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AL Central Notes: Cespedes, Cabrera, Hafner, Glass Still Not Spending

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Let's check in with the AL Central, where the big question right now remains whether Yoenis Cespedes could end up with either the Cleveland Indians or the Detroit Tigers.

Here's the latest on how Cespedes could end up with the Tigers, why the Tigers aren't as bad off with Cabrera at 3rd as you think, why Royals' owner GM missed a tremendous opportunity to improve his club ($$$), and an interesting take on Travis Hafner avoiding lefties at Let's Go Tribe:

  • Signing Fielder could lead the Tigers to Cespedes - Bless You Boys
    This time, however, is different. Not only did the Tigers not offer arbitration to any of their departing free agents this winter, but the rules of the new CBA place strict limits on bonuses that can be given to drafted amateur players. Major league contracts, such as those given to Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander, and Castellanos, are a thing of the past.
  • Cespedes arriving in Miami on Tuesday - Joe Frisaro
    For months, the Marlins have made it clear that they are interested in Cespedes, regarded as a five-tool player with blazing speed and immense power. The Marlins, Tigers, Orioles, Cubs, White Sox and Indians have expressed the most interest in Cespedes, who can play all three outfield positions.

Tigers' defense better than you think with Miguel Cabrera at third - Bless You Boys
The Tigers were prepared to put Cabrera at third if they made it to the World Series last fall. They will put Cabrera at third base to start the 2012 season. Unless he is a total disaster at the position, expect him to play the vast majority of games at the hot corner. When Victor Martinez returns in 2013, he will fit right into the DH position where he was. That is not to say that Cabrera won’t occasionally DH or play first base, but the point here is that the Tigers are doing the right thing by starting Cabrera out at third base. Give it some time, even if it doesn’t start out well.

Tigers' Mike Ilitch one of few owners valuing wins over dollars - Joe Sheehan - SI.com
In recent years the Royals have spent a bit more in the draft and in international amateur signings than they had, but their approach to building the MLB roster remains penurious at best.

Three weeks ago, Glass could have written a check that made the Royals three, maybe four wins better by signing Jackson, who would have immediately become the team's best starting pitcher. The Royals have an exciting young lineup and a strong bullpen, as well as young starters who may not be ready in 2012. Adding Jackson to the mix to challenge a Tigers team reeling from the loss of its DH would have cost nothing but money and made Kansas City better.

  • Royals Bullpen Handedness Splits - Royals Review
    The difference between great relievers and the rest of them are their ability to get both left and right handed batters out. Most pitchers who have this ability to get out both handed batters are called starters. The following in a quick look at how the Royals bullpen's past handedness splits.

Travis Hafner: Exit stage left - Let's Go Tribe
And more importantly, Hafner shouldn't hit against lefties in 2012. Despite his struggles, Hafner still logged 108 plate appearances against lefties last season, good for more than 29% of his total PAs. This was actually up from the previous two seasons in which he had faced about 24% lefties.

One of the reasons the Indians need to have a right-handed bat on the team who can hit lefties is so that Travis Hafner doesn't have to face them. Sadly, of the guys most likely to fill the role of Hafner's replacement against lefties (Duncan, Cunningham, Santana) - none of them really fit the bill of lefty-specialist. But even if they aren't fantastic against lefties, merely being good, which they all have at some point, could represent a significant incremental improvement in the 2012 Tribe.

  • The starting rotation: Huff, Gomez and McAllister - Let's Go Tribe
    Assuming a starting rotation of Masterson, Jimenez, Lowe, Tomlin and Slowey break camp (admittedly, not necessarily a safe assumption), the three guys competing for the first call-up in the rotation will once again be David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez and Zach McAllister.