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The AL Central is a perpetual division of mystery here on The Box; I donít think anyone has ever come reasonably close to predicting an order of finish that was remotely correct. For this I mostly blame the White Sox, and all indications are they may mess it up again, as they seem intent on both rebuilding and contending at the same time. Still, this is a pretty exciting time for a division thatís been in the cellar for a while. The Tigers were a big player in the off-season, signing Prince Fielder. The Royals are starting to graduate players from what was very recently the Majors best farm system, and Cleveland has some high upside talent to go along with a few grizzled veterans. That just leaves the Twins, which may be for the best. Letís take a look.



Teams in order of 2011 finish.

Detroit Tigers
95-67 (787 RS, 711 RA)

The 2011 Tigers had the second fewest wins of any division leader (pipped by the DíBacks by a single game) and yet still managed to win the division going away, finishing 15 games ahead of the Cleveland Clevelands. So, yeah, not such a strong division in the past. In any case, the Tigers retain the core of their team, and add an impact bat in Prince Fielder, making the club one of the most top heavy in the bigs Ė they had four 5 WAR players in 2011, with Alex Avila missing by a 1/10th of a win and with ace Justin Verlander and 1B Miguel Cabrera each posting better than a 7 WAR. As you may notice, however, the club now has two rotund slugging first baggers, and unless they can convince their opponents to bat exclusively from the left side that isnít going to work out so well. Miguel Cabrera drew the short straw and is supposed to take over third base, a position he last played regularly (and very poorly) in 2007. Cabrera is listed generously at 6í4, 240 lbs, and is about as mobile as an insert bad sportswriter pun here. The team doesnít want to slot either Miggy or Prince into the DH spot occupied last season by Victor Martinez, who will miss 2012 with an ACL tear, preferring to go with a DH by committee approach. This is in part, and I am actually writing these words, to appease Delmon Young, the starting left fielder, another player not know for his defense. With Jhonny Peralta, the fourth of the Tigers aforementioned five win players, an average defender at best at short, the Tigers have the potential to run out a nearly catastrophic defense. Austin Jackson may save the day in CF as he posted big fielding numbers last year, but second base base will likely also be a weakness, as leading contender Ryan Rayburn, who got the bulk of the time at second last year, has a -24 UZR/150 in 777 career innings at second, and the other contender, Brandon Inge, has never played the position in the majors.

If you're going to punt on defense though the Tigers at least have a pretty good staff for that. Justin Verlander was one of the best two starters in the AL last year, winning the Cy Young, and he is followed by the hard throwing Max Scherzer, the mid-season acquisition Doug Fister, former top prospect Rick Porcello, and current top prospect Jacob Turner. The Tigers posted a 4.10 ERA from their starters last year, good for the top half of the league, but figure to improve thanks to a full year from Fister and the addition of Turner.

Key Additions: Prince Fielder 1B, Octavio Dotel RP, Gerald Laird C
Key Subtractions: Magglio Ordonez RF, Carlos Guillen INF, Brad Penny SP

Cleveland Clevelands

80-82 (704 RS, 760 RA)

Cleveland started 2011 like gangbusters, leading the division as late as the end of July, and they were within two games of the Tigers come the trade deadline. Despite this they weren't, however, a particularly good team, and the moves they made to try to put themselves over the top, including shipping out Drew Pomeranz and three other players for Ubaldo Jiminez, mostly backfired. The club isnít actually in bad shape going into 2012 though, possessing an array of exciting, and young, major league talent, along with some grizzled, and oft-injured, veterans.

 Jason Kipnis, the starting second baseman, had a strong, if not quite Lawrie-an, debut in 2011, hitting .272/.333/.507 in 150 PA. While his minor league numbers donít indicate upside quite that high, he does draw a few walks and hit for a bit of pop, and is an outside 20-20 threat at the age of 25. Meanwhile Carlos Santana, only a year older, shook off the effects of an ugly plate crash at Fenway in 2010 and rebounded with a strong season split between first and catcher. He walked in almost 15% of his at bats and hit 27 home runs, with only a poor BABIP (.263) keeping him from being a superstar, presuming he continues to catch more than he plays first base. Asdrubal Cabrera got a bit homer lucky in 2011, knocking 25 of them over the wall, but even as a limited defender promises a fair amount of upside. Michael Brantley, who will start in centre in place of the-injured-Grady-Sizemore, is also on the right side of the aging curve, and is developing into a leadoff man who can walk a bit and steal a base (although he doesnít hit for any power). Shin-Soo Choo, possibly my favourite player in baseball, is hopefully recovered from thumb and back injuries that stifled him for most of 2011. The thirty year-old right fielder also avoided military service in South Korea after helping his country win the Asian Games in 2010. Pronk is also still around, and Casey Kotchman is in to assume first base duties. Matt LaPorta, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson also lurk in the background.

If the lineup is interesting, the rotation is a bit of a question mark. Justin Masterson finally mastered left handed hitters in 2011 and is poised for a big year at age 27. Ubaldo Jiminez posted similar peripherals to his outstanding 2010 but had luck catch up to him; I wouldnít count him out this year consequently. After that things thin out considerably. Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez is on the restricted list after it came out that he was three years older/not the same person as previously stated; itís unclear if heíll pitch in the major leagues again. Carlos Carrasco, who was decent in 2011, is out for at least most of the year with Tommy John surgery; Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin and Kevin Slowey round out the prospective rotation.

Key Additions: Casey Kotchman 1B, Derek Lowe SP, Kevin Slowey SP
Key Subtractions: Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez SP, Austin Kearns OF, Orlando Cabrera SS, Travis Buck OF

Chicago White Sox
79-83 (654 RS, 706 RA)

After talking about how the club wasnít going to rebuild, White Sox GM Kenny Williams unloaded key 2011 contributors Carlos Quentin and Segio Santos for essentially nothing and Nestor Molina, respectively; he also let Mark Buehrle go as a free agent and flirted with trading Gavin Floyd, to the Blue Jays apparently, and re-signed John Danks to a basically market rate long term deal. Also leaving the organization was outspoken skipper Ozzie Guillen, who ended up with the Florida Marlins. Robin Ventura, the long-time White Sox third baseman, now takes over as skipper despite the fact that his chief post-playing expertise has been as an occasional college baseball broadcaster. So, really, who knows what is going on in Chicago.

Whatever it is, it could get a bit ugly. The White Sox have, by a fair margin, the worst farm system in baseball, and a major league roster replete with badly aging veterans. Adam Dunn, Paul Konero and AJ Pierzynski figure to hit in the 3-7 holes in the lineup; Dunn is the young man of the group at 33 (Paul and AJ are 36), and heís coming off the worst season in baseball, essentially, in which he hit .159 in almost 500 plate appearances. While he does have strong secondary skills, he possess extremely negative defensive value, and conveniently has 3 years and $44 million left on his deal. If he bounces back it will basically be to adequate, for which $14 million this year is a bit much. Konerko is a relative bargain at $25 million over this year and the next Ė he can actually still hit, not that that will help the White Sox any. They figure to run out an outfield of Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo. De Aza is a 28 year old AAAA player, while Viciedo is only 23 this year and actually hit in AAA in 2011. The less said about Alex Rios the better. The pitching staff at least has depth, as the White Sox can run out a respectable five man rotation of Danks, Floyd, Jake Peavy, Phil Humber and Chris Sale, though most donít think Sale will hold up in the rotation. Former Jay Zach Stewart is also in the mix.

The White Sox may be able to stumble through 2012 without embarrassing themselves too much, but these are not going to be a pretty few years for Chicago, as they just do not have the talent to compete, even in the AL Central.

Key Additions: Kosuke Fukodome OF
Key Subtractions: Carlos Quentin OF, Sergio Santos RP, Jason Frasor RP, Mark Buehrle SP

Kansas City Royals
71-91 (730 RS, 762 RA)

 Thanks in part to being awful for most of the last decade, one brief run at a division crown aside, the Royals, like the Rays before them, are well stocked to field an exciting, and more importantly, good, major league team in the coming years, with as much young talent as this sentence has commas. After several years of solid but unspectacular production Alex Gordon put things together in a big way in 2011, posting the best season by a Royals position player since Carlos Beltran in 2003 with 6.9 fWAR Ė it is in fact the only 5 win season for a Royal since Beltran. Billy Butler had his second pretty good year in a row, though he is limited to a full-time DH role at this point so heíll need to be more than pretty good to have a large impact on the club. Meanwhile Eric Hosmer posted a .293/.334/.465 line during his age 22 rookie season, and profiles to have MVP race type ability with the stick. Mike Moustakas also held his own during his rookie season, rookie Lorenzo Cain, acquired in the Zach Grienke deal, should start in CF, while 25 year-old Johnny Giavotella, who hit .338 in Omaha over 500 PA but struggled in a 46 game call up, should get the nod at second base. Starting shotstop Alcides Escobar is in his fourth season but only 26 (and not good, to be fair), while Jeff Francoeur is, at least in our hearts, forever ageless.

The Royals pitching is a little further away than their hitting, and their rotation will feature a mish-mash of veteran pitchers, with a couple of young guys figuring to figure by the end of the season. Luke Hochevar is the nominal ace Ė he posted an ERA of 4.68 last year, though he did walk the fewest batters of his career, albeit along with the second lowest K rate. Jonathan Sanchez, acquired in the Melky Cabrera trade with the Giants, slots in as the number 2 man. Heís averaged almost 9.5 K/9 IP throughout his career... along with almost 5 walks. Heís not very hittable, but still struggles on account of all the free passes. Journeyman Bruce Chen had a decent year in 2011 and gets by with smoke and mirrors, while Felipe Paulino put things together after a trade from the Rockies last season. Aaron Crow was supposed to be the 5th starter, but after a potentially season ending arm injury to Joakim Soria will now stay in the bullpen, likely to close. Mike Montgomery is the clubís top pitching prospect, though he struggled in triple-A in 2011, though to be fair it is in the PCL; most of the Royals other top pitching prospects are at least a year away from really contributing.

Ultimately the Royals have too many holes to contend in 2012, as their offense features sinkholes like Escobar and Francoeur, as well as well as relatively unproven young players like Cain and catcher Brayan Pena.The rotation is not a strength, and while prospects like Wil Myers could have an impact, things shape up better for 2013 or 2014.

Key Additions: Jonathan Broxton RP, Jonathan Sanchez SP
Key Subtractions: Melky Cabrera OF, Jason Kendall C, Kyle Davies SP, Gil Meche SP,

Minnesota Twins
63-99 (619 RS, 804 RA)

Poor Minnesota. After finishing no worse than third in the division, and no worse than 79-83 (once) since 2002, 2011 was a disastrous year, as just about everyone was hurt, especially the M & M boys, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Morneau has been injured for much of the past two seasons and has lingering post-concussion symptoms; he may never be able to resume his career in the same way, to the point where he has talked about possibly retiring. Mauerís injuries were (hopefully) less permanent, but heís also 6í5Ē and has caught some 750 games in his career, so no potential injury is small.

The Twins problems go beyond those two players though, and figure to continue into 2012. The teamís best hitter in 2011, Michael Cuddyer, is gone to Colorado, while their second best hitter, Jason Kubel is now a Diamondback. Those were the only two Twins to post an OPS of .730 or better last year. The clubís defense, once a strong spot, has also fallen off dramatically. Josh Willingham and Jamey Carroll are new additions in right field and at shortstop; they can be generously categorized as poor and old. Ryan Doumit, another addition who will back up Mauer and probably see more action at catcher than a backup normally would, is also a defensive liability. Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla and Ben Revere round out the starting lineup, they are all reasonable defenders but don't profile to have much upside with the bat.

The pitching, as seems to be the perpetual case with the Twins, isnít bad, but isnít filled with any names that set the heart afluttering. Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis are pencilled in at the moment. However Pavano, Marquis and Blackburn donít strike anyone out, so unless Minnesota is able to convert balls into outs itís going to be another long and painful year.

Key Additions: Jason Marquis SP, Josh Willingham OF, Ryan Doumit C, Jamey Carroll INF, Joel Zumaya RP,
Key Subtractions: Michael Cuddyer OF, Jason Kubel OF, Joe Nathan RP,  Kevin Slowey SP,

Final Thoughts

It will take a minor act of God for the Tigers to not win the division this year, and 10 games is probably a reasonable handicap. The Royals and the Clevelands could push to finish above .500, though I think neither team is quiiiite there yet. It wouldn't suprise me if the Tigers won 95 games again, just given how many times they'll get to face their division; they have the best pitcher and two of the best three hitters in the division, as well as probably the best rotation and lineup overall. As we speak Justin Morneau is 3/30 in spring training; unless he and Joe Mauer starting performing like MVPs again the Twins season could be downright ugly.

Also, the White Sox are really amusing.

AL Central Preview 2012 | 39 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
whiterasta80 - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 02:55 PM EDT (#252981) #
Two of the best three hitters in the division?  Who is the other hitter, Konerko? I don't mean to be rude, I am legitimitely curious as to who would rank better than Prince or Miggy. I may be just missing someone obvious, but in my mind one could make a case that V-Mart is the third best hitter in the division when healthy.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 02:59 PM EDT (#252982) #
Acknowledging here l'auteur's racial sensitivity in refusing the commit to writing the (arguably) offensive nickname of the Clevelands. Still, teh clube has made it pretty clear it ain't never-ever gonna change!
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#252983) #
When I read the "two of three" comment, I assumed Mauer, but he is a dicey bet, as noted.
92-93 - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#252990) #
It's pretty obvious he was referring to Alex Rios.
rpriske - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#252994) #
I have taken to calling them the Cleveland Spiders.
robertdudek - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#252997) #
It's either Choo, Konerko or Mauer. Martinez IS hurt - we are not dealing with counterfactuals here.
robertdudek - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#252999) #
The key additions to the Twins include Zumaya, who is out for the year. Not much of an addition, I would say.
Glevin - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#253001) #
"It's either Choo, Konerko or Mauer. Martinez IS hurt - we are not dealing with counterfactuals here."

Yes, but you wouldn't say 2 of the best 3, you'd say "the best two hitters". It's like saying "Canada and Russia are 2 of the 3 largest countries in the world".

This is by far the easiest division to call. The Tigers are the best team by far and would have easily won the division even before they signed Fielder.
Anders - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#253010) #
Two of the best three hitters in the division? Who is the other hitter, Konerko? I don't mean to be rude, I am legitimitely curious as to who would rank better than Prince or Miggy. I may be just missing someone obvious, but in my mind one could make a case that V-Mart is the third best hitter in the division when healthy.

Yeah this was a bit casual, Fielder and Miggy are clearly the two best hitters in the division. I wrote this whole thing in a fugue, and I assume I was using hitter as short form for position player; there you could make an argument for Alex Gordon, who is not Prince's equal with the bat, but who grades out extremely well in the outfield (albeit LF). He of course has a much shorter track record. In any case, I would probably take Miguel and Prince 1-2.

John Northey - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 11:12 PM EDT (#253013) #
Cleveland's team has as racist a logo as possible IMO. Change the skin tone to black and watch the protests begin. The name itself is a name used due to an error centuries ago. IMO they should've gotten rid of the mascot decades ago and until they at least do that I agree with ignoring their preference for a team name.
whiterasta80 - Wednesday, March 21 2012 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#253014) #

Ah I wondered about Alex Gordon, who actually makes that discussion by WAR. Although I doubt he puts up almost 7 WAR ever again.

 

lexomatic - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 08:17 AM EDT (#253016) #
I would argue that Detroit has a good staff to punt defense - especially infield defense.
Verlander and Scherzer miss bats, but the other guys rely on contact and groundballs. It could get VERY ugly.
I don't think Cabrera gives up anything close to his offensive value defensively, so it works.
I could see a lot of those early 90s scores again: 11-7 type games.

Anders - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 08:28 AM EDT (#253017) #
Ah I wondered about Alex Gordon, who actually makes that discussion by WAR. Although I doubt he puts up almost 7 WAR ever again.

I do agree with you, on all counts, but I will add the caveat that Gordon did hit .303/.376/.502 while playing good defense at a tougher defensive position than Fielder. ZiPS sees Fielder being about 20 points of wOBA better in 2012, but Gordon is the better defender and baserunner. Like I said, I would probably still take Fielder - and hey if Alex Avila hits like that again in 2012 the Tigers might have the 3 best hitters in the division.

bpoz - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#253022) #
It does seem that Detroit will be picked by everyone to win the AL Central, probably for the next 2-4 years.
We will find out as the years unfold if this really happens. At least they should go into my 2-4 year time frame as one of the strongest favorites.
To add to this rosy picture, IMO they have a rich owner, lots of fans & again IMO smart enough FO personnel.

I love to talk baseball analysis. So winning a WS would be something to ponder.
By the All Star Break they should know who is a challenge to them and as well they can prorate a Win total to see if they are in the 95 Win area. They also have the benefit of easily avoiding the WC 1 game playoff & should be able to set up their rotation etc... And rest key players & injuries.

Being complacent could become an issue. Lack of meaningful games.
John Northey - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#253023) #
Detroit is a fun experiment this year. How bad can your defense be without causing a meltdown? The Mets of the mid-80's did something similar with Howard Johnson at SS often in spite of his being a mediocre third baseman defensively (iirc). The advantage Detroit has is being in a weak division without anyone appearing to be a serious contender to the throne.

However, don't forget that just one year ago the top 3 in the division were Minnesota (94 wins), ChiSox (88 wins), then Detroit (81 wins). Who knew the Twins would drop to 99 losses? The Tigers jumped by 14 wins and a general rule of thumb is if a team jumps by 10+ games from year to year that you should expect some regression (and vice versa for collapses).

If the M&M boys can fully recover (unlikely), if Liriano can recover from a 79 ERA+ back to the 120+ range people hoped for, if the rest of the Minnesota rotation can recover then they suddenly jump back to the 90+ win category and drive experts nuts again.

If everything goes right for the Royals then THEY could shock everyone.

And so on... this is a division where anything could happen and if Detroit collapses under the weight of its poor defense (or has a couple of key injuries) then we could see the first division winner sub-500 since 1994 and the first team into the playoffs who is sub-500.
Dewey - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#253027) #

Cleveland's team has as racist a logo as possible IMO. Change the skin tone to black and watch the protests begin. The name itself is a name used due to an error centuries ago [sic]. IMO they should've gotten rid of the mascot decades ago and until they at least do that I agree with ignoring their preference for a team name.



It isnít being ignored, John; itís being changed.  Thereís a very big difference.  And a rather frightening one,  that further reveals the righteous willingness of some people on Da Box to act as censors.
John Northey - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#253028) #
I just ignore it - As to being 'censors' if they were the Cleveland N-----s would it be censorship to change it for the purposes of the article?

As to the 'frightening' aspect, I find it funny how people find a public blog with a few hundred users doing something like listing a team by their cities name 'frightening' but a team promoting racist images and a name that can easily be viewed that way as well to millions as perfectly A-OK. Btw, before it comes up, yes people who are First Nations (or whatever term you wish to use) have protested the name/logo many times over the years (especially in 1995 with the ultimate 'politically incorrect' World Series) but have generally been ignored or written off as cranks while the media finds a few who will say they have no problem with it much like they find the crackpot scientists to argue there is no climate change or that mankind can't possibly affect the weather (ignoring previous damage to the ozone layer for example).

Hrm. Going WAAAAAAAY off topic here and into an area we really want to avoid as this is a nice place to talk baseball, not politics or if something is racist or not. So I'll step back and go back to just baseball. Sound good? If you have problems with how a member of the box is dealing with issues (by calling them the Cleveland Cleveland's for example) then please send emails to the general mailbox for the site.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 12:27 PM EDT (#253029) #
How about the Cleveland Alexanders?  Have there been any complaints about Notre Dame's use of the "Fighting Irish"?
Dewey - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#253032) #
As to the 'frightening' aspect, I find it funny how people find a public blog with a few hundred users doing something like listing a team by their cities name 'frightening' but a team promoting racist images and a name that can easily be viewed that way as well to millions as perfectly A-OK.

Did I say it was perfectly OK?  Youíre being disingenuous:  itís not calling them the Clevelands thatís at issue here, is it?  Itís the arbitrary change of something that isnít liked.  Slippery slope, that;  especially in our time of duplicitous robocalls.

And it was the initial post that Ďpoliticizedí the matter, not me. (It would be good to be able to address a particular member of the box who is responsible for changes and deletions that get made.  But that isnít possible, because they are invisible/anonymous.)


John Northey - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#253034) #
Sooo... does anyone see a team likely to pass Detroit this season and if so who and what would need to happen. Not extreme like what I mentioned for Minnesota, but more along the lines of 'if player abc does recover, as many think he has, then team xyz could win'.

I know I hope Detroit finds a way to make that defense even worse as it would be great entertainment - not necessarily in the 'amazing quality' department but in the 'how did that race car get around the 15 car pileup in one piece' department. Ideal playoff match would be against a team that is pure defense/no offense (not sure who that'd be) for a contrast of methodologies.
James W - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 01:30 PM EDT (#253037) #
I think the Indians have a slim possibility of passing the Tigers, most of it hinging on pitching staff health and infield defense, along with a return to form for Shin-Soo Choo. It also depends on Detroit putting a terrible defense out there, but I can't see that continuing for very long.
Glevin - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 02:01 PM EDT (#253039) #
"I think the Indians have a slim possibility of passing the Tigers, most of it hinging on pitching staff health and infield defense, along with a return to form for Shin-Soo Choo. It also depends on Detroit putting a terrible defense out there, but I can't see that continuing for very long."

Emphasis on slim. The Tigers have a better staff, a better bullpen, and a better offense than the Indians. I think the Tigers defense will obviously be bad, but I think people are exaggerating the extent of how much a bad defense impacts a team. It's not going to be a bunch of 7 year olds kicking the ball around the diamond. It's going to be once a game, a player doesn't get to a ball that a good defender would. Last year, the Tigers were -18 in runs saved defensively. The worst team in baseball, Baltimore, was -45. Let's say the Tigers are worse than that, -50, last season the Tigers scored 787 runs and gave up 711. Let's say, for arguments sake that they score and give up the same number of runs except for defense (even though their offense and staff and bullpen are all better this season.) They'd still be +44 runs on the season with a -50 defense. Cleveland last season was -54 in run differential. In order to catch them even if the Tigers don't improve anywhere, Cleveland would have to gain almost 100 runs. It's just not going to happen.
robertdudek - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#253043) #
I wonder who will defend all the other animals that have had their names applied to baseball teams - Tigers, Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays, Cardinals - shouldn't they have a say? And have any members of any monarchy been consulted about the Kansas City baseball team name? And should it bother sailors that the overwhelming majority of the Seattle Mariners are landlubbers? What about Marxists objecting to the potentially derogatory term used by the Cincinnati team.

 
mathesond - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#253044) #
Gosh, some people sure know how to suck all the fun out of a baseball debate!
jerjapan - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#253047) #
apologies for sucking fun, but the insensitivity of some of these posts makes me a little sad, and a little embarrassed to be a baseball fan.  The Indians logo is deeply offensive.
smcs - Thursday, March 22 2012 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#253048) #
And how dare anyone refer to Bartolo Colon as "Athletic."

For the Tigers not to win this division going away, they are going to have to have a few serious injuries and a couple of down years. Even then, I think they can get 88 wins and still win the division with an easy September. I think the other four teams will be bundled from 70-84 wins, but nobody will ever seem that close to Detroit.
Anders - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 12:15 AM EDT (#253052) #
Just to weigh in, as I seem to have kicked this all off...

Honestly, writing the Cleveland Clevelands instead of Cleveland Indians is a dopey joke between Alex Obal and myself more than anything else. Personally, I think if you were going to pick a team name in 2012, Indians would/should be pretty far down the list. With that being said, I do not think the team should be forced into changing the name. Double with that being said, the logo is an extremely offensive caricature, one that I think should be changed. I happen to like the alternate "C" cap, and the cursive "I" isn't awful.

Mike Green - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 09:07 AM EDT (#253053) #
Well, if it is a joke between you and Alex Obal, the Cleveland Alexanders definitely has to be it. 

I agree about the name and logo.  I imagine if the Toronto club was called the Jews instead of the Jays.  I wouldn't particularly care one way or the other (although it would be odd).  If the logo was of a Shylock character with money or whatever, i would have a problem with it, but a Samson would actually be pretty cool.  And Regina Spektor as striding-to-the-plate music would definitely be a change. 
bpoz - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 09:39 AM EDT (#253055) #
Last year Boston had bad start and finish but still won 90 games.
A bad start or/and finish for Detroit combined with a great start for someone else. 30W 10L & vice versa would qualify.

What about a dream start of 30-10 for the Jays. I think in 2009 & 2010 they were 25-15 or something. That is pretty good. But we could not avoid the losing, especially 2009 with that horrible slump starting in Boston. If 2009/10 could start strong why not 2012.
John Northey - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#253059) #
bpoz... you got me thinking (always dangerous)... checking when the Jays were last in 1st and when they were locked into their final slot each of the past 5 years...

Jays last in 1st place...
2011: April 6th (4-1)
2010: April 15th (7-3)
2009: May 23rd (27-19) - we had hope!
2008: April 13th (7-5)
2007: April 17th (8-5)

Jays locked into 4th on...
2011: June 6th (30-30)
2010: June 8th (33-26)
2009: June 28th (41-36)
2008: Sept 19th (82-72) (12 days in 3rd just before that)
Jays locked into 3rd on...
2007: July 6th (42-43)

2008 was the year the Rays moved from worst to first. 2008 also saw the Jays peak with a 78-66 record after a 10 game winning streak ending September 9th that pushed them ahead of the Yankees but still 7 back of a playoff slot (1 game back of the new rules playoff slot). In 2008 they also were 3rd or worse from April 16th to the end of the season.

Basically, in 2009 we had a brief dream into May and that is as long as we've seen recently. Last day in 1st was April 28th in 2006, April 16th 2005, in 2003 & 2004 they never were in 1st (3 game losing streak to start both seasons), 2002 was April 1st (won opening day-highlight of year), May 6th 2001 (woohoo!), and July 14th 2000 - the last time the Jays were actually contending in the summer time.

In 2000 they were just 4 1/2 back on Trading Deadline day (July 31st) and they'd never get closer (4 1/2 back in the end). That was the nightmare trade year - Darwin Cubillan and Michael Young to the Texas Rangers for Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza actually had a good ERA+ - 141 ERA+ - but a 5-7 record in part due to 8 (!) unearned runs in 14 starts - 7 starts allowing 4+ runs, 7 with 3 or fewer. Everything else Ash did that year was minor shuffling when it came to mid-season trades. Very bizarre - his first time with a real contender and a weak division (no one won 90) and he blew it big time. Didn't help that Homer Bush was at 2B (33 OPS+) and replaced by Mickey Morandini (58 OPS+). Wells & Phelps had September call-ups and got a grand total of 3 PA between them. This was Halladay's nightmare season (10.64 ERA for a record high all-time), Carpenter & Escobar had issues and were bounced between rotation & bullpen. Imagine if one of those 3 young (at the time) starters were how they'd be years later ... sigh.

So this century the only real contending year was 2000 with no other season seeing a Jays team in 1st place post-May and just twice in May. Ick.
Mick Doherty - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 01:40 PM EDT (#253061) #

So this century the only real contending year was 2000

And as long as we're parsing language in this thread, the year 2000, of course, was not part of the 21st century, it was the final year of the 20th century (there is no "year 0") ... so you can amend your note to "never," John. Isn't that cheerful????

John Northey - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#253062) #
Howsabout this - under Ash the Jays contended more often than they did under JP & AA (so far) - who'd have thought?
hypobole - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#253065) #
I'd have thought. Ash inherited some talent and was financially on a much more level playing field.
Mike Green - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 03:26 PM EDT (#253066) #
The Ash/Wilken drafting record was very, very good.  The problem was that Ash did not excel at the other elements of the GM's job.  He did, however, leave significant talent for his successors.
John Northey - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#253067) #
How much talent did each GM inherit I wonder? Each claimed to have a bare cupboard. Some obvious talent was there each time though...

1) Ash had 25 and under who already reached the majors... Delgado, A-Gon#1, Green, Olerud, Hentgen. Also 6 guys on the Baseball America top 100 list (Green, A-Gon, Silva, Stewart, Sandy Martinez, Carpenter).

2) JP had 25 and under who already reached the majors... Cesar Izturis, Felipe Lopez, Wells, Phelps, Halladay, Escobar. Also 5 guys on the Baseball America top 100 list (Phelps, Werth, Gross, Hudson, McGowan).

3) AA had 25 and under who already reached the majors... Snider, Cecil, Rzep, Litsch, Romero, Lind. Also 0 players on the Baseball America top 100 list (3 were there but they all came in the Halladay trade which AA did, JPA was on the list the year before but failed to make it after 2009).

From the looks of it Ash & JP had the most talent to work with while AA was given a nearly bare cupboard.
bpoz - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#253068) #
John N the 3 GMs also have to use their guys, even if they are/ were not ranked.

I don't know who Reed Johnson belongs to.

Felepe Lopez was wasted I believe by JP.

AA gets Alvarez, N Molina & Hutch, Marishnick maybe others. We do not yet know how they will turn out.

Gillick robbed Ash of the near HOF 2B ---? to get D Cone. that should count. But then the Cone trade did not work out for Ash.
bpoz - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#253072) #
Are we & other fans still going to like AA if he does not win 90-92 games in 2012?
My point is that by winning 90-92 games in 2012 or 2013 could help with his & the teams popularity. I also feel that he knows or feels strongly that:
1) He can fairly easily win 90-92 games.
2) 92 wins probably will not be enough to get into the playoffs not with NYY, Boston, TB, Texas & LAA as the competition.

We will find out how talented this group of players is as the season unfolds. I am leaning towards believing that Lawrie, Bautista, JPA, Romero & Cecil are ultra competitive AND that may add a few wins.
Richard S.S. - Friday, March 23 2012 @ 07:08 PM EDT (#253079) #

bpoz

I believe April's start will determine whether or not Toronto contends for a playoff spot.   Every game is one you don't have to win from May 1st on.   April has 23 games: 7 games with Teams contending for a playoff spot, 16 games with the also-rans.   IMO, 15 to 20 wins in April is possible for this team.   As it seems most other teams are having roster problems, if you browse enough sites.

I think Morrow might join that group if he finds his stuff is that effective.   I don't know what we'll get from McGowan, but he has no quit in any bone in his makeup.

bpoz - Saturday, March 24 2012 @ 09:13 AM EDT (#253099) #
The ST record is good but probably means little.
However many SPs are getting in their innings well within their pitch quota. Again I don't know if this is relevant.
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