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White Sox Wed Apr 21 2010
I came across this 2010 American League Prediction post by Tyler Kepner of The New York Times' Bats Blog. Here's what it had to say about the Central Division:
American League Central
1. White Sox - Their rotation could be overpowering, and the offense should be able to score runs in more ways. Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios need to be consistent power sources, but Gordon Beckham is a rising star.
2. Twins - Losing Joe Nathan hurts, and while their lineup should be very strong with Orlando Hudson added to the Joe Mauer/Justin Morneau core, there is too much mediocrity in the rotation to catch the White Sox.
3. Tigers - The rotation has holes, and even with Johnny Damon it's a pretty thin lineup. The Yankees believed Austin Jackson needed another year at Class AAA, but the Tigers think he's ready after a strong spring.
4. Indians - There's legitimate talent in the lineup, with under-the-radar standouts like Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. But their rotation may be the worst in baseball, and closer Kerry Wood is hurt.
5. Royals - They need to find out if some high draft picks (Luke Hochevar, No. 1 over all in 2006 and Alex Gordon, No. 2 over all in 2005) can really play. The rotation has Zack Greinke in front ... and Kyle Farnsworth in back.
I was talking to someone the other day about the Twins. It seems completely off right now but I'm not sure. Given that the season is still young and Minnesota hasn't found a comparable closer yet this may not be a stale assessment of the Twins. And without Mauer and Justin Morneau it's hard believe the Twins would be leading the division like they are.
I would also say that the Royals and the Indians weren't given enough credit. From what I've seen of the Tribe's new closer, Chris Perez, the Indians don't have to worry about finishing games. Moreover Shin-Soo Choo has been pretty solidly this year. With studs like Choo and Perez, it's no wonder the Indians are closer to breaking .500.
The Royals prediction is usually a safe one. I think I disagree with it because of the benefit of hindsight. So far the Royals have surprised in a number of ways. Greinke hasn't been himself lately (although earlier today he looked like the 2009 Cy Young winnter everyone fears, posting a 2.57 ERA and allowing only two runs over seven innings against Toronto). Greinke's performance so far hasn't been what many have expected but neither has the Royals' over all. Kansas seems to have found an excellent closer in Joakin Soaria and Scott Podsednik is hitting .457 making every White Sox fan miss him that much more. If the Royals keep this up they won't end up in fifth place at the end of the season.
I'll be honest, I haven't been following Detroit that closely (despite dating a Detroit fan and being a student at the University of Michigan) but the holes problem sounds about right. The Tigers may look good now but Johnn Damon just isn't being the all-star Detroit needs to win this division.
Which brings us to the White Sox. What's accurate is that Beckham is on the rise and Quentin is playing well and getting better. What was wrong is that Rios isn't what everyone expected. Again, it's early, and that's probably will change, but as of right now, the Sox really aren't bringing all the runs along with plenty of strikes like Kenper said they would. And the rotation just isn't anywhere near where they could be.
But, again, the season is still young and the Sox will get better, just how much better is hard to tell right now.