Friday, March 28, 2008

A Preview A Day Keeps the Winter Away, #27 & #28

For the month of March I will be doing a season preview, with a new team each day, going in alphabetical order by team so I can save the Yankees for last, because I am, in fact, that devious.

As this is a Yankees' blog, the previews for AL East teams will be more detailed than those of AL Central and AL West teams, and any AL team previews will be more detailed than NL team previews, save maybe for the Mets. Each preview will involve consideration of how much 'threat' a team is to the Yankees, for fairly obvious reasons.

Up today: The Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins

At first glance, these AL Central teams look like they're heading in opposite directions. Detroit's recently stocked up with Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, while Minnesota unloaded ace Johan Santana for....Phillip Humber?

Detroit is by far the easier team to read.

They are in a win-now mode, and with Magglio Ordoñez, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Placido Polanco and now Miguel Cabrera in the line-up, it's hard to see how the team won't score 1000 runs this season.

Detroit's problem--and it could easily be one big enough to keep them from the postseason--is twofold: A very questionable pitching staff and the injury bug. In fact, these two things are combined in the personages of Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya, though you have to feel for Zumaya who injured his shoulder while moving furniture from those massive California wildfires last fall.

Still, outside of Justin Verlander, the Tigers' rotation does not inspire a terrible lot of confidence. Dontrelle Willis is coming over from the National League, on many accounts a league simply not as good as the American, and he did not have a great year last year. While he's young, he's not that young: he was on the Marlins when they won in 2003. Kenny Rogers is on the wrong side of 40 (for a pitcher not named Satchel Paige, anyway). Bonderman can be really good. Or not.

Worse for the Tigers, their bullpen is currently resting on the shoulders of Todd Jones, and not Joel Zumaya or Fernando Rodney.

Tigers threat to the Yankees: Orange, exercise extreme caution.

Despite the pitching question marks, the Tigers line up is that good, and if the Yankees falter or suffer a large growing pain, the Tigers could easily step in and make life very difficult.

The Twins are a harder team to read. On one hand, they lost franchise player Torii Hunter to the Angels and traded Johan Santana--the best player on the team, and one of the best pitchers in the entirety of baseball, and got next to nothing in return (as far as we can tell). On the other, they signed Joe Nathan, one of the game's best closers through to 2012.

Perhaps Francisco Liriano can come back from missing last season; but the fact that Livan Hernandez is the Twins' #2 starter is not encouraging in any sense of the word.

It's kind of confusing; a few years ago the Twins were a legitimate playoff team, and they could have easily built on a strong roster, but instead they seem to have gone all Florida Marlins on it. Strange times.

Threat to the Yankees: Yellow, Exercise Caution

They're not an NL team and we do play them. Liriano and Bonser could come through and surprise people. However, this is not a team that is likely thinking about October.

1 comment:

  1. I know that everybody says that Detroit has a great team, but I agree with you that their pitching staff is suspect.They have a lot of injuries and I am not sure that Willis will do well in the AL. His ERA last season was 5 in the NL!

    As for Minnesota I think they are rebuilding as evidenced by the fact they did not attempt to sign Hunter and they let Santana go.