Chicago White Sox
Last Year: 86-76
Runs Scored/Allowed: 770/658
Players Lost: Rafael Pineda, Felix Ryan, Andrew Cole
The White Sox retained most of their offensively capable players that led them to 770 runs last season. Pineda, Ryan, and Cole were all moderate contributors and their loss totals about 160 runs (16 wins). But in their place is very capable young players that should fill those production numbers and actually exceed them with about 190 runs (a net of +3 wins).
The entire pitching staff returns for this season led by a strong starting five. Humberto Sierra and Nick Terrell are really the only weak spots on the staff. Artie Meyers is really the key, and if he could get more innings the staff could improve on their super low 658 runs allowed. As it stands, expect about the same performance.
Prediction: 90-72, 1st Place
Toronto Blue Jays
Last Year: 81-81
Players Added: 3B BC Vizquel (SF), 2B Khoury Hayes (Mon), C Mel Allen (Min-Rule 5), P Willie Manzanillo (aaa), sp Pablo Cruz (KC), rp Mike Ford (TB), sp Chip Torres (STL), sp Al Jeanmar
Players Lost: Neil Graham, Tom Tucker, Brian Gregg, Tony Duran, Miguel Perez, Alejandro Vazquez, Andy Daly, Travis Hentgen, Howard Esposito
The big three are back! Victor Blanco, Phil Doumit, and Wally Barton struck fear in the hearts of pitchers around the American League. The three were responsible for 390 runs, but also accounted for $22.5 million in payroll. Money well spent for an offense that produced 871 runs. The Jays added Vizquel, an aging but still productive Hayes, and rule V backup Mel Allen.
The pitching staff is what kept the Jays out of the playoffs and produced their third straight season of .500 ball (81-81 for the last three). Rod33 hasn’t felt that playoff rush as his tenure, and Toronto hasn’t had October baseball since season 8. Rod made some significant changes in order to improve by bringing up younger players and hitting the bargain bin in free agency. Vazquez is a loss from their rotation as he sported a respectable 4.65 FIP, but also carried a 1.54 Whip that wasn’t so hot. Overall, the pitching should be better.
Overall, the additions simply won’t be enough. Until young pitching is developed the Jays will continue to rely on their big three to win ball games.
Prediction: 82-80, 3rd place
Last Year: 74-88
Runs Scored/Allowed: 737/754
Players Added: RF Javier Valdes (FLA), CF Victor Pulido (HOU), C Tito Yoon (MIL), rp Rodrigo Salinas (SF), rp Fred Wolf (SD), rp Corey McDonald (NYY), rp Albert Saez (LAD)
Players Lost: Pedro Ordonez, Pablo Alcantra, Chris Benjamin, Jesse Cooke, Bill Smith, Clint Brocail.
For the first time in their history the Twins opened up their wallet, and went over the $90 million threshold. The Twins are now one of the most dangerous teams in the AL with the additions of Valdes and Pulido. The offense was pedestrian last year with only 737 runs scored. That will change this season to the tune of an additional 150 runs (plus the runs saved on defense).
The pitching gets moderately better with the additions to their bullpen. The upgrades on defense might help more than expected.
Overall, they still need a few pieces to truly contend. You can expect them to be involved in the chase and give the Sox a run for their money.
Prediction: 85-77, 2nd place
Last Year: 60-102
Runs Scored/Allowed: 779/1014
Players Added: SS Willie Smith (FLA), 2B Ted Lombard (recent trade with LAD), 2B Melky Sanchez (aa), 2B Del Lange (aa), C Milt Leonard (aa), sp Timothy Wolf (NYY), sp Julio Martin (PIT)
Players Lost: Lonny Ibarra, Alex Gabriel, Pedro Ortega, Hersh Taylor, Clint Kirk, Mike Gonzales, Vladimir Avila, Brian Kwon, Paul Shin, Sherman Coleman
The Tigers have their backs against the wall after another poor season. Jdrake added another 100 loss season to his resume last year, and has only had two seasons since season 12 where he even reached 70 wins. A lot of prospects are waiting in the wings and they are making an appearance this year. Sanchez, Lange, and Leonard are on their way up and others have joined the squad on offense to possibly give the Tigers claws. They could reach 800 runs this season.
The big spending in the offseason went towards two pitchers, Wolf and Martin. They should improve on their 1000 runs allowed last season, but will it be enough to become respectable?
Overall, the Tigers continue to sit in the cellar in the AL North. With a lot of good teams in that division and in the AL overall, don’t expect too much of an improvement. They won’t lose 100 games at least.
Prediction: 72-90, 4th place