February 28, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) poses for photo day in the rec room at the Detroit Tigers headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Back to Baseball: Around the American League Central

To help you get ready for opening day, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look around the division and see how the landscape has changed. The AL Central saw the addition of a new major star and the loss of an ace this winter. These teams will decide the fate of the Twins this season. Let’s see how they did.

Detroit Tigers:
The Detroit Tigers made the biggest splash in the division when they signed 1st Baseman Prince Fielder. Fielder was the second biggest prize in the free agent pool, coming from Milwaukee. Fielder had 38 home-runs and 120 RBIs last season. Fielder will man first for the Tigers, moving incumbent Miguel Cabrera to third. The Tigers also added reliever Octavio Dotel who had a 3.50 ERA in 65 appearances for the Blue Jays and Tigers. The Tigers lost Carlos Guillen, who saw a reduced role in 2011, to the Mariners. Victor Martinez is also out for the year after suffering a knee injury in the offseason. The Tigers will be the team to beat in the American League Central. It will be interesting to see how they fare on defense after making a move that trades solid infield defense for offensive fire power.

Chicago White Sox:
Kosuke Fukudome is making his way through the American League Central. His current stop is with the Chicago White Sox. After a disappointing start to his career, he will once again get a chance for revival in Chicago, the very city his MLB journey began. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets at Wrigley when the White Sox visit the Cubs on May 18th. The White Sox will have a tough time replacing their ace Mark Buehrle, who chose to join Jose Réyes in Miami. The Chicago White Sox are in rebuilding mode and it will be interesting to see how their team plays when they’re down and out in the middle of the summer.

Cleveland Indians:
The Cleveland Indians silently had a pretty good offseason. They added a trio of players that can come on and make an instant impact. Casey Kotchman comes to Cleveland from Tampa Bay where he hit .306 with 36 extra base hits in 500 at-bats. Fred Lewis regressed in a reduced role in Cincinnati, but he’s a veteran player that can help guide the young tribe. Andy LaRoche is 28 years old and at a crossroads in his career, expect him to be at 100% effort and have a bit of a breakthrough season. The Indians will be an interesting squad this season. I expect them to exceed expectations a little bit this season due to their willingness to try different lineups and play who’s hot.

Kansas City Royals:
Is this the year? Is this the year all the young talent the Royals have been hoarding for years “grows up.” With Gordon, Butler, and the recently-extended Perez, they’ll have a formidable lineup. They took a chance on Jonathan Broxton. Broxton missed most of last season with an injury, but when healthy, Broxton can be a dominant reliever. If he was to come back to form, it would definitely be a huge boost for the Royals. I have a soft spot for Royals fans and hope things really click this season.

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