It's hard to believe that the Tigers, a team that seems stacked every season, is working on a 31-year title drought. For as smart as team president Dave Dombrowski is -- and he's one of the best minds in the game -- the best-laid plans often go awry, which is why it now might make perfect sense to double-down on the Tigers.
The window is closing in Detroit. No doubt about that. The anchors of the roster -- Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera -- aren't getting any younger and David Price is headed into his walk year. The Tigers didn't blink in Scott Boras' high-stakes game of chicken and let Max Scherzer bolt to D.C. for $210 million. They also flipped a durable starter, Rick Porcello, to the Red Sox for another power bat in Yoenis Cespedes, a pending free agent without draft-pick compensation attached.
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Offense again won't be an issue, and a Price-Verlander-Anibal Sanchez trio is a solid front to the rotation. Joe Nathan, 40, is a calculated risk as closer, so the Tigers will have to pound opponents into submission. They're still equipped to play that way.
2. WHITE SOX
Big doings on the South Side during the offseason with the stunning trade for Jeff Samardzija as well as swiping former Yankees closer David Robertson with a four-year, $46-million deal. Those are huge upgrades, but the Sox also need Chris Sale to stay healthy and slugger Jose Abreu to avoid a sophomore slump. Should be poised to challenge the Tigers.
Corey Kluber's breakthrough 2014 season resulted in the Cy Young Award, and at age 28, he should be hitting his stride. Carlos Carrasco is a solid No. 2, but after that is where the Indians have trouble going toe-to-toe with the top guns in the division. Getting Brandon Moss adds some needed pop to go with Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana.
Could it be one-and-done for the AL champs? Unfortunately for the Royals, James Shields turned out to be an October punch line, but that's 34 starts and 227 innings -- with a 3.21 ERA -- to replace after he signed with the Padres in the offseason. Yordano Ventura is next up as the No. 1, but the rest of the rotation is so-so. Let's see if they can run their way to the playoffs again.
Bringing back Torii Hunter makes for a nice homecoming and maybe will sell a few tickets. Paul Molitor takes over for Ron Gardenhire, but he'll have the same problems his predecessor did -- a lack of talent.
Best of the AL Central
EVERYDAY PLAYER: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
OVERALL HITTER: Victor Martinez, Tigers
POWER HITTER: Jose Abreu, White Sox
IN THE CLUTCH: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
INFIELD ARM: Alcides Escobar, Royals
OUTFIELD ARM: Yoenis Cespedes, Tigers
CATCHER: Yan Gomes, Indians
STARTER: Chris Sale, White Sox
RELIEVER: Wade Davis, Royals
CLOSER: David Robertson, White Sox
DEPTH: White Sox
GM: Dave Dombrowski, Tigers
MANAGER: Terry Francona, Indians
STADIUM: Target Field
UNIFORMS: Tigers (home)