Kansas City Royals
Strengths: Having an all-star closer like Joakim Soria is a great luxury, but getting the ball to him with a lead will be tough for the Royals. OF Jeff Francoeur is a nice addition in the outfield, and 2B Mike Aviles is a solid all-around player.
Weaknesses: The loss of SP Zack Greinke just adds to the woes of a very depleted pitching staff, and the outfield lacks a slugger after losing Jose Guillen last season. Pick a position, and the Royals have many questions to answer about it.
Analysis: It’s been 26 years since the Royals have made the postseason, and 2011 does not look to be the year that the streak ends. Second-year manager Ned Yost is going to have his hands full with this bunch.
Prediction: 5th in AL Central
Strengths: OF Shin-Soo Choo showed that he can put together back-to-back successful seasons and lead the team far and away in all-around offense with 22 HR, 90 RBIs, and 22 SB. Closer Chris Perez returns after posting a sub 2.00 ERA and 23 saves in 2010.
Weaknesses: OF Grady Sizemore needs to stay healthy if the Tribe wants to have any chance of contending in the AL Central. The pitching staff, which wasn’t very good in 2010, returns many familiar faces, but they have another year of experience. They aren’t going to look much better in 2011 unless the young guys in the field like 1B Matt LaPorta can hit better than the .221 AVG he put up last season.
Analysis: The Indians are in a rebuilding phase and will need to add some veterans. They did not do much in the off-season, so the pickings could be slim when they realize what they have isn’t worth very much.
Prediction: 4th in AL Central