Monday, April 02, 2007

WCT Baseball Preview of the Week

Baseball season begins in earnest today, and we here at WCT are psyched (Indians already up 9-2 on the White Sox!). In order to prepare for the season (and so that in October we can brag about how right we were in the spring) we will preview each divisi
on, and predict the order of finish of the teams.

Today: Baseball's best division, the American League Central

Detroit Tigers – We have a funny feeling about this Tigers team. They are easily the most talented team in the division, but they also remind us a lot of the ’06 White Sox. We have never understood the phenomenon of the “sophomore slump,” but if it happens to any or all of the talented rookie pitchers who carried this team all the way through October, they are going to be in trouble. Kenny “get that camera out of my face” Rogers starts the year on the DL, it will be interesting to see how well he pitches now that he won’t be able to use that mysterious brown substance that was on his left hand during the playoffs last year. The addition of Gary Sheffield will be big, because when Gary is mad, he hits the ball real hard. We see them winning the division, but not without a fight. Call us crazy, but we just have a hunch that this team won’t be as successful as they were last year, or as many experts think they will be.

Cleveland Indians – It scares us to say this, as Indians fans, but the Tribe looks very good on paper right now. The rotation, as long as everyone stays healthy (C.C. Sabathia, we’re looking at you) should be solid. They added Joe Borowski to replace Bob Wickman as the closer, and rest of the bullpen is above average. Trot Nixon should bring the veteran influence that they have needed. Travis Hafner is arguably the best power hitter in the league, and the WCT pick for MVP. If the Jhonny Perralta of 2005 returns rather than the Jhonny Perralta of 2006, then the Indians could have three young studs in the infield with Perralta, Josh Barfield, and Andy Marte. If they put it together, we see the Tribe ending up with the wild card.

(quick aside: Everybody’s darling Grady Sizemore has GOT to cut down on his strikeouts. No one ever talks about this, but the Indians cannot continue to have their leadoff hitter striking out 140-150 times in a season. We love the guy, and we appreciate the way he plays centerfield, but he should be putting the ball in play a lot more often than he does. Or they should have someone who is more of a more contact-hitter, perhaps Barfield, lead off, and bat Sizemore third in the lineup)

(Update: Grady is already 1 for 1 with a leadoff home run, a walk, and two runs scored so we take back everything we said. For now)

Chicago White Sox – We don’t subscribe to the ridiculous idea that Ozzie Guillen is on the “hot seat” this year, but we think that he is beginning to become a distraction to his team. The Sox pitching staff fell apart down the stretch last year, and it cost them in the playoff race. This team will be able to score a lot of runs, but their bullpen lacks depth, and their starting rotation needs to be more like ’05 and less like ’06 if they are going to stay in the race.

Minnesota Twins – This team’s pitching staff looks is if it was assembled with a “Johan Santana, and pray for four days of rain” strategy. Too bad they play 81 games in a dome. Fransisco Liriano cannot return soon enough. One more thing: Honestly, who names their son “Boof?”

Kansas City Royals – Don’t laugh at us, but we think the Royals are going to be respectable this year, bordering on mediocre. 3B Alex Gordon is everybody’s early pick rookie of the year, and the outfield trio of Mark Tehan, Emil Brown, and David DeJesus is better than most people would think. It would not surprise us if they ended up somewhere other than the AL Central cellar, but we have them there just out of force of habit. They’re sort of like the opposite of the Braves of the 90s, until someone else proves that they can come in last in this division, we’re still going to go with the Royals.

1 comment:

Coop said...

Nobody names their son Boof. His real name was John, but his nickname was Boof. He officialy changed it to Boof last year.