TSN TV Schedule TSN2 TV Schedule
MLB

TSN.ca: 2014 American League Central preview

{eot}
TSN.ca Staff
3/26/2014 10:00:24 AM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

Baseball season is just around the corner and TSN.ca has you covered for who's in, who's out and what to expect from all 30 teams. Check in every day this week for two new division previews, finishing up with Scott MacArthur's look at the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Here's what to expect out of the American League Central in 2014.

Chicago White Sox

GM: Rick Hahn

Manager: Robin Ventura

2013: 63-99, 5th in AL Central, Did not qualify for playoffs.

That was Then: It was tough to finish below the Houston Astros in any statistical category in 2013, yet the Chicago White Sox managed to do exactly that in the runs scored category.

Manager Robin Ventura was a finalist for Manager of the Year in 2012 but his 2013 team lost 22 more games and avoided the team's first 100-loss season since 1970 by just one game.

Going a little deeper than saying everything went wrong for the White Sox, outside of Adam Dunn no one else on the team hit over 20 home runs.

For his part, Dunn also whiffed 189 times, third-most in the American League.

Chris Sale turned in a solid season from the mound posting an 11-14 record but a very respectable 3.07 ERA as well as 226 strikeouts to 46 walks.

From there, the rest of the pitching staff took a sharp drop and one of the key members of the staff, Jake Peavy, was traded mid-season to the Boston Red Sox.

When they were able to get the ball to closer Addison Reed he was pretty solid out of the back end of the bullpen converting 40 saves, but it wasn't enough to save a dismal season for the South Siders.

Reed was rewarded for his standout play with a trip out of Chicago, direct to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This is Now: The White Sox have a few offensive pieces in their 2014 lineup that warrant some attention heading into the season.

Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu who defected and signed a long term deal with the White Sox in the off-season should provide some pop in the middle of the lineup while Adam Eaton could be able to bring a spark to the White Sox attack.

Even coming off as bad a run producing season as the White Sox just had, their real problem is going to be starting depth. Outside of Chris Sale, who has proven himself to be a staff ace, they are going to struggle to put together a top of the line starting staff.

Which in turn is going to tax their bullpen causing it to struggle.

Variations on a theme for the 2014 Chicago White Sox.

Who's In?: 1B Jose Abreu, RP Jairo Asencio, RP Ronald Belisario, RP Mitchell Boggs, 3B Matt Davidson, RP Scott Downs, OF Adam Eaton.

Who's Out?: C Bryan Anderson, SP Gavin Floyd, 1B Travis Ishikawa, RP Addison Reed, IF Angel Sanchez, SP Hector Santiago, RP Ramon Troncoso, OF Dewayne Wise.

Cleveland Indians

GM: Chris Antonetti

Manager: Terry Francona

2013: 92-70, 2nd in AL Central. Lost Wild Card Game to Tampa Bay.

That was Then: To say things were different for the Cleveland Indians under Manager of the Year Terry Francona would be the biggest understatement made in these or any other previews.

Francona, owner of two World Series rings from his time with the Boston Red Sox, instilled a winning philosophy in his team and they rode that wave right into the American League Wild Card Game, marking the Tribe's first playoff berth since 2002.

Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn all arrived to add a veteran presence while Carlos Santana took a reduced role behind the plate in order to get his bat into the lineup more often.

Justin Masterson had a breakout season which included beating R.A. Dickey and David Price, the two reigning Cy Young Award winners.

This is Now: Canadian John Axford has replaced the sometimes-erratic Chris Perez as the team's closer and though he had a rough time during the 2013 season, split between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, he will be looking to get things right in Cleveland for 2014.

Santana is trying his hand at third base in an effort not to become a fulltime DH and could add to the roster flexibility the Indians already enjoy with many players that can move to multiple positions.

In the end the Indians will go as far as their rotation can take them and there are questions about what they can get from not only Masterson but Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister at the top of the rotation.

If the arms falter, the Indians will take a huge step back, right out of the playoff picture.

Who's In?: IF David Adams, RP Scott Atchison, RP John Axford, RP Colt Hynes, 2B Elliot Johnson, SP Shaun Marcum, RF David Murphy, RP Josh Outman, J.C. Ramirez.

Who's Out?: RP Matt Albers, OF Ezequiel Carrera, RP Rich Hill, SP Ubaldo Jimenez, SP Scott Kazmir, OF Jason Kubel, C Lou Marson, SP Brett Myers, RP Chris Perez, RP Clay Rapada, C Omir Santos, RP Joe Smith, OF Drew Stubbs.

Detroit Tigers

GM: Dave Dombrowski

Manager: Brad Ausmus

2013: 93-69, 1st in AL Central. Lost American League Championship Series to Boston.

That was Then: The Detroit Tigers have been the class of the Central Division and the 2013 season did nothing to change that as they won 93 games on their way to a third consecutive title.

Their season eventually came to an end at the hands of the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series as they fell in six games.

Third baseman Miguel Cabrera picked up his second straight MVP award after posting another incredible season of 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.

He battled injuries towards the end of the campaign and had trouble finding his form in the playoffs.

Max Scherzer turned in a 21-3 season and a 2.90 ERA on his way to earning the CY Young Award.

This is Now: An entire season review of the Detroit Tigers and not one mention of Justin Verlander one of the top pitching talents in all of baseball. He had a down year in 2013 finishing with a 13-12 season and 3.46 ERA.

It would not be a surprise to see him return to the elite level he has produced since the 2009 season.

That means with all of the weapons currently in new manager Brad Ausmus' arsenal, the best one might be a bouncing back, motivated Justin Verlander.

Veteran manager Jim Leyland who led the team to four playoff appearances, all division titles, as well as two World Series (where they were twice beaten) has called it a career after eight seasons with the team.

One weapon Ausmus won't have is slugger Prince Fielder who had become a fixture in a Tigers uniform but was dealt in the off-season to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler.

That deal was a move that will cost the team some offence but pay back both in defensive improvement as well as health as it will allow Cabrera to move back to the less taxing first base position.

That equals trouble for the rest of the American League.

Who's In?: RP Duane Below, OF Ezequiel Carrera, RP Joba Chamberlain, OF Trevor Crowe, OF Rajai Davis, 2B Ian Kinsler, RP Ian Krol, RP Joe Nathan.

Who's out?: RP Joaquin Benoit, 1B Prince Fielder, SP Doug Fister, 2B Omar Infante, C Brayan Pena, SS Jhonny Peralta, RP Jose Valverde, RP Jose Veras.

Kansas City Royals

GM: Dayton Moore

Manager: Ned Yost

2013: 86-76, 3rd in AL Central. Did not qualify for playoffs.

That was Then: For the first time since 2003, the Kansas City Royals turned in a winning season, finishing with an 86-76 record. The team has shown tremendous growth under manager Ned Yost but last year was the first time they looked as though they took a legitimate step forward.

Alex Gordon had a strong offensive season but leading the team with 20 home runs means your team did not hit for power at all.

Still there were signs of life from players like Eric Hosmer who swatted 17 homers and drove in 79 runs as well as catcher Salvador Perez who also cashed in 79 runs.

James Shields was strong at the top of the pitching rotation finishing with a 13-9 record and a 3.15 ERA and Greg Holland was more than reliable as the team's closer.

It was a solid but not spectacular season for the Royals, a team that has lots of room left to grow.

This is Now: The addition of Nori Aoki is going to help properly re-order the Royals lineup. He will now hit at the top, allowing Alex Gordon to slide into the five-hole where he can try to boost his power numbers.

Omar Infante will also help at the top of the order to set the table for Hosmer and Billy Butler another legit power threat that didn't post big numbers but has the ability to provide pop.

They will have to find a way to replace Ervin Santana who signed with the Atlanta Braves during the off-season and was a key member of their starting rotation.

Every year is supposed to be the year the Royals finally put it together but 2014 just might be that year after they made great veteran acquisitions to go with strong young talent.

Who's In?: OF Nori Aoki, C Ramon Hernandez, 2B Omar Infante, IF Brandon Laird, OF Melky Mesa, OF Carlos Peguero, RP Jon Rauch, RP Ramon Troncoso, SP Jason Vargas.

Who's Out?: 2B Emilio Bonifacio, IF Jamey Carroll, 2B Chris Getz, C George Kottaras, 1B Carlos Pena, SP Ervin Santana, RP Will Smith.

Minnesota Twins

GM: Terry Ryan

Manager: Ron Gardenhire

2013: 66-96, 4th in AL Central. Did not qualify for playoffs

That was Then: Sour times for the 2013 Minnesota Twins included a 66-96 record, their third consecutive sub-70 win campaign, as well as saying goodbye to long-time franchise cornerstone Justin Morneau who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates just prior to the trade deadline.

Joe Mauer once again carried the load behind the plate and saw his offensive numbers dip as he only drove in 47 runs to go along with his 11 home runs.

The Twins were not great at the dish in 2013 but compared to their starting staff they were red hot all season.

Kevin Correia was the best of a struggling bunch of starters as he finished with a 9-13 record and a 4.18 ERA.

Truthfully, the Twins struggled across the board most notably in their 8-20 September finish that translates to a .286 winning percentage.

This is Now: The Twins have a few blue chip prospects in their system but those players are a few years away from making it to the Major Leagues.

For now they were left with a roster made up of Joe Mauer and spare parts that have been cobbled together from the free-agent pool or left over from the last time the team contended.

The biggest off-season move was picking up Kurt Suzuki which will allow Joe Mauer to become the fulltime first baseman and allow him to finally play a relatively full schedule without putting catcher stress on his body.

The Twins are a bad team and they haven't done much to make anyone think they are going to be much better in 2014.

Who's In?: RP Matt Guerrier, SP Phil Hughes, RP Kris Johnson, OF Jason Kubel, SP Ricky Nolasco, C Kurt Suzuki.

Who's Out?: RP Cody Eppley, SP Liam Hendriks, SP Pedro Hernandez, OF Clete Thomas, RP Duke Welker.

Miguel Cabrera (Photo: The Canadian Press)

zoom

(Photo: The Canadian Press)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story



Baseball Canada

Keep up with the latest on Canada's national programs from the governing body for amateur baseball in Canada.


Baseball Canada Website

Podcasts

TSN 1050: The Baseball Podcast : Episode 17 - Aug. 6th

Scott MacArthur, Richard Griffin & Gregor Chisholm discuss quiet trade deadline for the Blue Jays, struggling rotation & potential Biogenesis fallout.

TSN 1050: The Baseball Podcast: July 30 - Episode 15

Scott MacArthur & Toronto Star's Richard Griffin preview the trade deadline, Blue Jays' needs & being on Boston as Jon Lester rumours ramp up.

TSN 1050: Blue Lunch: July 9 - John McDonald

LA Angels infielder, John McDonald joined Blue Lunch to discuss his career from the time he left Toronto to the present.


More Podcasts

© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television