This is a tough division to handicap. Cleveland is making it tougher. Blog had to think about this one for an extra day or two.
Chicago White Sox - They’ve had a strong winter by addition (Adam LaRoche, Melky Cabrera, David Robertson at closer) and by subtracting basepath- and roster-cloggers. Chris Sale’s spring injury was a downer but the recent news is promising. If Sale gets right they should be in the mix in September. Can Micah Johnson hold onto the starting job at second base? If things go well you won’t hear about tension between LaRoche and Jose Abreu. Both of those guys expect start in the field against both lefties and righties. But the combination gives the team intriguing options.
Cleveland Indians - Blog loves addition of Brandon Moss to this lineup. They apparently don’t trust starting pitchers over 30 (if you don’t count Gavin Floyd and Bruce Chen, who are more or less irrelevant anyway). Very Woodstock. There are so many live arms on this squad that it’s hard to imagine a broad-based failure. But it’s possible. Some of them seem like knuckleheads to be 100 percent candid. So that could be a challenge for “players’ manager” Terry Francona. Can Cory Kluber repeat his otherworldly performance from 2014?
Detroit Tigers - They have done a great job staying competitive year upon year. Will the Yankees regret the three-team trade that saw starter Shane Greene go to Detroit? One is tempted to say success depends upon Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez staying healthy but with so much talent — Yoenis Cespedes, J.D. Martinez and Jose Iglesias in particular — Blog thinks the two old hands can play loose and sit more often.
Kansas City Royals - The 89-win Powder Blues regained consciousness Oct. 21 after winning eight straight playoff games and let the Giants out-grind them in the World Series. But to Blog the offseason body of work doesn’t inspire confidence. Free agents Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales don’t separate what has been a power-challenged offense. That job will have to fall to their trio of young stars Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas. Is Yordano Ventura good enough to lead a major league rotation? He might be, especially given their otherworldly bullpen. No starter here is likely to crack 200 innings this year.
Minnesota Twins - Uhhh. They’ve got some guys but Blog doesn’t really see Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana as the tickets back to the top of this tough division. What do people think about Hunter’s Hall of Fame chances? Blog guesses he’s kind of on the outside looking in. But, to paraphrase the departed Harold Ramis, Blog is willing to learn. You have to like them for last place again barring some kind of injury implosion by a division rival.
Predicted order of finish:
White Sox *
* wild card mix