Offseason Progress Report: A Look Around the AL Central

Jed Jacobsohn

Grading the moves of the Twins and their AL Central Counterparts

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all TwinkieTown readers, as today we dive into how the offseason has played out to date, complete with analysis and letter grades. Feel free to submit your own grades and analysis in the comments section. (Player movement scaled in reverse chronological order in most cases!)

Cleveland Indians
2012: 68-94 (4th place)
Additions: Terry Francona (MGR), Nick Swisher, Scott Kazmir, Mark Reynolds, Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, Drew Stubbs, Trevor Bauer, Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles
Subtractions: Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald, Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez, Brent Lillibridge, Matt LaPorta, Kevin Slowey, Esmil Rogers
Analysis: The Indians will look drastically different next season, and it'll start at the top with Francona descending down from the broadcast booth to take over the Tribe. The Swisher move was a lot of money, but he'll more than adequately replace Choo, leaving the club with an outfield of Brantley-Stubbs-Swisher, which shouldn't be too bad. But the move that seals this as a very good offseason is the acquisition of Bauer, who's still one of the best young arms in the game in my view. He's been panned a bit more than one would like from a top prospect, but it was certainly worth giving up Choo for. Reynolds at first is a serious boom/bust proposition in more ways than one. In my view, the Tribe have improved significantly this offseason.
Grade: A-

Chicago White Sox
2012: 85-77 (2nd place)
Additions: Jeff Gray (!), Jeff Keppinger, David Purcey, Steven Tolleson, Blake Tekotte
Subtractions: A.J. Pierzynski, Jose Lopez, Francisco Liriano, Brett Myers, Dan Johnson
Analysis: The biggest moves the Pale Hose made were within, including extending Jake Peavy for two-years, $29 million and exercising Gavin Floyd's $9.5 million option for 2013. I also like the Keppinger deal, even if he only really mashes lefties. Beyond this, the White Sox have made strangely few moves, which makes one wonder if they're waiting out the market, or just content with how the roster looks. Getting back a healthy Jon Danks helps a lot, as this team was already in the race until the end of the season. It's hard to grade the Sox at this point, but since a grade must be given......
Grade: C+

Detroit Tigers
2012: 88-74 (1st place, lost WS)
Additions: Brayan Pena, Kyle Lobstein (Rule-5), Ramon Cabrera, Trevor Bell, Carlos Monasterios, Matt Tuiasosopo, Torii Hunter
Subtractions: Delmon Young, Adam Wilk, Andy Oliver, Ryan Raburn, Gerald Laird, Don Kelly
Analysis: One can't really put Anibal Sanchez into the additions column, but with the sense that he was saved from signing with the Cubs, you could be forgiven if you felt that way. It was a lot of money to give to a guy who is a No. 2 or 3 starter, but his best pitches are offspeed pitches so he won't have to rely on the heat to fan his usual 7.5-8.0 per nine. He should transition nicely to full-time AL work. Hunter is a good move as the shift to a corner has been good for his defense. Working with a team full of guys who put the ball in the air means that Hunter and Austin Jackson will have their work cut out for them. This team didn't need much, and got rid of Young. That's a pretty good offseason.
Grade: B+

Kansas City Royals
2012: 72-90 (3rd place)
Additions: Xavier Nady, Wade Davis, Dan Wheeler, George Sherrill, Willy Taveras, James Shields, Luis Santos, Luis Rico, Brian Sanches, Brandon Wood, Guillermo Moscoso
Subtractions: Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, Patrick Leonard, Chris Volstad, Clint Robinson, Vin Mazzaro
Analysis: Like the Tigers, the Royals can't consider Guthrie an addition, and quite frankly on that contract, I can't imagine they should anyway. The Santana move is downright frightening. It almost seems as though the Royals have figured that the farm has failed them so much the past few seasons -- and that's probably partly accurate -- that the club just ought to ship most of it out for proven veterans. Make no mistake, Shields should be a fine pitcher for the Royals. Davis could be pretty good as well. But the first three names you see on the subtractions list are among the best prospects the Royals have had the past five years. I struggle to say it's a calculated move, and it almost feels like an overreaction to the fact that the Royals were in third place. In the AL West, 72 wins would have been good for last place, and fourth place or worse in every other division. Will this make up the 14 game deficit on the Tigers -- of course assuming Detroit hasn't improved? I sort of doubt it. Sorry, Royals fans.
Grade: D

Minnesota Twins
2012: 66-96 (5th place)
Additions: Rich Harden, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia, Ray Olmedo, Brandon Boggs, Scott Elarton, Vance Worley, Trevor May, Jason Lane, Ryan Pressly (Rule-5), Alex Meyer, Jeff Clement, Tim Wood, Josh Roenicke
Subtractions: Ben Revere, Denard Span, Carl Pavano, Matt Capps, Alexi Casilla
Analysis: The Correia and Pelfrey signings are a bit of a disappointment, but that shouldn't muddle the long-term effects on what the Twins have accomplished this offseason. Gone are a pair of good but frankly replaceable outfielders, bringing back a pair of of high-ceiling arms and a solid mid-rotation candidate in Worley. I've long had a strong affinity for Harden as a ballplayer, so it'll be fun to see what, if anything, he has left to offer. The bullpen should be downright terrific this season, as the Twins have brought in some pretty good competition to a unit that was already pretty solid on the back end. The winner of the offseason has to be Darin Mastroianni, who finally gets to see if his success in about one-third of a season worth of plate appearances was anything sustainable. If not, the Twins have a good complement of minor league outfielders to supplement him with. Finally, the Twins took from an organizational strength and used it to supplement a weakness. All in all, a pretty good offseason.
Grade: B

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