With spring training camps now underway, we here at Walkoff Walk should really get off our rumps and start taking a look at the pole positioning for premium positions among the six divisions. With the country stuck in the dregs of the Xtreme Depressionⓒ, folks'll be working extra hard to get the premium salaries that come along with starting jobs. Today, we look at the American League Central:
- Cleveland Indians rear-end rotation: Besides reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and stud Dominican Fausto Carmona, Indians manager Eric Wedge has some tough choices to make filling out the rest of his starting staff. With Jake Westbrook having his elbow ligaments replaced with orangutan scrotums, Wedge seems to think Bronx pariah Carl Pavano is ready and willing to fill out the third slot. But remember, being ready and willing does not necessarily make one able. Looking past to slots four and five, Wedge can decide from the grab bag of Anthony Reyes, Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, Zach Jackson, David Huff, Scott Lewis, Kirk Saarloos and Tomo Ohka for the leftover 75 to 80 games. Huff was a stud lefty last year at Triple-A Buffalo while the other young southpaw Lewis went 4-0 in four impressive late season starts last year for the big club.
- Minnesota Twins third base: GARY GAETTI IS NOT WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR, PEOPLE. Really, he's been banned from the Twins clubhouse for inappropriate contact with Harmon Killebrew's daughter. Filling out the hot corner for the Minnesota nine this year will be either Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris, or if Ron Gardenhire's wishes come true, former White Sock Joe Crede. Tough nuts for Brian if Crede signs because the lefty Buscher would make a fine, fine platoon with the righty Harris. Offensively, Crede has the advantage despite a glaring inability to draw walks. Heck, he's got the advantage defensively too. But between the actual current Twins, I'm giving the nod to Harris for having a slightly better glove.
- Detroit Tigers closer: I just found this Jerry Crasnick piece on ESPN that I totally would have been stealing from if I hadn't just discovered it. Anyway, he has the Tigers closer as the 7th most compelling contribution of Spring Training. Now that our own Todd Jones has retired, there is an enormous dumb vacuum in the Detroit bullpen. They've obtained former Diamondback closer Brandon Lyon who had some rough patches shutting down ninth innings last season. Past Lyon, there are Tiger vets Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, both of whom are adept at striking out major league hitters but also prone to giving up walks. Actually, Rodney walked in the winning run in a loss to the Rays last year. I see Lyon winning this job and being demoted some time in May.
- Kansas City Royals manager: Royals skipper Trey Hillman was the only major league manager to receive less ink (pixels?) on this here weblog than Pirates head honcho John Russell last year. He compiled a satisfactory 75-87 record in his first season of USA managing after five years in Japan where he took the Nippon Ham Fighters to a championship in 2006. So what does that all mean now? If his Royals take a big fat step backwards in 2009, it might mean curtains for Hillman and might force owner David Glass to import another ex-NPB manager. Heck, anything that keeps Bobby V. out of New York City is okay with me.
- Chicago White Sox second base: With Alexei Ramirez shifting from second to short to replace the departed Orlando Cabrera, an opportunity has arisen for White Sox youngster Chris Getz to make a splash. Marcel projects Getz to have a tidy .768 OPS next year but Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix are lurking. Getz is a great option for an obviously-rebuilding team, but there's a perfectly better option on the market for a team that wants to open up their purses a bit.