Friday, October 18, 2013

AL Central Preview Review

The 2013 regular season has ended.  The AL Central has produced a team that has made it to at least the ALCS.  In addition, the Indians made the Wild Card game and the Royals had a pretty decent season.  The Twins and White Sox battled heroically for last place, with the White Sox emerging victorious.  Prior to the season, I did some predictin'.  I looked at each of the AL Central teams' offseason moves and came to some wild & crazy kids conclusions.  When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I had one thing in mind:  accountability.  I wanted to have a record of all the stupid and sometimes (rarely) insightful things that pop into my mind on a given day.  Who better to call myself out than me?  I know me really well. 

BTW, I predicted the following order before the season:

Preview Predicted Order
Actual Order
Kansas City
Kansas City

I mean, 1/5 is really not that bad. 

So, here is the dumbest and most smrt thing that I said about each team during the previews.  If you really want to read previews from a season that already happened, here is the Tigers preview with links to the others. 


Dumb:  Phil Coke emerged in the ALCS and could ride his confidence/quirkiness to a successful season.  In fact, you could argue that Phil Coke is the Zooey Deschanel of the Tigers.

Ok, I can't say that I really remember what this was in reference to.  I think there were a lot of New Girl promos and Phil Coke was a weirdo or something.  The successful season part was incorrect.  Coke was terrible and injured in 2013.  On the plus side, I have gotten a surprising amount of Google traffic from people searching for Zooey Deschanel.  Those people must be so confused.

Smrt:  Addition by Subtraction - Valverde, who was overrated when he was good and mostly bad last year.  Young, as no one in Detroit as to worry that Delmon will run into a dam while chasing a fly ball and flood the whole city.

Ha!  Roasted, Delmon.  I even drew a picture to commemorate that sick burn:

Ah, memories.  Replacing Young with Torii Hunter was a former Twins upgrade.  Valverde was actually brought back early in 2013 due to issues with the Tigers bullpen.  He was released after 19.1 hungry innings. 

Kansas City

Dumb:  Mike Moustakas is solid.

Well, this is just plain inaccurate.  Moustakas was the second overall pick back in 2007.  After seeing a huge jump in his WAR in 2012 (mostly from defense), he plummeted to negative WAR in 2013.  He's only 25 and not arbitration eligible until 2015, but I'd bet the Royals are already looking at potential long-term replacements.  His OBP sunk to .287 last season.  Yuck; not solid.

Smrt:  Their bullpen is crazy talented.

This is accurate.  According to Fangraphs, the Kansas City bullpen provided 7.3 WAR, second only to Texas.  They had a 2.55 ERA and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.  Greg Holland was ludicrous.  Luke Hochevar made the transition from albatross starter to extremely effective reliever.  Louis Coleman, Tim Collins, Will Smith, Aaron Crow, the list goes on.  They were even able to overcome some regression from Kelvin Herrera, who still looks great to me despite a near 4 ERA.  Goodness.


Dumb:  All that being said, there is serious talent on this roster.

Nope, not true.  Chris Sale and Addison Reed are talented.   Jose Quintana is talented.  Alex Rios and Jake Peavy are talented, but were traded.  Paul Konerko is talented, but he's old.  Alexei Ramirez plays a mean short.  Other than that, there isn't a lot of actual talent on the roster.  Serious talent was an overstatement.  Moderate talent would have been more appropriate, but possibly still too strong. 

Smrt:  The offense scored runs, but might be worse than in 2012.

I really felt their collapse in my bones.  I should have written "will" instead of "might."  In the early days of this blog, I wanted to remain non-confrontational.  I've emerged as a shock jock and shock jock Brad would have used "will."  Regardless, their offense went from 7th in the Majors in 2012 to 29th in 2013.  Paul Konerko retired (not really, but figuratively), Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo regressed, and Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham improved, but were still unimpressive.  Adam Dunn lead this offense with a 103 OPS+ and he hit .219.  Just awful; and I felt it and I wasn't confident about it.  Never again!


Dumb:  Bauer is pretty close to MLB ready, so he might even help in 2013.

I had this odd affinity for Trevor Bauer.  I guess I just love complex warm-up routines or something.  I liked that he had a mix of pitches and I guess I got ahead of myself.  Bauer did not help the Indians in 2013.  He only made four starts and only lasted through 17 innings in those starts.  He walked everyone and didn't fare much better in AAA.  A lot of experts think he needs to lose some pitches.  I guess he'll have to adapt or die, as they say.  I still hold out some long-term hope, but I'm not sure he helps much in 2014.

Smrt:  2013 might not be a playoff season, but the future is fairly bright in Cleveland.

Yes, I was wrong about 2013.  However, the bright future part does look pretty smart in hindsight.  The Indians were the 5th worst team in baseball in 2012.  They traded one of their best offensive players in the off-season.  Yet, I thought the moves they made were very impressive.  I wrote this before the signed Michael Bourn, although I have to admit that signing would not have made me put them any higher than 3rd in the division.  All that being said, their future is bright and I'm not so sure that was the general sentiment around them in February.  If nothing else, it is definitely the most intelligent statement in that preview.  So that's something.

Your Minnesota Twins

Dumb:  Addition by Subtraction – Matt Capps, but only for fan sanity.  I still think he has something to give a team.

I was right about the addition by subtraction part.  Matt Capps did have something to give a team too!  7 AAA innings.  That's it.  That's what Matt Capps did last summer.  The Indians just re-signed him yesterday and I can't imagine they will get less out of him in 2014.  He's still just 30.  It's baffling, but he must be one of those guys who's 40 when he's 25.  You know, those guys.

I was pretty on point with the Twins going into 2013.  I had low expectations, but felt the team had gotten better organizationally.  I thought the offense would struggle and the pitching would be basically the same as it had been in 2012.  I thought the bullpen was good and I thought that the good players would be good players.  The problem was that there weren't a lot of good players on the team.  Here is how I ended my preview:

Predicted Division Finish -  5th.  Twins fans, it hurts.  Three straight last place finishes is on no one’s wish list.  However, one more bad season might be it.  There are really exciting players coming up through the farm system, and quite a few will be in Minnesota by 2014.  If things really click, the 2014 Twins could resemble the 2001 team that put this franchise back on the map after nearly a decade of losing.  Don’t lose hope and faith in this franchise.  All teams go through this (except the Yankees).  If you stick with this team, your patience will pay off.

I still believe all of that.  I truly believe that 2014 could be the start of a turnaround.  A lot rides on the moves made this off-season and the development of the organization's prospects, but 2014 could be a real turning point.  Next off-season, this paragraph could look ridiculous, but I'm not so sure it will.  I may be overly optimistic, but I don't think this is a basement-level franchise in the long-term.

I'm excited to write a 2014 preview.  The moves made this off-season will dictate whether 2014 is a 2001 or another 2013.

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