As we continue through the AL Central...
Last week, nearly two-thirds of you claimed that, yes, the Royals are better than the Tigers. To me, the interesting thing about the 63%-36% victory for "yes" last weekend was how stable it was: from a very early stage of the voting yes had a 60-70% number, and it stayed near that figure right through to the current total of exactly 400 votes (cool). Personally, I voted no, but I'll take such a large consensus as a sign that I may be wrong.
Now, let us turn to the Indians, a team that, unlike Detroit, finished ahead of the Royals in 2008.
|'07 Pythag||'08 Pythag|
Players Lost: Jeff Stevens, Franklin Gutierrez, Scott Elarton, Non-Insane Career Year Cliff Lee
Players Added: Carl Pavano, Kerry Wood, Luis Valbuena, Mark DeRosa, Joe Smith
To the players lost field you can probably add Andy Marte and probably Brendan Donnelly, and, more broadly, a host of guys shipped out during the '08 season: C.C. Sabathia, Casey Blake, Paul Byrd and Joe Borowski. (As always, let me know if I've left anyone out.)
Since 2005, the Indians have been all over the place, in part because, for whatever reason, they've had an on again off again relationship with Pythagoras. (Err... I mean, with a hot female version of Pythagoras, an eternally youthful hot female version as well, not a 2600 year old who liked weird music and math. Must maintain mandatory compulsory hetero & borderline inappropriate dynamic on sports blogosphere at all times.) So anyway, with the Indians and this sexy Greek chick, sometimes she's like all cool and all and down with anything and other times she makes them watch a boring movie on USA that takes four hours with commercials and then she falls asleep just after telling Eric Wedge he looks fifteen years older than he actually is.
For whatever reason -- quibble with Pythag as a tool, lack of clutchness or chemistry, bad/good bullpens -- the Indians have had two fairly bizarre seasons where things just didn't work. Still, over the last four years the Tribe have average 87 real wins and 90 expected wins a year, putting them right on the cusp of contention, and theoretically in the sweet spot where select free agent moves and trades should be especially beneficial.
So, as we did with the Tigers, what does your gut tell you: are the Royals, going into 2009, now better than the Indians? No qualifications, no probability clouds, just yes or no.