Shields (and Wade Davis). Shields throws over 200 innings every year with good peripherals, but his career road ERA is 4.54. He’ll easily be their best starter, but it’s not clear if he can be a true ace. He’ll need to be though, as you can see by the rest of that rotation. Guthrie was much better in KC than in Colorado but is miscast as the #2, Santana was awful last year, Davis is being moved to the rotation after being in the pen in Tampa, and I don’t really know how Chen keeps hanging around.
 
Adding to the issues of the Myers trade was that he could’ve slotted in right field and been an immediate upgrade from Jeff Francoeur, who once again showed he’s not an everyday caliber bat. Despite Francoeur’s .287 OBP last year, he’s back, but at least he’s the only guy in this lineup on the decline. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon built on past success and are both solid, while the rest of the lineup has plenty of room and potential for improvement. Chief among them is Hosmer, who had a terrible 2012 due to a fixable mechanical issue, but also a ridiculously low and unlucky .255 BABIP. He still has star potential. A healthy Perez at catcher would also help tremendously. Perez doesn’t walk, but he has very good power for a catcher and good defense. Moustakas also still has plenty of upside despite a disappointing .242/.296/.412 line last year, while Escobar and Cain should both provide fine defense and acceptable bats and maybe more up the middle.
 
The lineup still has a high ceiling, but still also has a floor similar to 2012’s results, when they were 12th in the AL in scoring. The lineup will need to hit that ceiling to make up for the rotation after Shields. It’s still an open question as to if and when The Process will finally yield results, but at this point, it’s likely that Kansas City went all-in too soon.
 
Projected Record: 76-86
 
Down on the Farm: Graduations and trades have weakened the top of this system, but there’s still a good bit of depth. The most famous remaining prospect is OF Bubba Starling, their first rounder in 2011 who is still quite raw. LHP John Lamb is returning from Tommy John surgery and could be in Kansas City after the All-Star Break.

What of the Twins? Read on to find out.
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3/16/13   |   huskerdoug2009   |   2790 respect

Nebraska has announced after a "healthy" donation that they are changing the name of their practice facility to the Alex Gordon Training Facility.
http://journalstar.com/sports/huskers/life-in-the-red/husker-extension-with-adidas-ok-d-by-regents/article_d81aad6c-8da4-11e2-8713-0019bb2963f4.html

3/13/13   |   Sharp Square   |   11941 respect

huskerdoug2009 wrote:
Interested to see how close to 100% Victor Martinez will be when the season starts.  Like the Tigers need more offense, however adding him to Miguel and Prince will make it hard to pitch around all of them.  I also am waiting for Alex Gordon to live up to the hype he had here at Nebraska.  He has been a good player, but wouldn't exactly say great since making it to the Royals everyday lineup in 2007.   



If Vic Martinez is indeed healhy all season that Tigers offense could be real real scary !  Talk about a middle of the order murderers row surprise

3/13/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

huskerdoug2009 wrote:
Interested to see how close to 100% Victor Martinez will be when the season starts.  Like the Tigers need more offense, however adding him to Miguel and Prince will make it hard to pitch around all of them.  I also am waiting for Alex Gordon to live up to the hype he had here at Nebraska.  He has been a good player, but wouldn't exactly say great since making it to the Royals everyday lineup in 2007.   

The "Alex Gordon is the next George Brett" thing will never happen. However...

In 2011, he broke out and hit .303/.376/.502 and won a Gold Glove. In 2012, he backed that up with a .294/.368/.455, led the league in doubles, and won another Gold Glove. By WAR, he's been a 4-5 win player these last two seasons, and at 29, he's right in his prime. He's a damn good player, and when I said he was "solid" in the piece, I was probably underrating him.

3/13/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Sharp Square wrote:

Well done gearhead was a solid read.

I think Cleveland has a real good shot to finish ahead of the wsox this year.  Stubbs has a nice speed/power mix if he can just make a little more contact and the kid Chisenhall is a nice bat who could end up bringing some solid numbers to lineup , if they can get even some moderately consistent starts from Masterson and Jimenez this year with Bauer pitching in some mid season on they could put together a nice season. Plus i can see the wsox maybe backing up some this season as they have a lot of question marks. 

For some reason the Royals seem like an interesting team to watch this season to me. The mix of good young talent at the plate and now some veteran arms gotta figure they could get in a few solid winning streaks and at least be somewhat of a scrappy team to watch even if they dont break .500. 

Yeah, I had a whale of time picking between Chicago, Cleveland, and KC in those 2-4 spots. There's something about the White Sox I don't like, and I decided to be conservative with the other two. That's how I ended up where I ended up. I doubt I'll get any of them right.

The Royals are fascinating. I would like to see them play well and get in contention.

3/13/13   |   SusanVette   |   8748 respect

 The Detroit Tigers today have released Brennan Boesch. Ugh. That didn't make my day.

3/13/13   |   huskerdoug2009   |   2790 respect

Interested to see how close to 100% Victor Martinez will be when the season starts.  Like the Tigers need more offense, however adding him to Miguel and Prince will make it hard to pitch around all of them.  I also am waiting for Alex Gordon to live up to the hype he had here at Nebraska.  He has been a good player, but wouldn't exactly say great since making it to the Royals everyday lineup in 2007.   

3/12/13   |   Sharp Square   |   11941 respect


Well done gearhead was a solid read.

I think Cleveland has a real good shot to finish ahead of the wsox this year.  Stubbs has a nice speed/power mix if he can just make a little more contact and the kid Chisenhall is a nice bat who could end up bringing some solid numbers to lineup , if they can get even some moderately consistent starts from Masterson and Jimenez this year with Bauer pitching in some mid season on they could put together a nice season. Plus i can see the wsox maybe backing up some this season as they have a lot of question marks. 

For some reason the Royals seem like an interesting team to watch this season to me. The mix of good young talent at the plate and now some veteran arms gotta figure they could get in a few solid winning streaks and at least be somewhat of a scrappy team to watch even if they dont break .500. 

3/12/13   |   mcleodglen   |   32 respect

so far so good, but i won't get excited for too long.