Remember when the AL Central always had some combination of two awful teams, two mediocre teams, and one OK team? At the turn of the century you could build an 83 win ballclub -- against an unbalanced, sissified AL Central schedule mind you -- in this division and be in the pennant race until the last week of the season Where are the sunlit pastures of our youth? Where are the snows of yesteryear?
Lets leave the Tigers and Indians out of it for a moment, and reduce the division to a battle between the ChiSox-Royals-Twins. Could the Royals win that mini-division in 2008? Could they win it in 2009?
Its hard to say given the state of flux the Twins seem to be in and the perpetual state of bizarreness that the ChiSox are in. Know this however: the Twins are just as old-school savvy as the Royals dream of being, and will soon have a new stadium, and the White Sox are in a unique market position that will likely prevent them from truly bottoming out. They suffered a nightmare last season, and still won more games than the Royals.
And then there's the Rust Belters in Detroit and Cleveland. Its hard to imagine a scenario that produces the Royals surpassing both of them by 2009. Worse still, like the White Sox, the Tigers can and will spend money, and the Indians are one of the smartest teams in the game.
Unfairly, though of course this is not the right word, the Tigers and Indians both his rock bottom with only mediocre teams above them. The Royals do not have that luxury.
The Winter Meetings Day Three Open Thread will be up in the morning...