Conventional wisdom would lead one to assume that the the rest of the American League Central would be chasing the Detroit Tigers this offseason. After all, the Tigers did win the Central once again, for the fourth consecutive year. However, it was the Kansas City Royals that won the American League, not the Tigers. The Tigers flamed out in the playoffs, just as they have in each of the previous four years.
With the Royals on pitching and defense, they managed to come within one game of winning the World Series. The Tigers, meanwhile, continued to shoot themselves in the foot with the dumpster fire of a bullpen that they have had over the past few years. The names may not be the same, but the results have been.
Meanwhile, this offseason, the Royals have stayed the course. Recognizing their strengths, they have continued to build upon them, bringing back Jason Frasor and trading Aaron Crow, two moves that should strengthen their bullpen. Now the Royals just need to find a starting pitcher and a right fielder.
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As the Royals continue on their way, the rest of the division is littered with question marks. Does Dave Dombrowski understand what a bullpen is? Can the Indians prove that 2013 was not a fluke season? Do the Twins and the White Sox actually have a prayer this season, or will they continue to be the doormats of the Central?
Yes, it is still early in the offseason, and there are still a great many free agents out there. Plenty of dominoes are left to fall between now and Opening Day. Yet, based off last season, there was one team that the rest of the division should be chasing and it is not the Tigers.
For the first time since 1986, a new banner will be raised in Kauffman Stadium. And that banner may as well be a target, as the Central now needs to find a way to chase down the Royals.