Sizing up the AL Central after the trade deadline

Sizing up the AL Central after the trade deadline
Weird. // Jesse Johnson, U.S, presswire photo

The last day before the non-waiver trade deadline came and went without any significant additions to the AL Central powers, despite “interesting discussions” all around.  It was a bit of a surprise since the Sox had the rather reasonable options of improving the bullpen or overcorrect their bench, and an even bigger surprise that the Tigers didn’t just keep their foot on the gas as a matter of principle.

The Cleveland Indians, caught in a freefall and unable to acquire Matt Kemp by osmosis at any point, seemed to have sealed their descent with their inaction at the deadline.

But there was a notable divisional move., and it wasn’t just Jonathan Broxton leavng.

The White Sox officially lost John Danks for the season, as he plans to address his not-recovering shoulder with exploratory surgery.  It’s not as if Danks’ 2012 season could have been saved by rushing him under the knife in May, but it’s another mark on a humbling year for the revered White Sox training staff.  Now they’re left to pick out five starters from the crop of Jake Peavy, fatigued Chris Sale, mercurial Francisco Liriano and Gavin Floyd, pitching-above-his-head Jose Quintana, and Philip Humber, who might have gotten the boot from a healthier rotation.  That group looked a lot more stable when there was a potential to kick out any strugglers with a healthy John Danks.

As of now, the Sox could wind up  six above-average starters, or they could just have Jake Peavy to rely on.  It places a great onus on Francisco Liriano settling down as a dependable #3 starter, which his initial audition in Minnesota suggested…is possible.  He flashed incredible velocity and stuff, averaging 94 mph and inducing and incredible 17 swings-and-misses.  He also was wracked with control issues and pitched himself out of the game and a winning decision after six innings.  Hopefully this is not one of those cases where Cooper’s work is done after one side session.

Detroit’s sterling upgrades to their rotation in middle infield both flopped in their first week, facilitating the scenario where they’ve yielded four games to the Sox in the standings since sweeping them the weekend before last.

Anibal Sanchez was bombed for three home runs in his only Detroit start, and Omar Infante is 5 for 26 with a triple and a walk since coming on.  Those are puny samples, but also represent about 1/10th of the time each player will be a Tiger this season.  We’re arriving at a point where waiting on the true performance talent of a team to shine through is a dicey proposition, and the fact that the Tigers have dropped their Baseball Prospectus’ odds of winning the AL Central to under 30% is just as important as the league-wide perception that they’re the better team.

With Victor Martinez’s season-ending ACL injury looking to be season-ending after all, and ill-advised call-ups of 20 year-olds who just made AA being the only in-house options, it’s prudent to be suspicious of the Tigers working the waiver wires.  Rumors of Detroit working on a deal for Alfonso Soriano were denied by their GM, but fit their approach toward this season of waving off long-term financial concerns in order to win bids for top talent.  They have spent a lot of money to attack their present competitive window, and aren’t about to take having their dreams deferred by an extraordinarily fortunate year for the White Sox lying down.


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