Chicago White Sox
Expectations: Ozzie Guillen tweets every lineup change from the dugout.
Key addition: 1B/OF Adam Dunn (.260, 38 HR, 103 RBI with Washington)
Key loss: RP Bobby Jenks (1-3, 27 Saves, 4.44 ERA)
Projected record: 92-70
Summary: Most of the puzzle pieces remain from last year’s team, with a power addition of Adam Dunn. The team has speed (Juan Pierre, Alex Rios), power (Dunn, Paul Konerko) and pitching (John Danks, Mark Buherle). Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin are all solid ballplayers. The White Sox have a question mark in the bullpen, as they will have Chris Sale or Matt Thornton closing. Jake Peavy’s injury concerns are troublesome, but as an end of the rotation guy, he won’t be relied on as an ace.
Expectations: Increased amount of man-crushes on all-star catcher Joe Mauer.
Key addition: 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.260, 14 HR, 41 RBI with Chiba of the Japanese League.
Key loss: 2B Orlando Hudson (.268, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
Projected record: 89-73
Summary: Mauer leads the Twins, who are bitter after two straight first round exits to the Yankees. The core of the team returns, although key component 1B Justin Morneau missed the second half of last year with a concussion, and has only played six spring training games thus far. The Twins rotation is decent; no stud ace, but some solid pitchers to get the job done. One of the biggest question marks is the bullpen. Joe Nathan is coming off Tommy John surgery, and if he is the Joe Nathan of old, the Twins will be fine. If not, Matt Capps will be their go-to guy.
Summary: The Tigers underachieved last season going 81-81, finishing 13 games behind the first place Twins. They added Boston’s Victor Martinez, who is a .225 career hitter at Detroit’s Comerica Park. Will Martinez continue his struggles at his new spacious home? He will likely DH for the team, hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, so RBI opportunities will be there. Detroit’s pitching is good with Justin Verlander, Matt Scherzer and Rick Porcello.
Expectations: The Indians beg Pedro Cerrano and Rick Vaughn to come back and play for the team.
Key addition: OF Austin Kearns (.263, 10 HR, 49 RBI with Cleveland and New York AL)
Key loss: Uhhhh…. I guess 3B Andy Marte (.229, 5 HR, 19 RBI)
Projected record: 70-92
Summary: Carlos Santana has recovered from a knee injury he suffered last August, only two months after being called up to the major league club. The Tribe are going to rely on their young catcher and OF Shin Soo-Choo, who hit .300 last year, with 22 HR and 90 RBI. Other offensive weapons, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, have had trouble staying healthy in recent years. Pitcher Fausto Carmona had a good year last season (3.77 ERA), despite losing 14 games.
Kansas City Royals
Expectations: Could contend for the AAA Championship.
Key addition: OF Jeff Francoeur (.249, 13 HR, 65 RBI with New York NL and Texas)
Key loss: SP Zach Greinke (10-14, 4.17 ERA, 181 K)
Projected record: 65-97
Summary: The Royals fortunately have a deep minor league system, stocked up from many years of top draft picks. However, that won’t help them this year. They do have 1B Billy Butler, who hit .318 last year. Top prospect 3B Mike Moustakas is ready for a promotion, and might get one this season. Unfortunately the Royals traded away their best player, SP Zach Greinke for a boatload of prospects. It’ll be a while before Kansas City is a competitor again.