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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.

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Here's a breakdown of what that other division will be throwing at the Jays this year. The White Sox and Tigers reload in an effort to bring down the two-time defending champs, while the Royals lurk in the shadows.
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In Surprise news, the Royals still suck.
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The AL Central promises to be one of the most balanced divisions in baseball in 2009. No team should win more than 90 or less than 70, and a bunch of 80 win teams would not be surprising. Heck, even Vegas agrees - they predict all the teams will fall into the 75-85 win range. Does that make the Central boring or exciting? Gwyn and I will try to give you a couple of reasons why it might be of interest. With that being said, we'll start our preview.
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Joey Gathright is on the Royals and you know what that means!
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It isnít his age that bothers him, but rather the fact that he is aging. Generally lauded for the strength of his ascent, Lance Veld is now at the supposed apex for a would-be politician Ė the point at which one is expected to break through and secure the long-sought victory. He has come close before, but as he has progressed through his prime years, the excitement of aspiration has given way to the discomfort of knowing that the window of opportunity is shrinking.

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Last week, the Toronto Star ran a feature in which they solicited readers to submit their life story in six words.  As this is my first assignment for Batterís Box - my Spring Training if you will - I figured I should start to stretch myself out and continue with The Starís theme in breaking down the Minnesota Twins.

 Depressing offseason.  Johan gone.  76-86 inevitable.

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I don't need to tell you what the Tigers have been up to this offseason. GM Dave Dombrowski made the biggest news of the winter not involving anyone named Barry, Roger or Johan by trading a bevy of prospects and Mike Rabelo for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. They promptly locked D-Train up through 2010 for $29mil. Cabrera remains unextended, but he isn't a free agent until after 2009, so there's still time.
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Do you believe in miracles?
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I thought I would take a broad-based approach to my Tigers preview this year. Why depend on only one brain, when I have at my disposal a network of hundreds if not thousands of better baseball brains to take advantage of? After plumbing the depths of my e-mail contact list, I managed to solicit a variety of different answers to a few specific, important questions regarding this year's Tiger team. Take it away, guys...

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The following is not a preview so much as an attempt to start a conversation about Clevelandís chances in 2006, in light of some different projection systems and expectations produced by the free market.

Last year in this space, I did a run-down of some of the available ďinvestmentĒ markets that pertained to the team and how various projection systems felt about the futures markets and propositions. This year, I will do the same.
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"Well, we're screwed now."
--White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, on PECOTA's projection of 72 wins for his team.
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Another year, another last place finish.
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Jordan said it best last year:

Go to aarongleeman.com. Thatís it. Thatís my preview.
No, seriously. Weíre all done here. Go home.

He's right. Since Aaron is all over the Twins like a duck on a june bug, there really isn't much to say here that he won't say, and say much better...

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Be the house. That is the central theme of Moneyball and the mantra of those engaged in empirically-based approaches to baseball management. Take as many small advantages as possible so that, over time, you win and the poor suckers who risked their hard earned dollars on the roulette wheel, the blackjack table, and Carl Pavano have no idea how it happened.
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