2014 AL Central Preview And Predictions

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Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) reacts after he stuck out during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers: 92-70

1- Why will this team exceed expectations?

Matt Pelc from Motor City Bengals: I am not sure that the Detroit Tigers could exceed expectations, they are already sky-high. The team seems to be dialing back payroll, and as Spring Training goes further on it seems less likely that Max Scherzer will sign an extension, which will probably signal his exit from Detroit after 2014.

That means this year is all-in. The Tigers have gone to the ALCS three straight years and have failed to win the ultimate prize. For a long-time fan like myself, this success has been terrific, but the fan base feels that to have a successful season, a World Series victory has to happen.

2- Why will this team fall short of expectations?

The Tigers don’t have much depth. Injuries in Spring Training have shown that. Andy Dirks is out until almost June, and while he was going to platoon with Rajai Davis in leftfield, now the Tigers will scramble for internal candidates that are either not ready for the majors, like Daniel Fields, or a guy that is just a so-so, fringe, non-starter guy like Don Kelly.

Jose Iglesias is also missing time with recurring ankle issues, which is a major cause of concern for the team. While the starting pitching is likely the best in the American League, if not all of baseball, middle relief is still shaky at best.

3- Look for the team to make (this trade)

I’m not sure we’ll see the Tigers make any trades because they seem to be trying to restock their farm system, which ranks near the bottom in the majors. They could use added depth in the bullpen, left field, and catching, but I can’t think of anyone that would be available out there that would be an upgrade to the backups they currently have.

4- Watch out for the emergence of (prospect)

Nick Castellanos has been the top prospect in the Tigers organization for some time and he’ll finally get his shot at the majors at third base. As for who to watch in the minors, watch the trio of Daniel Fields, Steven Moya, and Devon Travis—who will all probably spend time in AA and AAA this season.