Let’s take a look in at the AL Central, which is currently fronted by a surprising Twins club — though not due to the poor performance of the rest of the division. With the Indians streaking and the Royals and Tigers still looking like threats, to say nothing of a White Sox team that is still in the picture as well, it’s probably not too soon to call this the most competitive division in baseball.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn says that he still expects several players to improve their play back toward their career norms, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. While Hahn rightly notes that there’s still plenty of time, of course, the AL Central does not look like the easiest division to make a run at from behind. That means that Chicago will increasingly need to consider “contingency plans,” as Merkin puts it, if buying at the deadline does not make sense. “Marching orders for our scouts heading out of Spring Training were looking at our positions of need at the big league level and targeting guys to help shore those up for a stretch run,” explains Hahn. “At the same time, we have our pro scouts out at the Minor League level preparing for, should we need to go the other way, and look at more prospect-focused deals. At this point, our intent is to look to add at the Deadline and put ourselves in a better position to win.”
- Young Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos has always seemed primed to hit in the big leagues, though that remains a work in progress. While he has yet to turn things on at the dish, however, he has made a significant improvement in his glovework, as Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh examines. Castellanos acknowledges that “the game definitely got fast for [him] a little bit” at third after a long pause in his work at that position. It took a lot of work and subtle adjustments, but Lindbergh explains that Castellanos has made strides in completing more difficult plays, especially on balls hit down the line. Certainly, the overall improvement bodes well for his long-term ability to stick at third, though his bat will need to come around as well.
- Fellow infielder Hernan Perez is now on the move from the Tigers after being claimed by the Brewers yesterday. GM Dave Dombrwoski says that he had attempted to recoup some value from Perez in trade, but interest was minimal. While that gave some hope that he’d get through waivers, it didn’t prove to be the case. (Video link via MLive.com.)