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July 15, 2010

Mid-season Prescriptions

AL Central

by John Perrotto

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White Sox

The White Sox have ridden a great wave of momentum into first place by winning 25 of their last 30 games to go from 9 ½ games out on June 9 to a half-game ahead. Nevertheless, they could use another big bat, particularly from the left side, as they are averaging 4.52 runs a game. A left-handed power hitter would fit nicely and the White Sox have been linked to the Nationals' Adam Dunn and Astros' Lance Berkman for weeks. However, with right-hander Jake Peavy out for the season because of a torn late muscle, the White Sox could add another starter and instead and try to ride a strong rotation to the division title. The Astros' Roy Oswalt would fit nicely (and maybe the always-surprising Kenny Williams could get both him and Berkman in a blockbuster) and Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly or Diamondbacks right-hander Dan Haren would also fill the void nicely.

Tigers

The Tigers have been one of the game's overachieving teams as manager Jim Leyland has banded together a group of aging veterans and interesting kids into a contender. However, the Tigers are eighth in the league in runs allowed with an average of 4.53 per game and really need to find some help for All-Star closer Jose Valverde in the bullpen. There are a number of reliever who are potentially available in trades and any of them would be an upgrade, including the Mariners' David Aardsma and Brandon League, the Royals' Kyle Farnsworth, the Pirates' Octavio Dotel and the Brewers' Todd Coffey. A middle infield of shortstop Ramon Santiago and second baseman Carlos Guillen really isn't cutting it and the Tigers could use an upgrade like Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew and second baseman Kelly Johnson or the Cubs' Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot.

Twins

The Twins opened the season with a franchise-record payroll of $97 million and they may have to spend even more to repeat as division champions as they have gone from 4 ½ games ahead on June 11 to 3 ½ games behind. Though the Twins are fifth in the league with 4.23 runs allowed a game, they really could use a frontline starting pitcher who can stop losing streaks and be a workhorse. Oswalt and Haren would fit the bill and the Twins have a deep enough farm system to make that happen with catcher Wilson Ramos coveted by many clubs despite having a sub-par year in Triple-A. Outfielder Delmon Young, who seems ready to emerge as a star, could also be used as bait. At the very worst, the Twins could use a veteran for the middle of the rotation, someone like Lilly or the Athletics' Ben Sheets.

Royals

The Royals have certainly played better since Ned Yost replaced Trey Hillman as manager in May but the worst thing they could do is became enamored with the idea of trying to finish .500 for just the second time in 18 years. They are 39-49 and a longshot to get to breakeven. The Royals are considered to have the best farm system in the game—high-A first baseman Eric Hosmer had four hits in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Anaheim—and they should only be thinking of adding to it at the trade deadline by dealing veterans for prospects. Farnsworth, infielder Mike Aviles, right fielder David DeJesus and designated hitter Jose Guillen are all drawing some level of trade interest and the Royals should move them all if they can get decent deals.

Indians

The Indians are in the midst of a major rebuilding process after trading Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee at the last two deadlines. Anything the Indians do now to slow their youth movement would be counterproductive as catcher Carlos Santana looks like a future superstar and first baseman Matt LaPorta, center fielder Michael Brantley and closer-in-waiting Chris Perez all have promise. Right-hander Jake Westbrook should be worth something to a contender and reports that the Indians want to hang on to him are puzzling. Closer Kerry Wood could help a contender in a set-up role. The Indians should also consider the possibility of dealing All-Star right-hander Fausto Carmona as the time seems right to sell high on the sinkerballer, especially if they can get multiple prospects back in a trade.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

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

Related Content:  Contender

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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raybert

I find it hard to believe that Kyle Farnsworth could be considered an upgrade. "Upgrading" to Farnsworth is the same mindset as the Royals aspiring to get to .500.

Jul 15, 2010 06:50 AM
rating: 4
 
greensox

If the Royals have the best farm system in the game, why do they need more prospects?
No one in this division is built to win more than 90 games; I just don't get the continued backtracking of them and, even moreso the Indians (Royals really haven't backtracked much...they never had much).

Jul 15, 2010 07:39 AM
rating: 1
 
Nathan

I agree the Royals shouldn't make any plays for respectability this season, but I'm not convinced they should completely write off 2011. Farnsworth and Guillen (along with Scott Podsednik) should be trade bait for sure, and I can get behind exploring the market for Aviles, but trading DeJesus would be a clear white flag for next year. Not that I think they're going to be that great next year, but it does seem a little early to surrender.

Every team needs more talent--even the one with the best farm system--but trading the best position player on your team while he's still on a reasonable contract isn't a mandatory move.

Jul 15, 2010 08:21 AM
rating: 2
 
flyingdutchman

So the Tigers don't need a starter as bad as the White Sox need one? Have you seen what they're giving the ball to these days? They are relying on some combination of Galarraga, Bonderman, Porcello and Andy Oliver for three of their rotation spots. They absolutely cannot expect to win with these guys.

Jul 15, 2010 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
FLeghorn

This division seems like one that is going to be decided by moves made at the trading deadline. I still think the Twins are the best team, but could easily be talked out of it.

Jul 15, 2010 14:26 PM
rating: 0
 
ClubberLang

The Twins have the most ammo to make a deal and room for improvement in their rotation. If they can go out and get a real starter, I think they ought to win the division. A tad surprised how the Twins offense has underperformed -- some regression was inevitable from Mauer, and Cuddyer crashing back to earth is not surprising whatsoever, but some of the others have been a little disappointing.

The Sox offense has room for some improvement (Quentin finally has woken up, but Beckham and Pierzynski simply are not this bad) but a real lefty bat would help so they can stop pretending that Mark Kotsay is one. Pitching-wise, I think they're better off just going with what they have. Hudson isn't Peavy, but he's capable. They already have a dynamite lefty/righty set-up combo, and Jenks has looked better (I'd say rounded into form, but, well, fat jokes are a little old with him). The farm system is gutted enough, they don't have what it takes to get any pitcher who will make a real impact.

Jul 15, 2010 15:26 PM
rating: 0
 
flyingdutchman

Kenny Williams will almost certainly make a move for a starter or a DH (maybe Oswalt or Dunn, something like that), and that will be the end of it.

After they finish up with Minnesota, the Sox play 3 in Seattle and then 3 in Oakland before returning home to face Seattle 4 more times and Oakland 3 more times. Half of their August schedule is against the Orioles, Royals and Indians. The Tigers are basically a .500 team that's been helped out by a soft interleague schedule and some luck, and they're looking at a whole bunch of games against tough teams in the next month or so.

The Twins are a better team than the Tigers, of course. They could pull it together, but they're 4.5 back, and I don't see them making enough of a move to catch the Sox.

The PECOTA version of the Playoff Odds Report has the White Sox with a 59% chance of the playoffs, with the Tigers at 30% and the Twins at 12%. This doesn't take into account the move Kenny Williams is going to make and, honestly, I have to think their odds are already better than 59%.

I don't suppose Mr. Perotto could address my original point, by the way. Again, why is another starter a prescription for the Sox and not for the Tigers?

Jul 16, 2010 10:45 AM
rating: 0
 
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