Chicago White Sox
Chris Sale will hope to build off his sensational season and anchor a White Sox rotation that will return John Danks. The power guys of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn will lead the lineup but will need Alex Rios to contribute and someone to fill the catching vacancy left by A.J. Pierzynski. The rotation is average but the Sox have a very solid bullpen with Matt Thornton and the young flamethrower Addison Reed. Dont expect the South Siders to win the division, but they will be competing for a post season berth in September.
A new era begins in Cleveland with Terry Francona as manager. Gone are familiar names like Travis Hafner, and Shin- Soo Choo, who have been replaced with veterans Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn Cleveland is still waiting for Ubaldo Jimenez to be the ace they expected him to be when he was acquired from Colorado a few seasons ago. The playoffs are a long shot for this team which is in rebuilding mode. (Glenn Coyle)
Depending on your point of view the Tigers either outperformed expectations in 2012 or horrifically fell short. Late in
the year Jose Valverde’s stuff deteriorated and going into 2013 the Tigers still don’t have the closer’s role established. Bruce Rondon will likely get a shot, but committee may be the way to go. Detroit overpaid for Torrii Hunter in the off-season, but with the team around him and the return of Victor Martinez the Tigers may have a better offense in 2013. That’s a scary thought with the triple crown winner and a pitching staff with potentially 4 top end rotation guys in Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez. Detroit may not return to the World Series but they should be a better all around ballclub start to finish in 2013. (Michael Bedard)
Kansas City Royals
Many thought that 2012 would be a breakout season for the consistently struggling Royals franchise. Unfortunately for the Kansas City faithful this wasn’t the case. Injuries, unfulfilled potential and an overall lack of pitching depth sunk the Royals fortunes as they finished with yet another 90-loss season. Exceptions once again are sky high heading into the new season as the Royals return with a youthful lineup that appears ready to break out. Eric Hosmer will be a key factor in the offensive fortunes for the Royals, as his sophomore struggles of 2012 had a rippling effect on the Royals young lineup. A healthy Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez could bring a spark to a lineup that also consists of the veteran DH Billy Butler. The biggest factor in Kansas City will the the pitching staff, specifically the starting rotation. The Royals acquired James Shields, Wade Davis & Ervin Santana during the offseason which should help stabilize a staff which used veteran journeyman Bruce Chen as their #1 starter just one year ago. The bullpen has the potential to be among the best in the big leagues, but potential on paper and field execution are two very different things. 2013 is a big year for the Kansas City Royals. Will they continue down the path as an American League doorstep or are they on the cusp of great things? The journey begins in less then two weeks. (Mike Orzechowski)