The Commish Online                                                                                
March 26, 2003

The Central is a two team race but the choice is not a tough one.  Minnesota's experience gives them the edge, though, as Chicago fights to close the gap by adding Bartolo Colon.  The Twins haven't had any major losses and finished 2002 strong by knocking off the A's in the playoffs, so the White Sox will need to do more than just add a pitcher if they want to make up the 13 1/2 games they finished behind the Twins last year.  There are few holes in the Twins lineup (need for more power?) and they play outstanding defense while the White Sox are inexperienced at 2B and 3B and are less than stellar defensively.  Luckily for the Pale Hose, 3 of the worst teams in baseball play in the A.L. Central, so if they focus on beating up on the downtrodden, they can worry about handling the Twins in the playoffs as they sneak in as a wildcard.

In Cleveland, there's a lot of excitement over the young talent.  The only problem?  There's nothing else.  Thome's gone, and Jason Bere (1-10 with the Cubs last year) is the number 2 starter.  Yikes.  It should be a season of streaks as the Indians learn on the job, occasionally putting together flashes of the future.  Detroit may have less talent than Kansas City, but the organization seems a little more stable, which should translate in the standings.  The Tigers have good options at the closer position and the rotation is filled with some potential arms while Steve Sparks, a knuckleballer, figures to eat up innings either as the fifth starter or in a middle relief role.  Having a guy in the bullpen that you know can't get overworked could be a nice security blanket for first year manager Alan Trammell.  Detroit's lineup lacks just about everything, and bringing the fences in this year can only hurt their chances.

Kansas City has a couple All-Star caliber players in their lineup, but the chances of them finishing the season with the Royals is slim to none.  Their closer (MacDougal) hasn't saved a major league game, half of the rotation should still be learning in the minor leagues, and they lost 100 games last year.  Don't look for this team to improve on that record, especially with the White Sox improved from last year.

AL Central
1. Minnesota
know how to win and have an unspectacular but deep rotation
2. Chicago
close, but the good hitting won't always make up for the poor defense
3. Cleveland
the best of this sorry group of 3 bottom dwellers thanks to some impressive prospects
4. Detroit
somebody has to come in fourth
5. Kansas City
not one recognizable pitcher on the team

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