Part III: Fine in ’09? – Volume 3
Divisional and League Predictions
So you must be thinking by now, “Man, this Joe guy knows a lot about the Tigers, does he ever work?” Well, yes I do and yes I do, but not often. I’ve been telling people for years now that the Tigers were my first true love. Sad? Maybe. But at this point in my Tiger-induced euphoria, I’d like to think I do indeed know a thing or two. I’ve put it off long enough and now it is officially time to predict the Tigers fate in 2009.
Will we be fine in 2009? YES WE WILL!
The Tigers play in a very competitive AL Central. Here is how I think the division shakes out this year, in reverse order:
5. Kansas City Royals – yes, the Royals won one more game than the Tigers last year, thus dropping us to last place. I sure hope they enjoyed it because that run is over. They showed their lack of motivation to win by signing Tiger reject Kyle Farnsworth in the off-season. They also signed slugger Mike Jacobs to add some power. What I don’t like is they traded away two bullpen studs: Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez. As a result, they won’t be as strong at the end of games and will resume their rightful spot at the cellar of the Central.
4. Cleveland Indians – they went from a 96-win team in ’07 to 81 wins in ’08. The main reason – pitching. Despite Cliff Lee’s dominance, the rest of the staff was weak. Aside from signing Kerry Wood to get the saves, they haven’t done much to address this weakness and C.C. Sabathia is but a distant memory now. If Fausto Carmona comes back healthy and Lee stays strong, they should be right around .500 again, maybe a shade under. If nothing else, they do have the luxury of trotting centerfielder Grady Sizemore out there everyday. We at isportsweb.com think that Grady is the man!
3. Chicago White Sox – good one year, not so good the next. The trend continues. Their 16-win increase from ’07 to ’08 won’t hold up. I like a lot of their pieces but really believe that the stars aligned just right for them last year in our division. I see the Sox winning about 82 games this year. One guy I love is 2B/SS Alexei Ramirez. He may be the skinniest man in baseball but he is a lightning rod full of talent.
2. Detroit Tigers – Hey, I said fine, not great. I think we make some real strides this year, win about 86-89 games and finish a close 2nd to the Twins. I look to see our pitching make a big recovery setting up a playoff run in 2010. I think the Carlos Guillen experiment in left is a bad, bad idea. I do understand Leyland’s predicament though. He needs his bat and Sheffield’s in the lineup, and only one can DH. I pity Granderson for the amount of ground he will have to cover making up for Guillen and Ordonez’s lack of range. I do look for Granderson and Cabrera to go to the All-Star game this year. The most important thing to monitor this year will be the progress of Verlander, Bonderman and Zumaya. If those guys get their nastiness back, we will once again have a bright future, and present.
1. Minnesota Twins – 2 words: Ron Gardenhire. 2 more words: Francisco Liriano. Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire is simply the best in the business. He thrives on turning middle-tier talent into playoff teams and he’ll do it again. The addition of Joe Crede’s bat and glove to go along with Mauer, Morneau and those other gnats that fly all over the field will make this team tough to beat. Oh yeah, and Francisco Liriano is healthy again. This is not good for other AL Central teams. Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, he was his old dominant self late in ’08 and should post Cy Young caliber numbers this year. Worth watching: Closer Joe Nathan has never blown a save against the Tigers. Can we finally get to this guy?
Now we now that the Twins will be playing in October. What other AL teams will join them?
AL East: Boston Red Sox – they have enough to win the division, barely
AL Central: Minnesota Twins
AL West: Los Angeles Angels – this is easy, class of the division
Wild Card: New York Yankees – figured a way to pay their way into October again
That’s right. Tampa is a no-show.
Hmmm. I really can’t think of much else to talk about at the moment regarding the Detroit Tigers. In that case, I might as well talk about their minor league hopes and dreams!
Check out Season Preview Part IV, coming soon to isportsweb.com.