If you are not aware: The Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder a nine year, $214 Million contract this past week. Adding Fielder not only makes the Detroit Tigers the undisputed favorite to win the AL Central. It makes the divide between where the Kansas City Royals are, and where they need to be, to win the AL Central much greater than before.
The Tigers are just one of the Royals’ four divisional opponents. With the unbalanced schedule they will play each opponent 18 or 19 times. The divisional opponent I despise the most is dependant upon who is having the most success. In 2003 that team was the Twins. The Indians and White Sox have at one time been my most despised divisional opponent. Right now, I really don’t like the Tigers. Who ever the Tigers are playing 2012, I’ll root for them.
This is a new realization for me. Even last year when the Tigers won the division by 15 games I did not despise them as much as I despise them now. Maybe it was the horrendous 2003 season. Maybe it’s that the Tigers seem to draft a lot of players from Wichita State. Maybe, deep down I like the demeanor of their chain smoking manager Jim Leyland. I’m not sure why I had a soft spot for the Tigers until now. In fact the Royals Franchise should have a soft spot for the Tigers. After all, that 119 loss 2003 team is the only thing separating the Royals from being the WORST TEAM IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL this century! In the end the joke was on the Royals. The Tigers won the American League Pennant three seasons later. Meanwhile the Royals lost another 100 games, fired their general manager a week before the draft, and had a pitching staff so terrible an over the hill Scott Elarton was the Opening Day starter.
Because of Detroit’s separation from the rest of the AL Central I no longer have a soft spot for them. The White Sox and Twins have entered rebuilding mode. If the Royals are an improved team they should beat these two teams like a rented mule. I’m not sure I can feel sorry for them. Even there are repeated trips behind the woodshed. The Cleveland Indians are in the same place developmentally as the Royals. They might be ahead. They have already pulled the trigger for an ace pitcher to supplement their farm system. Something the Royals seem reluctant to do. If the Royals are ever going to make the playoffs they have to get through the Indians to do it. No love for the Indians, here.
This is how see the AL Central shaping up for the 2012 Season. The Tigers are miles head of the rest of the division. The Royals and Indians will fight for second and third. That is a fight the Royals need to win if they are going to seriously contend in 2013. The Twins and White Sox will be scrumming in the basement. I guess you could call it progress that the Royals are not being picked to finish last. Progress is good, but there is a great divide between the Royals and the Tigers. Dayton Moore and the Glass Family need to find a way to build a bridge.