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The Chicago White Sox Will Win The AL Central

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In a division full of cheap and shitty owners, I have the Chicago White Sox winning the AL Central in spite of theirs. This truly is a division for the taking. If any team in the AL Central had the ownership support like you see with the Mets, Padres or Dodgers, that team have an annual pass to the playoffs. Instead, you have the rich pretending to be poor and doing the competitive bare minimum by signing one decent free agent each off-season. 

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There are only three teams that even have a shot at making the playoffs. The Royals are still firmly in their rebuild. Bobby Witt Jr. and Brady Singer are nice players and Zack Greinke will be fun to root for but the only question for the Royals is if they will lose 100 games. At least the Royals are the one team in this awful division to win a World Series since 2006.

The Tigers are a dumpster fire. They lost 96 games last year and Keith Law had their farm system ranked dead last in baseball. They do have a new GM but it will take years before they can build up the minor leagues to start really helping the major league club. They've also done nothing to improve the major league club from last year. Even if they get career years out of last year's abysmal newcomers like Javier Baez, Austin Meadows and Eduardo Rodriguez, they would still have a tough time getting to .500. This is Miguel Cabrera's final season so that's at least a reason to see them this year but it's going to be a shitty year for Tiger fans. Sorry Castellani.

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That leaves us with the White Sox, Guardians and Twins. If any one of these teams won the division, it wouldn't be a shock. The Twins big issue last year was starting pitching. So they traded the best contact hitter in baseball in Luis Arraez to the Marlins for a good starting pitcher in Pablo Lopez. So they pitching is better but now the offense took a hit.

Meanwhile, look at what the Rangers did in just this offseason. They added free agents Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney and re-signed Martin Perez. Instead, the Twins just shuffle guys around and will once again be in the .500 ballpark again. I know Twins ownership think they expect kudos for re-signing the man with one ankle Carlos Correa but they won't get any here.

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The Guardians are a team that does almost everything right. They have the best manager in baseball, a top notch farm system and even won the division by 11 games last year. But if you look a little deeper, I see some potential cracks. They were remarkably healthy last year. Shane Beiber, Tristan McKenzie and Cal Quantrill combined to make 93 regular season starts last year. The Guardians were 61-32 in those games last year. They were 31-38 when those guys didn't start a game. I'd be shocked if they can get that same health from that trio again.

It's not just the pitching. They also got remarkable health from their key offensive performers as well. Andres Gimenez became a player who was struggling to hit major league pitching into finishing 6th in AL MVP voting. A lot of things went right for the Guardians last year and I'm not so sure they will all go right again. If they don't go to plan, we do know those cheap fucks Larry and Paul Dolan won't help. 

This is a team that has the foundation of what could be an actual dynasty. They have a payroll of under $100 million. They could have signed Justin Verlander, Aaron Judge and Brandon Nimmo and not touched $200 million. Instead, they sign Josh Bell who is a fine hitter but give me a break. The Dolans are literally the worst.

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So why do I think the White Sox can win? They had the opposite season of the Guardians last year. Instead of a genius in the dugout, they had a nearly 80 year old Tony LaRussa. He had no business being in that dugout last year. Based on his history, he shouldn't be allowed to drive either. Let's just all agree that LaRussa should just stay home. It's kind of pains me to write that. He really was a great manager once. Go read George Will's Men At Work. It can be a dry read at times but it does give a great snapshot at some of the greatest figures in baseball in the late 1980's. But in 2023, not having Tony LaRussa in uniform is addition by subtraction.

The White Sox also had horrific luck last year. Here's a list of games played by key players:

Tim Anderson: 79 games

Eloy Jimenez: 84 games

Luis Robert: 98 games

Yoan Moncada: 104 games

All of these players are in spring training and will be ready to start the season. This is the biggest reason why they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2019. Like every other team in this division, they have a cheap owner who signed one major free agent all off-season. The White Sox went out and got Andrew Benintendi. He's not great and they wildly overpaid for him but I think he could really help this team. He's only 28 and this was a team that was 9th in the AL in runs last year. If you can get more games played out of the four players I mentioned earlier along with Benintendi contributing, this suddenly becomes a top 5 AL offense.

Yeah, I don't care about that. Spring Training stats are stupid. Guys are trying new pitches and now with the pitch clock and pickoff rules, there is a lot of new stuff to get used to. Dylan Cease is a legitimate ace. I'd fully expect him to be a Top 5 AL Cy Young candidate again this year. The White Sox also signed Mike Clevinger to replace Johnny Cueto but that feels like a push to me. 

One thing that is a step back for the ChiSox is Liam Hendriks being out for an undetermined amount of time as he battles lymphoma.  He's been an elite relief pitcher for the past four seasons and will be seriously missed in that bullpen. You'd think any ownership group would increase the payroll so that the baseball operations team could search for alternatives at closer but Jerry Reinsdorf sucks.

I don't know if any team in this division will win 90 games. The new schedule where you play your own division much less will hurt the teams in the AL Central. Feasting on the Royals and Tigers have made the Twins, White Sox and Guardians maybe look a little better than they actually are. If you are asking me who will win the most divisions championships over the next five years, I'd say the Guardians but for 2023 alone, I like the White Sox. They have a deeper lineup than most and I'm very high on Cease.

Imagine if one of these teams actually spent real money?