American League Central Predictions

American League Central Predictions
By Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
March 23, 2006

Passan: Gazing into the crystal ball

Division Predictions: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

 MLB Division Predictions: AL Central
Proj Team (Projected 2006 Record)
 1 Chicago White Sox 98-64
Overview: The World Series champions landed Javier Vazquez to give them a rotation with five potential No. 1 starters. They traded for Jim Thome, who is a 35-homer lock if his balky back doesn't freeze up. They lost a couple of middle relievers, but there is so much depth in their system that they can trade for bullpen help if necessary. The only thing in the way of a Chicago repeat could be the division rival chasing them.
 2 Cleveland Indians 95-67
Overview: Why, exactly, the doomsday scenarios for the Indians? Because Kevin Millwood is gone? With the money they would have spent on him, Cleveland will lock up Grady Sizemore in addition to Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez. Worries about Coco Crisp? Just watch what Jason Michaels does in a full season, and then remember that Andy Marte will solve the franchise's third-base problem. Lost a couple middle relievers? Bobby Howry was a scrap-heap signing, much like Steve Karsay, who looks tremendous.
 3 Minnesota Twins 85-77
Overview: Questions about their lineup will dog the Twins until they show they can score some runs. Because the pitching is there, as always, with Johan Santana looking like Randy Johnson, minus 8 inches, Brad Radke and Carlos Silva the game's two best practitioners of control, Francisco Liriano waiting to live up to all the hype and Joe Nathan as money as closers get. That said, the development of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett will make or break the Twins now and in the future.
 4 Detroit Tigers 66-96
Overview: It is an impressive collection of names Dave Dombrowski has assembled, yet something about the Tigers just doesn't feel right. We're still waiting for Jeremy Bonderman to become an elite starter, wondering if Magglio Ordoez really is worth $70 million, wanting to know if Todd Jones, at 38, can repeat his last season – wary, frankly, that the Tigers are anything more than a bunch of pieces thrown together, ones that even Jim Leyland won't be able to harness.
 5 Kansas City Royals 65-97
Overview: Well, they won't lose 100 games this year. That is the good news for the Royals. The bad news is that Zack Greinke, their should-be No. 1 starter, has emotional issues and no one knows when he'll return to the team. And that Mark Redman and Mike MacDougal, their ace and closer, will probably start the season on the disabled list. And that signing Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek and Scott Elarton doesn't undo the kneecapping of GM Allard Baird by those who hold the franchise's purse strings.

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Updated on Thursday, Mar 23, 2006 1:32 pm, EST

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