1. Minnesota Twins
Highlights: The Twins won the Central with a 94-68 record. Joe Mauer was fantastic as always posting a .327/.402/.469 line. The Twins opened their shiny new open air ballpark. Justin Morneau put together an MVP caliber .345/.437/.618 line. Danny Valencia played over his head after getting called up to play third base. Francisco Liriano returned to ace status with a 3.62/2.66/3.06 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) pitching line. The zombie corpse of Carl Pavano pitched a decent season and had a 3.75 ERA. I picked them to beat the Yankees in the LDS.
Lowlights: Got swept by the Yankees in the LDS. Lost Joe Nathan before the season. Only got 81 games out of Justin Morneau before losing him for the season to a concussion. Joe Mauer lost his power and only hit nine home runs. Brett Favre returned for another season and they traded for Randy Moss. It's cold outside in Minnesota in April.
Hot Stove Outlook: The Twins payroll is tied up in Joe Mauer so don't expect much tinkering. They had to take out a second mortgage on The Mall of America to keep Mauer in Minnesota.
2. Chicago White Sox
Highlights: Well, they somehow managed to finish second in the Central with an 88-74 record. Mark Buehrle made the play of the year on opening day. Paul Konerko had a monster season hitting 39 homers and a .312/.393/.584 line. The Sox managed to get 107 inning out of the appendage formerly known as Jake Peavy's arm. Matt Thornton was the best reliever in the AL. Ozzie Guillen started a Twitter account @OzzieGuillen!
Lowlights: Gordon Beckham forgot how to play baseball. They traded Dan Hudson for Edwin Jackson. Not nearly enough Ozzie.
Hot Stove Outlook: Kenny Williams isn't afraid to throw around cash whether it makes sense or not. Maybe they take a run at Brandon Webb, he used to be a good pitcher.
3. Detroit Tigers
Highlights: Frankly, it's a miracle they finished with a .500 record considering they have one Major League hitter in their lineup. I got a lot of pleasure from the giddiness of Tigers fans over Austin Jackson and his .396 BABIP and Brandon Boesch's nice month-ish. That's more of a highlight for me though. The hitter I alluded to, of course, is Miggy Cabrera who did his normal 38 homer, .328/.420/.622 thing. Justin Verlander had a Cy Young ballot worthy season and youngsters Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer had fine seasons.
Lowlights: In all seriousness, the Tigers lost long time skipper Sparky Anderson when he passed away this week. A true legend on and off of the field. In fact, it's so sad that I won't even make fun of the Tigers here.
Hot Stove Outlook: My fear is that the Tigers will be bidding on the services of Carl Crawford against my beloved Halos. And I think they might have a shot too.
4. Cleveland Indians
Highlights: Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana before he got hurt. And I'm spent.
Lowlights: A 69-93 record. The most racist mascot in baseball. Grady Sizemore can't stay on the field anymore. Travis Hafner is a shell of his former Pronk. Fausto Carmona was their best pitcher with a 2.7 WAR (wins above replacement). Choo might have to go serve military time soon. LeBron left. I might be their best minor league prospect.
Hot Stove Outlook: Hope General Custer wins this round and start from scratch.
5. Kansas City Royals
Highlights: The minor league system is pretty loaded and the future looks bright with Hosmer leading the way. Billy Butler is turning into an On Base machine. Joe Posnanski is still a fan, although they seem to have lost Rob Neyer. We got to make fun of Wilson Betemit a lot even though he was pretty decent. Awesome Bar-B-Que.
Lowlights: They're still the Royals and finished with a 67-95 record. They played Yuni Betancourt at short stop for 151 games. They played Yuni Betancourt at short stop for 151 games. That repeat was not a typo, it counts twice. The Royals also employed Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Willie Bloomquist and Chris Getz. Woof.
Hot Stove Outlook: Wild trade rumors surrounding Zack Greinke or Joakim Soria. One of those is a good idea.