AL Central Notes: Tyler Flowers, Justin Morneau, Jose Valverde

Brian Kersey

Taking a look at the news in the AL Central.

The Tigers won the AL Central last season, and went on to win the American League pennant. They should receive competition this year from the White Sox, Indians, and Royals, all of whom improved over the offseason. Let's look at the recent buzz in this division.

Can Flowers blossom?

Cee Angi, one of the Designated Columnists, wrote about Tyler Flowers and the White Sox' catching situation. I agree that it is not a good idea to send the catcher into the season without a possible replacement, but I also can see why the team would want to do that. Flowers does not have to be looking over his shoulder and worrying about losing his job, which at the catcher position is very important.

I think Flowers could be a promising player for the White Sox, offering potential pop from behind the plate. He is a player I have been fascinated by for the past few seasons, so I am looking forward to seeing how he does.

Morneau open to extension

Entering the final year of his contract, Justin Morneau is open to an extension. The 2006 American League MVP has struggled in recent years, and the Twins may not want to retain the first baseman.

Morneau could be a valuable trade chip for teams that need a bat at the deadline, but the Twins would likely have to eat some salary as he is making $14 million next year, which may be more than most teams can add at the deadline. If the Twins make the money work, the Rays could be a nice fit for the slugging first baseman.

Tigers not interested in Valverde?

Despite the fact that they would be going with the unproven Bruce Rondon at closer, the Tigers are not interested in bringing back Jose Valverde. Valverde was the Tigers' closer last season, but the team has reportedly no shown any interest in retaining the 34-year old.

I think that the Tigers would be fine if they went with Rondon, as I am of the belief that if a pitcher has a good fastball and a breaking ball, that they can close. While that may be an oversimplification, Rondon certainly fits that criteria, and is a good candidate to close games for the reigning AL champs.

Royals ready to win?

Dayton Moore did an interview with a Kansas City radio station, and Craig Brown of Royals Review provided running commentary. Moore talks about how the Royals should be able to contend this season, which would certainly fit the moves the team made in the offseason.

I personally would expect the Royals to be in the low-80s in wins if everything goes right, but that is hardly the case. I do not think that Shields and Davis make up for the difference between Wil Myers and Jeff Francoeur, but the fun part about baseball is that anything can happen. The Royals should certainly be more fun to watch this year, even more so if their young core improves.

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