Sunday, January 16, 2011

AL North Offseason Report

Let's start our offseason review in the AL North, where the Tigers made perhaps Kinsella's biggest single move. They plopped down $74 million to sign former Atlanta and Philly slugger, 4-time MVP and dead-lock Hall of Famer Dee Dee Hutton for 5 years.

Dee Dee will be charged with reviving an offense that scored only 714 runs last year, and he'll be getting some added help. Detroit has also signed CF Wilt Benes, a speedy lefty-swinging CF with an eagle eye. The move may allow Damian Chen to move in to second base against righties, bumping Trenidad Ruiz to a utility and vL platooner role.

Tigers GM jdrake27 had some optimistic comments about the signings: "Well, it was a pretty easy decision. I had the cap room and wanted to try to spark my offense. Hutton is clearly a monster so I am hoping he'll be my older version of Miggy Cabrera. I like the speed of Benes and am hoping he'll be my Austin Jackson. I think Graves and company produce this year as well, so between that and the two signings I'm hoping I can make a run at a playoff spot."

Detroit's spending contrasts with division champ Chicago, who seems content to keep developing its pipeline of young talent. Flash Tessmer, a Season 10 1st-rounder, appears ready to join the already-impressive staff.

Toronto started strong last year but faded due to pitching, and they've hit both the trade market and free agency to address that. Trades landed reliever Buddy Lawson and starter Spike Henley (they also swapped CF's with Montreal, getting Manuel Martin); a late FA signing brought in SP Rusty Little. They've also jumped Season 11's #1, 1B Victor Blanco, from AA to the Bigs...he looks like he's ready.

The Twins tapped free agency for a trio of hitters: Darryl Whitaker, who was the cheapest 100 RBI money could buy last year; Jesus Figueroa, a solid OF defender who could also see 3B action; and Lonny Chavez, a bargain at $4.8mm per year. They also promoted Season 9's #1 pick, fireballing SP John Pryce.

Looks like everybody in the North could be better this year. The Sox still have to be the odds-on favorite to win the division, but keep an eye on the Tigers as a dark-horse wild card contender.

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