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AL Central Updates

By Jake Lunemann
Week one has wrapped up and we can now peer into what the division race in the American League Central is looking like.

1. Kansas City Royals
I am a huge fan of 3/5 of the Royals starting rotation and had the chance to take a look at the game tape of both Gil Meche and Zach Grienke's starts. Meche is more of a known commodity and he looks to be right where one would expect him to be. It is also nice to see him off to a good start after getting roughed up last year in the month of April. Grienke on the other hand showed better poise and control and should be a breakout player this year if he can stay healthy. The offense on this team will be streaky at best so expect Joakim Soria to get plenty more save opportunities the rest of the way out.

1a. Chicago White Sox
Earlier this evening the White Sox lost Dewayne Wise for a while when he went down with a separated shoulder. It remains to be seen how long he is out but Brian Anderson looks to be the fill in and Anderson is a poor man's Scott Posednik (current edition). The starters looked alright with the exception of Jose Contreras who left plenty of pitches up in the zone which will be lethal to the White Sox and their defense which is mediocre at best. This team needs to stay extremely healthy to stay in contention and needs Gordon Beckham to come in midseason to take over for an overmatched Chris Getz.

3. Detroit Tigers
This team has rolled out both the best half of a lineup AND the worst half of a lineup in the league. The top of the lineup features Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Magglio Ordonez, and Miguel Cabrera while the bottom pukes out Gerald Laird, Brandon Inge (don't believe the hype), Adam Everett, and Josh Anderson. If you were looking for a difference in the two groups, one swings oak trees, the other, toothpicks. For the Tigers to get going they need their bullpen to outperform all expections times triplicate. Do not be surprised if Nate Robertson and Juan Rincon are out of a job by midseason.

4. Minnesota Twins
Our Minnesota Twins have shown both flashes of brilliance and the growing pains of youth in the past week. Our top of the rotation guys (Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano) have yet to show what they are capable of but I expect both of them to settle down soon enough. Scott Baker should be back in the rotation this week but it remains to be seen which pitcher will be sent down. After charting R.A. Dickey's start this week, I think he may be worthwhile to keep around as a long reliever/spot starter in the event of injuries. Best case scenerio he could be like Tony Fiore circa 2002 with a full beard instead of just the goatee. My personal favorite player on the team, Jason Kubel, has stepped up his production with Mauer still out of the lineup. Barring injury, he should reach at least 25 home runs this year and around 85 RBIs. Jose Morales has gotten some playing time thus far and should continue to see at least half of the playing time until Mauer gets back. He is very capable at the plate and so-so behind it. He is a nice fill in for the time being and will probably prove to be Mike Redmond's replacement eventually.

5. Cleveland Indians
Many experts picked the Indians to win the division and they are doing everything in their power to show how wrong that was. While Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez are off to hot starts it has not translated into wins thanks to zero Indian starters leaving week one with an ERA under 6.00. With the exception of Masa Kobayashi, the entire pitching staff has looked like a complete train wreck. For them to have a competitive season they need Fausto Carmona and Cliff Lee to have great years and for one of the other starters to have an above average year as well. The bullpen is very thin so the starters will need to go deeper into games whenever possible.

Obviously the season still has 173 days left in it and many things can and will happen but this is a reading of how they are doing so far. I will try to update this at least twice a month with a few other articles staggered in between when I take a look at a certain player or team.

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