This is the first of what will be many check-ins on the other teams in the AL Central division. It will basically be a summary of blog entries over the past week, with links to the posts in case you want to read more. The idea is that you know what fans of the White Sox, Indians, Royals, and Tigers are thinking, and what that means for the Twins. These aren't necessarily my opinions as the point is to bring you other bloggers' thoughts. I plan to make this a weekly series, but I don't have a specific day I'll be posting it on--though Friday or Saturday seems most likely as of now.
==>Out in Chicago, some are worried about Alexei Ramirez's struggles and his extreme tendency to pull the ball. But there seems to be a consensus that Jayson Nix is not the answer; as a .125 career hitter, they don't think his defense would be nearly enough of an upgrade, if an upgrade at all, at short (or second, in place of Chris Getz). He is in the middle of a rehab assignment though, and the White Sox are thinking of bringing him back to the big leagues; they also may be worried about losing him (they'd have to designate him for assignment otherwise). The bloggers wouldn't mind at all.
There are also nervous fans abound in regard to the White Sox starting pitching. Jose Contreras' forkball isn't working, and he seems lost without it, particularly against left-handed hitters. Bartolo Colon also is not an answer, as his stuff has diminished to the point where his control has to be absolutely perfect for him to be effective (I guess it was against the Twins?).
==>Just as with the Twins, the Indian bullpen is having its share of problems. Rafael Perez has been awful thus far after being a key piece in the past. Because of that, the Indians have called up Tony Sipp to replace him as the LOOGY (Perez will likely move to long relief) and sent down Zach Johnson.
Though hitting hasn't been their problem, the Indians may not want to continue putting Trevor Crowe on the field. Indians fans are getting excited about Matt LaPorta, who could replace Crowe and is considered by some to be their #1 prospect, as he is currently sporting a 1.082 OPS in the minors.
At least one blogger thinks this series against the Twins will be a very good gauge of where the Indians stand, so I guess the answer would be "not good". The same blogger predicts that the Twins will finish first in the AL Central, thanks to their starting pitching, young hitters, and improvement at third base (signing Joe Crede).
==>Joel Zumaya will return to the Tigers today, with Eddie Bonine being sent down to make room. This gives the Tigers a pretty good core in the bullpen (Zumaya, Bobby Seay, Fernando Rodney, and Ryan Perry).
Marcus Thames, on the other hand, will not be back anytime soon. Ryan Raburn, Jeff Anderson, and Josh Larish will continue filling in at designated hitter/outfield. Thames was expected to be the primary DH in 2009.
And Tiger fans are also unhappy with their announcers--it's not just a Minnesota thing. I totally agree with that blogger, though; at least we don't have to listen to the "clowns that do the Whites Sox games".
==>More bullpen notes, as Royals fans are not happy with Trey Hillman's usage of it. Specifically, they're bothered by Kyle Farnsworth pitching in close games and Joakim Soria not getting the ball with the tying run in scoring position in a non-save situation. That being said, Soria is now out with a sore shoulder.
With Jose Guillen set to return from an injury, Kansas City DFA'd third-string catcher Brayan Pena. With Miguel Olivo and John Buck still around, this doesn't change much of anything.
Also, in case you haven't heard, Zack Greinke is having a spectacular start to the season. He allowed his first run yesterday (and it was unearned), bringing him to 29 innings, 19 hits, a 36:6 strikeout to walk ratio, and 2 complete games in four starts.
That about does it. Come back tomorrow for a weekend wrap-up!