Thursday, December 22, 2005


Off-Season Transaction Analysis - AL Central

Before we begin, a large BOO-YAH to my Yankees, signing my favourite leadoff guy Johnny Damon to a 4-year deal. The idea of a lineup that reads Damon, Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield, Giambi, Matsui, Posada, Williams and Cano makes my heart sing. Of course, it would be nice if the Yanks could land a good defensive first baseman and move Giambi to DH, but that's a small issue. Now shore up the bench, Mr. Cashman.

Let's see what's happening in the AL Central, shall we?

Chicago: I have already made mention of the Jim Thome signing, Frank Thomas' release and the re-signing of Paul Konerko. Yes, Thome cost Aaron Rowand, leaving a hole in centre field, but that can be fixed. Removing Thomas from the mix was key. In December, the White Sox suckered the D-Backs into taking Orlando Hernandez and spare parts for Javier Vazquez, who I still consider to be a plus starter. Plus, the White Sox re-upped another player integral to their World Series run, signing AJ Pierzynski to a 3-year deal. Factor in the acquisition of utility guy Rob Mackowiak from Pittsburgh and ridding themselves of Carl Everett and it looks like a good offseason for the champs. Direction - Up.

Cleveland: Danny Graves, Steve Karsay and Lou Merloni have all signed minor league deals with an invite to spring training. All three could have real value to an Indians team that needs to shore up the supporting roles on the bench and in the bullpen. Paul Byrd also helps out the rotation. They really need to get moving and re-sign Kevin Millwood. Direction - Neutral, up if they sign Millwood.

Detroit: Adding Kenny Rogers to the rotation and Todd Jones to the bullpen are both sound moves. However, that's about all the Tigers have done. In this division, that's not nearly enough. Plus, Ivan Rodriguez is rumoured to be unhappy. Not good. Direction - Down.

Kansas City: The lowest payroll in baseball will lead to another season of Mike Sweeney and good luck. KC is doing the best they can, signing Scott Elarton, Mark Grudzielanek, Doug Mientkiewicz and Paul Bako and trading for Mark Redman. Mientkiewicz and Grudzielanek are solid defensively, but their signings just seem so much like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what strands stick. Last place again. Direction - Down.

Minnesota: Decent offseason so far. The acquisition of Luis Castillo is a big help defensively and, if Castillo rediscovers his legs, at the top of the order too. If Tony Batista can plug in 25-30 HR and 80-100 RBI at third base and Rondell White can kick in 15-20 HR, the Twins will quickly forget Jacque Jones, who left to sign with the Cubs. Torii Hunter has to stay. Direction - Up.