The Tigers are hellbent on winning a World Series before Mike Illitch dies, and judging from his appearance when they won the American League last year, they don’t have long. Adding Torii Hunter should help. Getting Victor Martinez back from a year-long injury should help. Harnessing rookie closer-in-waiting Bruce Rondon’s 103-mph gas should help. Having starters Anibal Sanchez (acquired in a mid-season trade last year) and Doug Fister (injuries) for full seasons should help. Installing a Marlboro vending machine in the dugout for manager Jim Leyland should, uh, help? But nothing will help more than playing in the AL Central.
2013 Prediction: 95-67
Last Year: 88-74
The Royals made a questionable trade, surrendering top prospect Wil Myers and others for one or two years of James Shields and a slightly above average starter in Wade Davis. That said, the move improves their pitching significantly this year, and that could be significant in this division. If Eric Hosmer regains his form while Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas continue to improve, this lineup should be more than capable. Add in Billy Butler’s solid production, dynamic Lorenzo Cain in center field and budding star Salvador Perez behind the plate, and KC may surprise a few folks this year. A horrid start last year squashed any hopes of contention, but the Royals were decent after that. And hey, they’ve been the best team in spring training this year, which should count for something, right? Don’t expect a division title, but a wild card berth is not out of the question.
2013 Prediction: 85-77
Last Year: 72-90
Adam Dunn remembered how to hit last year, and Robin Ventura learned how to manage. And AJ Pierzynski learned how to use PEDs. (Hey! You can’t say that!) Ok. Strike that from the record, please. In any event, Pierzynski and his strangely improved power numbers are gone, and the White Sox have question marks at catcher, second base, third base and (as usual) in the broadcast booth. Can someone just make Hawk Harrelson disappear already? Chicago’s big free agent signing was Jeff Keppinger, which was great for Mrs. Keppinger and their kids but not so great for White Sox fans. The Sox rotation looks like Chris Sale and some iffiness. Expect a step backward this year as other teams in the division have improved more.
2013 Prediction: 80-82
Last Year: 85-77
Has Terry Francona’s star has fallen so far that he had no choice but to accept a job managing the Indians? Apparently it has. Depending how you view things, Cleveland either was fortunate that Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn fell into their laps this offseason, or unfortunate that they overpaid for two players who aren’t likely to justify their contracts. More significantly, though, neither of them can pitch. The Indians will be better, but unfortunately in the same way that 98 Degrees was better than New Kids on the Block.
2013 Prediction: 78-84
Last Year: 68-94
The Twins are rumored to be desperately trying to void their lease at Target Field and move back into the Metrodome, where it seems they left all their talent and voodoo-like ability to win games. Wait, that’s not true? Well, it should be. Target Field has been a disaster recently for the Twins, and it doesn’t help that most of their players suck, too. They have some good young hitters, but trading away both of their speedy centerfielders – Ben Revere and Denard Span – for pitching that won’t help them this year spells another long season for Ron Gardenhire.
2013 Prediction: 71-91
Last Year: 66-96