Previously in the Recap series, I discussed some of the trades that occurred in early-mid July. As the trade deadline loomed on the horizon, GMs became more aggressive and went after the more coveted players that were being shopped on the block.
07/23/12: (NYY-SEA) Yankees get I. Suzuki (OF), Mariners get D.J. Mitchell (SP), and Danny Farquhar (RP)
Another superstar has entered the fold in New York. Ichiro (38) will merely serve as another insurance OF for the Yankees. Yes, he had 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons. Yes, he batted above .300 for 9 of them. However he is on the decline. In 2011, he had career lows in hits (184), BA (.272), and OBP (.310). While he is still racking the SB count (and those will go down soon as well), he cannot beat out the infield single as easily as he used to. His biggest asset was his quickness, but his second was his gold glove. He still is a premier defender and will provide a nice defensive substitute down the stretch. Until Gardner returns, Ichiro will most likely get the nod. If he does well, Manager Joe Girardi will stick him somewhere else (depending on the FA this offseason). On the other side of the trade, Seattle is clearly making a break from the Suzuki-era; they are trying to rebuild and create a new face to the franchise. These two 2008 draftees will help out one way or another. Of the two, Mitchell has greater potential but Farquhar will make the quicker impact at the major league level.
Conclusion – This was more or less a dump by Seattle in order to transition to an Ichiro-less future.
Previously in the Predictions series, we covered the National League (as a whole), American League East, and American League West post-All-Star break predictions. Now we move onto the final division: the American League Central.
Just to clarify, the Predictions series was written during the All-Star Break. All information thereafter has not been taken into account.
American League Central
Overview: The three contending teams in the 2012 season are Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland. Kansas City and Minnesota will continue to build and make a strong presence in the years to come.
Currently leading the pack are the Chicago White Sox, with a record of 47-38. Chicago has been playing well enough to keep themselves as contenders in this division. They are getting solid production from their DH, C, 1B, and OF. De Aza, Viciedo, and Rios are a playoff contending outfield. Adam Dunn is doing what he does best, and that is hitting longballs. His 28 HR and 75 BB make up for his usually poor BA of .204. The veterans Pierzynski (.286 and 16) and Konerko (.323 and 14) are putting up premier numbers. The rotation has its ups and downs, but its been able to stay in there. With anchors Chris Sale and Jake Peavy, fans can be assured of quality starts from their top two. Jose Quintana has been a pleasant surprise this year, boasting a 4-1 record and a .231 BAA. However much is needed when it comes to sealing the division. The reality is that the Wild Card spots will come from either the West or the East, so if the Sox want to make the playoffs they must push hard and fend off Detroit and Cleveland. In order for this to happen, Chicago has to bring veterans to the bullpen (Addison Reed, their 23 year-old closer, has been struggling; the rest of the pen has been as well). The pitching staff is finally getting healthy, and I foresee that a strong second half is in order. Back of the rotation starter Philip Humber has been injured but should be back soon and lower his 6.35 ERA back to Earth in the 2nd half. SP John Danks should return late August and help them make a late surge for the division crown. The IF bats have been the missing puzzle piece in terms of offense. Alexei Ramirez has been a huge disappointment this season and needs to heat up soon. Gordon Beckham’s defense is stellar, but his bat needs to improve if he wants to live up to his high draft pick and prospect rank. Recently acquired 3B Kevin Youkilis has been hitting .279 with 5 HR and appears very comfortable in Chicago. Their Keys to Victory are better IF production, a veteran presence in the pen, and a healthy rotation.