One month. Can you feel the excitement? The baseball world begins again in one month. Yes, we have four teams still alive in the NFL. We have the question about Carmelo Anthony and his trade. The NHL and NBA are going strong. College Basketball has three undefeated teams. But, the eight and a half months that we call baseball season is starting very soon.
So, over the past couple of weeks I have discussed the American League and National League West Divisions. I posed one question for each team for the upcoming season. This week, I will turn my focus to the American League Central Division. This is a division that will be very competitive between three of the teams, while two will be rebuilding…again.
So, here are The Big Orange Guy’s Top 5 Questions of the American League Central.
#1 – Can the Twins stay healthy? That is the $100 million dollar question. Joe Mauer missed 25 games last year and Justin Morneau missed 81. Closer Joe Nathan sat out the entire season with an arm injury. Even Jim Thome missed some time. These injuries did not keep the Twins from winning the division in 2010, but with all hands on deck for the entire season, could they have had a better record and then had home field advantage throughout the playoffs? They had a winning percentage of .650 at Target Field. Who knows what could have happened if the Twins were healthy all year. So, my first question is, will the Twins be able to remain healthy in 2011?
#2 – What is next for the Royals after the Greinke trade? Greinke was traded for four young players. Gil Meche retired. Brian Bannister went to Japan. This is a team with very few players older than 30 years old. It is a team with only a few players with more than three years of major league experience. It is a team that may have a payroll under $50 million. Two players received in the Greinke trade may be in the starting lineup before the end of the season. It will be a young team. It will be an athletic team. It will be a team led by Ned Yost who knows he will not win a division in 2011. His role will be to teach the young players how to play the game the right way and to build to the future. But for now, why should the people of Kansas City root for the Royals in 2011?
#3 – How will Adam Dunn affect the rest of the White Sox lineup? For the Washington Nationals, Dunn has hit 38 home runs and driven in an average of 104 runs over the past two seasons. Except in 2003, he has played in nearly every game during each season, never missing more than 10 games. He is a genuine power hitter, but has a career average of .250 and strikes out a lot. Ozzie Guillen’s team has power hitters with Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios. There are enough solid batters within the Sox lineup to protect one another. This is a team that finished second last year in the American League Central, six games back. Will Dunn be worth six games in the lineup? Will he help improve the 28-21 record the 2010 White Sox had in one-run games? Will he help the 23-20 record in blowouts? The 2010 Sox had a 28-28 record in August and September. Will Dunn help that improve? What will the Dunn affect be?
#4 – Will Grady Sizemore finish 2011 as a member of the Cleveland Indians? In 2011, Grady Sizemore will make $7.5 million. He is a 27 year old outfielder that played only 139 games in 2009 and 2010 with various injuries, including knee micro-fracture surgery. Before his injuries, Sizemore was an all-star three years in a row, top 12 in the MVP voting and won two gold gloves. He hit between 24 and 33 home runs during those three years, with batting averages around .280. If he recovers from his injury, he may once again regain his previous all-star form. If he does, what purpose will he have for a team that is rebuilding? The Indians will have a payroll of approximately $50 million this season and Sizemore makes up more than 10% of that amount. If he regains his form, he will be trade bait for young pitchers and the future all-stars of the American League. Mid-season injuries will once again have teams calling the Indians for Grady Sizemore. The question is, will they trade him? On a side note, Travis Hafner is another $13 million waiting to be traded.
#5 – Do the Detroit Tigers have enough pitching to win the American League Central? We all know that the Tigers have hitting. Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson and others form a formidable lineup. However, do they have enough arms to survive in the strong division? With the starting rotation including Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Armando Gallaraga and Brad Penny can they win this division? They have Joel Zumaya and Jose Valverde in the bullpen. They have strong pitchers, but these pitchers were only good enough to bring the Tigers a third place finish. So, we will sit and watch the Tigers move forward and push through the American League Central and will wonder if they have the arms to succeed. Will they?
That is all for this week. Stay safe all and I will see you on the other side.
Tags: Big Orange Guy's Top 5, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Victor Martinez