Join me for a quick trip around the American League's Central Division, where the Tigers seem to have finally opened an insurmountable lead over the pesky Indians.
- With the Tigers visiting Fenway for the first time since acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, GM Dave Dombrowski left no doubt that the club views the 23-year-old Cuban as its shortstop of the future, reports Jerry Spar of WEEI.com. “He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop," said Dombrowski. "He really changes the middle of the diamond. We have a lot of good pitchers, and some of them live with the ground ball, and so his range helps us appreciably — so quick out there." While defense was never the question with Iglesias, Dombrowski says that he does enough well in the rest of the game to stick as a starter. “He’s also hit well enough. … He does a lot of little things for us as far as bunting, he can move the ball around, he can steal a base. … He’s going to be our shortstop for years to come.”
- Of course, as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently explained, the fate of suspended Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta is tied inextricably to that of Iglesias, who was acquired to replace him. Dombrowski's comments certainly seem to indicate that he views Iglesias as a better fit for the short and long term, leaving no apparent role for the free agent-to-be Peralta.
- White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers will undergo exploratory shoulder surgery and be out of commission for about three to six months, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter). The South Siders' catching situation will be interesting to watch over the off-season. Flowers struggled this year with persistent shoulder issues, and 25-year-old Josh Phegley has failed to impress in his first big league showcase (.211/.221/.331 in 147 plate appearances). The club did just call up 22-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, a defense-first backstop who .254/.326/.349 in 190 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this year. Once a top-10 prospect, Gonzalez's star has faded with his bat over the last several seasons. Fortunately for Chicago, all of these players will be making league mnimum next year.
- The Indians will soon face a decision on Ubaldo Jimenez's $8MM mutual 2014 option, notes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jimenez entered the season with a 5.32 ERA for the Indians since being acquired from the Rockies at the 2011 trade deadline, but appears to have righted the ship somewhat in 2013, posting a 3.95 ERA and career-best 9.1 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings. Pluto speculates that the Indians will pick up their end of the option, but that Jimenez will decline and become a free agent. Back in March, MLBTR's Steve Adams took a look back at the deal that brought Jimenez to Cleveland, when it seemed the 2014 option would be a complete no-brainer for the Indians to exercise.
- The Royals, too, are looking ahead at starting pitching questions over the coming off-season. As Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, the club figures to stay the course with its young field position players, with GM Dayton Moore explaining that the team's core of "talented young players on the field" place the club "in the beginning stages of a window where this team can win consistently for a period of time." The rotation, on the other hand, will see the surprisingly excellent Ervin Santana and veteran Bruce Chen enter free agency. Dutton says that the club's decisionmaking process on those two starting slots will depend on a variety of factors, such as the organization's view of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis and the timetable for top prospects Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer. It is unlikely, according to Dutton, that the team will outbid the market on Santana. "We want him here, but it’s difficult to predict," said Moore.