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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Butler’

As good as the AL East is, the opposite may be true of the AL Central. I don’t project any of the five teams to win 90 games – and two could lose more than 100. This is a division that is loaded with teams filled with mediocre talent. In fact, the most interesting team to watch may be the Royals, if only because they may actually have days where they start 9 rookies.

The best of the worst is, once again, the Minnesota Twins. Projected to win the Central by three games, they’ll win based on sound fundamental play, two star players (Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer) and because they’ll be able to bottom feed on 36 games with two of the worst teams since the St. Louis Browns. The starting rotation is suspect, featuring the injury prone tandem of Francisco Liriano and Carl “Strained Buttocks” Pavano. The strongest element of last year’s division winning team, the bullpen, was wracked by free-agent defections – meaning this year’s pen relies on the much-traveled Matt Capps and a not-quite-healthy Joe Nathan. In fact, injury carry-overs from last year could get the Twins out of the gate slowly, as nobody is quite sure if Morneau is sufficiently recovered from last season’s concussion to play first full time yet. If they do start slowly, the crown my well fall to Chicago.

The White Sox made quite a splash this off-season, re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and landing Adam Dunn as their new DH. Unfortunately, they would have been better off looking for a starting 3rd baseman and a couple of outfielders, because the current line-up may be one of baseball’s worst group of defenders we’ve seen in a while. Which is a shame, because the Pale Hose have the makings of an outstanding pitching staff – perhaps the best in baseball. If Jake Peavy returns to form after his pectoral tear, they’ll have 6 quality starters and a bullpen that features a bevy of quality (if not nationally known) arms. But the offense will once again be a classic three-outcome type, as typified by Dunn: walk, strike-out or homer. Don’t expect much in the way of sustained rallies or guys flying around the bases at US Cellular Field.

The Tigers look destined for a distant third place finish. The best thing going for this team is that they’re managed by future Hall-of-Famer Jim Leyland. But the star player, Miguel Cabrera, is turning into baseball’s version of Charlie Sheen. Actually, Detroit’s middle of the order could feature some good players, with the addition of Victor Martinez joining Magglio Ordonez. The rest of the supporting cast, though, is supect, featuring such luminaries as Brandon Inge. The back of the bullpen could be solid, if Joaquin Benoit can prove last year wasn’t a fluke, Joel Zumaya can stay healthy and Jose Valverde can stop his decline. But both the starting rotation and middle relief corps are a mess. Aside from Justin Verlander, the Tigers are relying on converted relievers, reclamation projects and prayers.

The youth movement is in full swing in Kansas City. After their farm system was ranked #1 by Baseball America, they might as well give the kids a shot – nothing else has worked for the past 20 years. Yes, they traded away Zack Greinke and made a couple of curious signings in old friend Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer. But KC’s real aim this year is to see if youngsters Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Kila Ka’aihue and Eric Hosmer are ready for prime time.

Bringing up the rear is the Cleveland Indians. Once again, the Tribe is looking more like “The Mistake by the Lake” instead of a major-league team. They do have a bona-fide star in Shin-Soo Choo and a star in the making in catcher Carlos Santana. But otherwise, Cleveland is hoping Grady Sizemore shows enough that he can become a viable trade chip. I’m pretty sure Cleveland fans have to be wondering what they’ve done to deserve the Cavaliers, Browns, and this abomination of a baseball team.

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OK, Yankees Fans: we are now in the home stretch of the 2010 trade season and so far the Bronx Bombers have… well, they’ve bombed on getting any fresh blood, much less an impact type of player. That being said, neither have the Red Sox or the Rays so the status quo in the AL East remains. It seems rather hard to believe that July 31 will come and go without one of the premier teams in the East doing something to try to separate themselves from the others. So here’s a quick link dump on what’s being whispered about by various sources:

*Jayson Stark reports that the Yankees tried to pry away Joakim Soria by offering Jesus Montero. That seems to confirm a report from John Heyman, but I remain doubtful. As much as I’d love to see Soria wearing Pinstripes, that simply is a trade that doesn’t match up well. KC’s farm system is well stocked at catcher and first base, so as big a bat as Montero looks to be; he would have nowhere to play in KC (unless the Royals could move Jose Guillen to another team and slide Billy Butler to the primary DH role, or jettison Jason Kendall).

*Heyman also mentions in the same report that the Yankees seem more intent on picking up bench help, mentioning Ty Wiggington, Cody Ross and Jhonny Peralta by name. Personally, I wouldn’t Peralta anywhere near this team, even as a bench player. His defense is suspect at both short and third; and his bat is now slider-speed, at best. I still like Ross as a fourth outfielder. Wiggington would be interesting; he has a reputation as good clubhouse guy and immediately seems to go on a tear whenever he joins a new team. But I doubt the Orioles will trade him within the division.

*There are numerous reports, including from Heyman, Stark and Bob Klapisch, about Adam Dunn, and they all say basically the same thing: the Nationals asking price is beyond exorbitant.

*One final note from Heyman: he tweeted earlier today that he thought the Yankees have interest in Ted Lilly, but not Roy Oswalt. For our sakes, I hope he’s wrong and the Yanks don’t even bother asking about Lilly. And from everything we’ve heard, the Astros price for Oswalt is typical Drayton McClane; which is to say it’s a lot like those old “Crazy Eddie” commercials – INSANE!!!

*Klapisch also wonders what it will take to fix Joba Chamberlain. I think most Yankee fans are wondering what it will take to convince Brian Cashman to trade Joba Chamberlain, especially after he nearly blew an 8-run lead yesterday. Even Joe Girardi sounded exasperated after Joba’s latest meltdown. (You got me. It’s not really a trade rumor. But even long-time Joba supporters like me are starting to think it might be time for him to go.)

*Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi suggested that the Yanks and Red Sox are bidding against each other in pursuit of Scott Downs. I wonder if Toronto is trying to inflate Downs’ price, though. Although, Downs would be a significant upgrade over Chan Ho Park.

That’s all that seems to be percolating in the Bronx today. I suppose we can only hope that the reports about the Rays interest in Chad Qualls is more than speculation. J

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