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March 4, 1998

Lineupectomy: AL Central

This week's patient: the AL Central

by Joe Sheehan

Lineupectomies attempt to construct the best possible usage of players within an organization. They will occasionally recommend that a player who is a regular be benched, or that a bit player be given a starting job. Please note that the articles deal with what we believe should happen, not what will happen.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Offensively, not much different from the team that stumbled home after the "white flag" trades. Some B hitting prospects should get playing time, but the offensive scars at shortstop and catcher, even in the post-Offisa and Ozzie era, continue to hamper the offense. Chris Snopek, listed as the starting shortstop, should play ahead of Benji Gil, but behind Mike Caruso.

vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Durham 2B	Cameron CF
Cameron CF	Snopek SS
Thomas DH	Thomas 1B
Belle LF	Belle DH
Ventura 3B	Ventura 3B
Abbott RF	Abbott LF
Valdez 1B	Ordonez RF
Kreuter C	O'Brien C
Snopek SS	Durham 2B
CLEVELAND INDIANS

Lots of weapons, and all too willing to shoot themselves in the foot with the ones that jam and misfire. Brian Giles is likely to be underutilized, but that's unlikely to cost the Indians more than 3-4 games of what should be a 10-12 game romp over this division.

It's completely unrealistic to expect Jim Thome to play some third base to effectively create a Casey/Fryman platoon, so we've ignored the option.

vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Lofton CF	Lofton CF
Giles LF	Wilson 2B
Ramirez Rf	Ramirez RF
Thome 1B	Berroa DH
Justice DH	Justice LF
Alomar C	Alomar C
Fryman 3B	Thome 1B
Vizquel SS	Fryman 3B
Wilson 2B	Vizquel 2B

DETROIT TIGERS

Their inability to find real hitters for the left field and DH slots, and the lack of good offense up the middle, will weigh down the Tigers. Please note that right now, Frank Catalanatto's health is a question mark. If he can't play, Joe Randa should be the everyday 3B, and the lineup would change somewhat. Deivi Cruz is out until May, but whoever plays shortstop should bat ninth. We split the playing time at catcher between Joe Oliver and Papo Casanova 50-50, as opposed to platooning either of them.

vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Gonzalez DH	Roberts DH
Catalanatto 3B	Easley 2B
Higginson LF	Higginson LF
Clark 1B	Clark 1B
Encarnacion RF	Encarnacion RF
Easley 2B	Randa 3B
Casanova        Casanova
 /Oliver C       /Oliver C
Hunter CF	Hunter CF
Cruz            Cruz
 /B. Ripken SS	 /B. Ripken SS

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

There's a table-game strategy that you'll occasionally see when a team is slumping. A manager will pick his starters, then toss them on the floor to determine a lineup. In light of the personnel in Kansas City this year, Tony Muser might want to consider this early and often.

vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Offerman 2B	Offerman 2B
Myers RF	Damon CF
Damon CF	Conine DH
Sutton 1B	Sutton 1B
Sweeney C	Sweeney C
Je. Giambi LF	Dye RF
Conine DH	King 3B
King 3B		Je. Giambi LF
Biancalana SS	Jazayerli SS

MINNESOTA TWINS

Having abandoned the practice of playing young players with potential, the Twins will now play older players with the same expected value and no upside. In all fairness, this team could score enough runs to stay around .500, but it's unlikely that will happen with Otis Nixon, Paul Molitor and Terry Steinbach consuming 1300 outs.

vs. RHP		vs. LHP
Latham CF	Latham CF
Walker 2B	Walker 2B
Cordova LF	Cordova LF
Lawton DH	Coomer 3B
Ortiz 1B	Steinbach C
Koskie 3B	Ochoa RF
Merced RF	Molitor DH
Steinbach C	Ortiz 1B
Meares SS	Meares SS

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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