With Spring training starting earlier this year thanks to the WBC, it won't be long before the Tigers kick off the spring schedule when they face the Atlanta Braves on February 22nd in Lake Buena Vista, Fl.

Now that the Winter Meetings have come and gone and most of the off season moves have been made, it appears that the Tigers are well positioned to win their third straight division crown.  

Perhaps the biggest makeover was turned in by the Minnesota Twins who traded both Ben Revere and Denard span in an effort to bolster a barren pitching rotation.

The Twins have revamped with the additions of Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey to the starting five, while also adding a pair of top prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May.

In dealing away Revere and Span, the Twins will entrust two of their outfield positions to Darin Mastroianni and Chris Parmelee.  Minnesota felt it had to restock its system with pitching and its two biggest chips not named Mauer and Morneau were the two speedy outfielders.  While the additions to the rotation add some veteran presence, it will take a while for the Twins to get back to the teams that were division favorites every year.

The Royals also added some splash to their rotation by adding James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis, while trading away top prospects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery.  Kansas City had find an ace and they did.  A new-look pitching staff which also includes Jeremy Guthrie acquired last season, will give the Royals a legitimate shot in the Central.

Much will depend on the continued development of youngsters Mike Moustakas, Salvy Perez, Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar, but the Royals should be more optimistic heading into spring camp than they have been in a while.

The White Sox remain mostly the same team that finished three games behind the Tigers in 2012.  The addition of infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Rays is one of the few changes, but A.J. Pierzynski's departure to Texas leaves the offense minus the 27 homers the catcher contributed.

Still, any team that features a top three of Chris Sale, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd in the rotation remains dangerous.

Cleveland fired manager Manny Acta after finishing 20 games behind the Tigers in 2012.  Terry Francona takes over a club that has several good young players, but not many proven, productive veterans.

GM Chris Antonetti dealt away one of his shiniest pieces, Shin Soo Choo, and in return received outfielder Drew Stubbs and enigmatic pitching prospect Trevor Bauer.  Hard to tell when Bauer will be ready to contribute in the big leagues.

The Tribe also took a flyer on RHP Scott Kazmir (yikes) and is heavily pursuing free agent outfielder Nick Swisher.  Mark Reynolds brings a power bat with him from Baltimore, but a ton of strikeouts as well.

Still, the most meaningful change may be the addition of Francona.  "Tito" won two World Series with the Red Sox and averaged 93 wins a seasons.  The Tribe appears to be several years away from contending. 

The Tigers will undoubtedly be favored to win the Central Division.  The starting rotation coupled with one of the best lineups in the game should have the rest of the division looking up at the Tigers all season. 


05/31/2013 03:47

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09/08/2013 22:54

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