Chicago White Sox
The Mighty Whities signed Ben Broussard this week to a minor league contract. Broussard, a darling of platoon fanatics, hit .186 with the Rangers in 2008 in just 82 at-bats and spent most of last year in the minors with the Cubs and Yankees. The 32-year-old left-handed first baseman is a career .270/.331/.462 batter against right-handed pitching but has been stymied by the left-handed variety, hitting just .225/.288/.393 off of them. By all accounts, Broussard will spend the 2009 in AAA Charlotte as roster filler.
- Though possibly the most active team out of all the AL Central teams -- adding closer Kerry Wood, set-up man Joe Smith and third baseman Mark DeRosa this offseason -- Cleveland's local media still believes the division goes through Minnesota and Chicago, once again. Long-time Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Paul Hoynes, that of the famed 'Hey, Hoynsie' question-and-answer columns, writes that he anticipates the Twins to win the Central followed by the Sox, Indians, Tigers and Royals.
- The Tribe have enlisted the help of former Twins great Frank Viola as a spring training instructor. Sweet Music was a teammate of current Indians manager, Eric Wedge, while in Boston in 1992. Though on the same team, Viola never threw to Wedge in a game. Nevertheless, Wedge was encouraged to have Viola on board to work with some of the many left-handed pitchers the Indians will feature in camp this spring. "I heard he wanted to get back into the game so I talked to him over the winter," said Wedge. "With all our left-handed pitchers, we felt he could help us." Former Twin and current Indian pitching coach, Carl Willis, raved about Viola's presence in camp. "Viola didn't just have great stuff," said Willis, "he had a great move to first base and he had a great change-up. We're pushing that with some of our lefties."
- Former Indian, Roberto Alomar, decided to take some, albeit small, media attention away from Alex Rodriguez by participating in a good, old-fashioned lawsuit with ex-girlfriend, Ilya Dall. Dall's suit claims that Alomar, who maybe the first Gold Glover with full-blown AIDS, repeatedly insisted on having unprotected sex despite having "obvious signs of HIV". The Village Voice, via Deadspin, reports that Dall is a former "arm wrestler" in her home state of New York.
The following the offseason this year must be a major disappointment for fans that were geared up on the acquisition of Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis (no relation to Carl), Edgar Renteria and Gary Sheffield in the previous two offseasons. Instead, Motown gets a dose of cross-your-fingers acquistions in shortstop Adam Everett, catcher Gerald Laird and relievers Juan Rincon, Brandon Lyon and Scott Williamson. Naturally, the core of the Tigers lineup still has plenty of bite, yet it is aging rapidly. At 30.4 and 29.9, respectively, the Tigers had the 4th oldest lineup and the 2nd oldest pitching staff in the American League. All for the low, low sum of $137.5 million.
With starters Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander returning along with Willis's potential contributions in the rotation, it is not hard to think that Detroit could remain competitive in the Central. The bullpen, however, with Lyon returning to the closer role, is still a mystery. Joel Zumaya, who spent a good deal of the 2008 season on the DL, is gunning for the role that was assumed to be Lyon's. "I've got two guys that I'm going to be fighting for the role," Zumaya said. "They're going to be friends. We're going to be part of the team. But when we're out there, it's going to be competitive." Former Twins minor league pitching coordinator, Rick Knapp, was brought in to be the Tigers pitching coach on his ability to refine relievers.
Kansas City Royals
Kansas City's 2009 payroll is expected to exceed $70 million. Though a small number in comparison to the aforementioned $137 million of the Tigers, the $70 million figure represents a 20% increase from 2008. Yet, the Royals still might not be finished working the free agent market, reportedly looking at Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson and (more plausably) Ray Durham.
The Royals have toyed with moving outfielder Mark Teahen to second base in 2009. This is yet another bizarre move for the Royals. After spending his first four seasons as a third baseman then a fairly decent right fielder in 2007 but a poorer one last season, Teahen is expected to compete for a position that is much more highly skilled than that of a corner outfielder. The Defensive Spectrum, as I brought up a week ago in reference to Michael Cuddyer, shows that it is much more difficult to slide to the right of the spectrum (DS: 1B -- LF -- RF -- 3B -- CF -- 2b -- SS), if anything, Teahen is primed to become a first baseman -- even if his offense closely resembles that of a second baseman. Unfortunately, the Royals have two players at first (Mike Jacobs and Billy Butler) and have the need for speedier outfielders to cover more real estate in Kauffman.