The Detroit Tigers have one of the most talented pitchers in the Majors (Justin Verlander), one of the best power hitters in the game (Prince Fielder) and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player (Miguel Cabrera)…so the AL Central should be easy to win, right? Kind of.
After Verlander, the rest of the Tigers starting rotation are inconsistent. When Verlander started, the Tigers were 21-12. In games without him, Detroit was only 67-62.
Will the Tigers go forward with their current rotation or will they make a few trades?
Victor Martinez is back from his knee injury. Will be produce at the same level as 2011, or has he lost a step?
The Walt Weiss era begins in Denver this season. He takes over a team with a lot of problems. The most glaring issue is their pitching. When Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin are at the top of your rotation, you’re doing something wrong. Drew Pomeranz, the centerpiece in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, is not where they expected him to be. He’s only 24, so there’s still time for him to turn into a #1 starter.
The rest of the team lacks an identity. I hope Weiss focuses on defense, because their pitching staff isn’t going to help them.
All the familiar faces are gone in Cleveland. You won’t find Grady Sizemore stealing the hearts of women in the stands, Travis Hafner selling Pronk Bars while on the disabled list or Fausto Carmona, I mean Roberto Hernandez trying to find a new identity.
Terry Francona is the new major for the Cleveland Indians. He brings baggage from how his Red Sox tenure ended…and Daisuke Matsuzaka. He doesn’t have as much pressure on him to succeed, which will be something new for him.
Will high priced free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn produce in their first season with the Tribe?
Will Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera lead the Indians to an improbable playoff berth?
In 2012, the Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central by nine games, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Walt Jocketty, the general manager of the Reds, doesn’t want to just make the playoffs, he wants to win. He made a trade in the offseason to acquire Shin-Soo Choo, a move shows the Reds are built to win now.
The biggest offseason news was the decision to move Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation. He was such a dominant relief pitcher, but the transition has been successful with pitchers in the past. Will Chapman succeed as a starter?
Now that Joey Votto is healthy, will have another MVP caliber year?
The Chicago White Sox have been perennial contenders in the AL Central. They’ve had a lean season and bounce right back the next year. They have relied on pitching during this stretch. It is a consistent way to build a team.
In order for a pitching staff to meet its potential, you need a good game-calling cather. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been that guy and he was in Chicago during its recent success. They will be without him this season since he signed with the Texas Rangers this offseason. They will rely on an unproven catcher in Tyler Flowers.
Will the pitching staff struggle without Pierzynski?
The Chicago Cubs are in the middle of rebuilding their team the right way, through the draft. They are avoiding the offseason barrage of high-priced free agents, which was their vice during the final years of the Chicago Tribune ownership. The new owners, the Ricketts family lured Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox before last season and ended the season with 101 losses in 2012.
Cubs fans aren’t expecting a World Series championship in 2013, but they want to see improvement. A few young prospects are expected to be called up at some point and those are the players the fans will have an interest in.
Should fans expect an All-Star season from Anthony Rizzo?
Will Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano be traded at some point this season?
Boston Red Sox fans wish they could erase the 2012 from the record books. The season had every problem imaginable. Manager Bobby Valentine ripped players in the media and lost the team early, veteran mainstays like Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis was sent packing and prized offseason signings from a year ago were send to the Dodgers in an epic salary dump.
The Red Sox are a much different team than took the field on Opening Day last season. That’s good and bad news for Red Sox Nation.
Will Jacob Ellsbury regain his MVP-caliber 2011 form?
Can new manager John Farrell get the pitching staff straightened out or will they have to make more trades?
The Baltimore Orioles had a Cinderella season last year. They came into the year with unproven talent mixed with a handful of veterans who were expected to just fill out the roster. They took advantage of a down year for the Red Sox and had many lucky bounces along the way.
Their #1 prospect infielder Manny Machado was added last season and contributed right away. I expect him to take another jump in 2013. He will be a nice complement to Adam Jones in the lineup for the foreseeable future.
Will any of their young arms mature enough to make an impact in the Majors?
Can the Orioles shock everybody again and make the playoffs for a second year in a row?