Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
The Tigers certainly have a great team assembled, but they've already seen how quickly things can fall apart, with Kenny Rogers now sidelined for the next three months. The club has the pitching depth to adequately make up for the loss of Rogers, however, if the injury bug continues, which it certainly could given the history of the Tigers' stars, problems could arise. Ultimately, I see this team finishing 92-70, and falling just short of the playoffs. The loss of Rogers, the expected loss of a couple key members of the lineup at some point during the season, and an incredibly competitive division will leave the Tigers just shy of a return trip to the postseason.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
I think the injury to Rogers hurts this team in many ways -- possibly most notably in terms of that infamous veteran presence on the staff. He put this team on his back last fall and carried them to within a few games of the title. That leadership, and ability, are going to be missed. However, this is still a very good ball club, preparing to compete in an outstanding division. In the end, I think the Tigers end the season at somewhere around 95-67, sneaking into the playoffs amongst as many as four or five teams vying for one of the final slots.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I'll say they go 93-69 and win the division. Looking at the rest of the AL Central, the Twins have Johan Santana, and then a huge dropoff in the rotation. If the rest of those guys don't step up, a quality bullpen could get burned out early in the season. The Indians and White Sox will both score a lot of runs, especially at home, but both have pitching questions that need to be answered. With the Tribe, it's their bullpen. Can Joe Borowski put together another solid year, and can the relievers in front of him do the job? The rotation should be solid, and it will be better when Cliff Lee returns. With the White Sox, the rotation needs to be a lot better than they were last year. Jose Contreras was the lone starter with an ERA under 4.50 last year, and Gavin Floyd will be under pressure to fill Freddy Garcia's spot. The Tigers have been hit with a significant injury in Kenny Rogers, and this is a team with several players who have been susceptible to injuries, so health will be of paramount importance. There will also be questions surrounding Justin Verlander and how effective he'll be after his workload from last year. The Royals will be better with Alex Gordon and Ryan Shealy, and eventually Billy Butler, but their pitching will take a lot of lumps from the offenses in this division. The AL Central should be very competitive, and I think it's very possible that the team who winds up in fourth place finishes with a winning record.
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