Batting: Speedy LF and eventual lead-off man for the Tribe Michael Brantley will start in the minors. With the signing of Russell Branyan it began a domino effect pushing probable 1B and uber-prospect Matt LaPorta back to LF, making Brantley the odd man out. Things could change quickly though with the lineup as Travis Hafner isn’t the monster he once was and has been on a downward spiral with injuries and forgetting how to hit since his 2006 campaign where he slugged 42 HR with 117 RBI. If he struggles/injured, Branyan to DH, LaPorta to 1B and Brantley to LF.
- Trending the wrong way: Johnny Peralta ( lowest HR, RS and BA since becoming a regular in 2006)
-Unexpected production: Youngster 2B Luis Valbueno, 10 long balls in 368 AB·
Pitching: Jake Westbrook comes back from Tommy John surgery to lead the rotation. 2007 All-star Fausto Carmona is rounding back into shape. This spring he’s given up 1 ER in 7 IP with 4 K’s. Right-hander Justin Masterson obtained in the Victor Martinez trade with the Red Sox last year is tearing up ST with 12 K’s in 7 IP with only 1 ER given up.
Kansas City Royals:
Batting: One time can’t miss prospect Alex Gordon is hurt once again. Gordon broke his thumb sliding into 2nd base making Opening day a question mark for him. If he can stay healthy and that’s a big if; Gordon could be a 20/20 guy.
- Who’s up the middle? Alberto Callaspo should be starting at 2B with speedy Chris Getz (from the White Sox) backing him up and getting about 300 AB with 20+ steals. Getz will probably be starting by the end of the year as Callaspo will probably be traded at the trade deadline to a contender. Yuniesky Betancourt is starting at SS and probably not someone you want to roster unless you’re in a very deep league and you have to.
- Rifle armed Rick Ankiel will be manning CF and should be a sleeper to hit 20-25 HR with a .265 average
Pitching: It’s all about Greinke and Soria! 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke leads the young rotation, while stud closer Joakim Soria will be finishing the games. Luke Hochevar could surprise some people like he did last year with a 13 K game against the Rangers on June 25th or he could continue to struggle like he did most of last year finishing 7-13 with a 6.55 ERA.
Batting: Did someone say Johnny Damon? So this is where ex-Yankees go to die. Johnny wanted to be a Yankee but super-agent Scott Boras screwed that up by wanting too much (go figure). This should end up being a good thing for the Tigers as they needed another bat, but there is no way Damon approaches his numbers from last year hitting half of his games this year in cavernous Tiger Stadium…ummm Comerica Park. This is a team that has serious question marks!
- Rookie Scott Sizemore manning 2B
- All-glove/no-hit Adam Everett at SS
- Rookie Austin Jackson from the Yankees farm system starting in CF
- Fading RF Magglio Ordonez
- 3B Brandon Inge and his .230 BA in 2009 (.236 lifetime)
- Maybe I just should have hit the high points…er point. Miguel Cabrera is sober and primed for a big year if the guys in front of him can get on base.
Pitching: Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander put it together again last year and looks to repeat those stellar numbers…Projected stats: 20 Wins, 245 K’s with a 3.12 ERA, Young Ace in the making Rick Porcello slots in at #2 with hard throwing Max Scherzer from the D-Backs probable as the 3rd starter. 2008 surprise rookie Armando Galarraga has been sent down to the minors so that leaves 2 spots open for 2/3 of these guys. Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. My guess is Willis and Robertson as Bonderman is having a tough spring: 11.12 ERA with 2 HR given up in 5 2/3 IP
Chicago White Sox:
Batting: Key Losses- Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Scott Posednik and Chris Getz Gains: Juan Pierre, Mark Teahen and Andruw Jones
- This is a lineup that will score a lot of runs. Juan Pierre is going to have a big year leading off for the White Sox with Gordon Beckham moving over to 2B and hitting second, Carlos Quentin returning from injury and returning to form could be a devastating 1-3 hitters. Add in Paul Konerko hitting 4th and Alexis Rios rebounding and this is a powerful nucleus. They are solid all the way down the lineup.
Pitching: This is what could make them really special though…Jake Peavy and Mark Buehrle heading the rotation followed by two good young pitchers in John Danks and Gavin Floyd with Freddy Garcia possibly being the best 5th starter in the AL. If there’s a problem with their pitching it’s with Bobby Jenks as he has been trending the wrong way the past couple of years. Here are his Save totals 2006-41, 2007-40, 2008-30, 2009-29. He is in danger of losing his job to hard thrower Matt Thornton or possibly former closer JJ Putz.
Batting: How can you start with anything other than the M & M boys? 3 time batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer and former MVP Justin Morneau, add in sparkplug Denard Span and the O-Dog possibly hitting 2nd and you’re going to score some runs. Sometimes lost in the spot light is High Avg/Power DH Jason Kubel who will hit over 30 HR this year with 110 RBI. If Delmon Young can finally turn the corner and new SS JJ Hardy (from the Brewers) can get back to his 25 HR power, nobody in the division can keep up with them offensively.
Pitching: Big blow last week with Joe Nathan coming up with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Possible closer replacements: Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshak, Jon Rauch and maybe Francisco Loraine? My bet is Jon Rauch as he has the closer experience with 26 saves lifetime. Rotation? Scott Baker is the ace with Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey lining up behind him. You’ll want to grab Slowey this year as he’s going to have a monster year…trust me! What about Francisco Liriano? Some say he’s back to 2006 form and if that’s the case grab him too and enjoy the ride!
Patrick Kelley - AL Maharishi
About the A.L. Maharishi