The Motor City Bengals staff gathers to discuss some questions surrounding (1) the Detroit Tigers’ offseason and (2) the upcoming 2014 season. If you have mailbag questions for future editions of the MCB Roundtable, feel free to tweet them @MCB_Tigers.
Last year the Indians finished only a game behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Who poses the biggest threat to Detroit’s division crown at the moment?
Michael Emmerich: I suppose KC. The Indians outperformed their third-order wins by 6 games. They haven’t done enough this offseason to fend off the expected regression in 2014, although the rotation could develop into a real force. The White Sox seem finally committed to a full-throated rebuilding effort. The Twins added some intriguing arms to their strike-out averse rotation but they still don’t scare. That leaves the Royals, who have more promising young players entering their prime than anyone else in the division. The bullpen will probably regress but should still be strong. But the rotation, behind Shields, is an issue, especially if Santana signs elsewhere. No matter who is in the rotation they will be helped by one of the best defenses in baseball. If the Moutaskas hits all season like he did in the first half and Homer and Pérez continue their ascent towards stardom and a few other things fall into place the Royals could win close to 90 games, enough to make the Tigers sweat–a little.
Tom Zahari: The Cleveland Indians are still the biggest threat to the Tigers. Even though they overachieved in 2013, the Indians qualified for the American League Wild Card where they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays and they have a solid core built around Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley. If the Indians can put together some solid pitching, they could be a serious threat.
The Kansas City Royals have the best bullpen in the division, but their starting pitching and lineup are too inconsistent to be the biggest threat. Every year we hear how this is the year of the Royals, but it never is. I am in a place of believing it when I see it with Kansas City.
Matt Pelc: The last two years, I’ve been convinced that the Kansas City Royals would step up and challenge the Tigers’ supremacy in the AL Central. I was way off in 2012, but in 2013, KC showed signs of the solid team they’ve been building and rebuilding for years. Cleveland will take a small step back, which will open the door for the Royals.
Matt Snyder: I really like what the Royals have done this offseason with their offense. They signed Omar Infante to a reasonable deal and made a heckuva trade for underrated outfielder Norichika Aoki. They still have starting pitching concerns (especially without 2013 Ervin Santana), but they may be better positioned to compete with the Tigers than the Indians (who have their own pitching issues without Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir).
Grant Stoye: I am, once again, petrified of Kansas City. Getting Infante really sealed the deal for me, and if Moustakas can get his act together they have a stacked lineup, a hearty bench, a ridiculous bullpen, and they’re one starter away from a good rotation.