Yesterday, I started going through the divisions to revise some of the goals for each team as they look toward the end of the season. Please check out our revised priorities for teams in the AL East and the NL East. Indeed, as I said then, while winning the World Series is a laudable goal, it simply isn't a realistic one for every team every year, especially since 29 of them are going to fall short.
So, given where they are now, here are some realistic and revised goals for the teams in the American League Central, so that they can at least feel good about how they finish:
Current record: 59-65, 5.0 games back in the Wild Card race
That they didn't sell at the trade deadline is looking a little silly now, given that they'll almost certainly lose Jeff Samardzija to free agency. On the bright side, I finally learned how to spell Samardzija without having to look it up this year. They still have an intriguing mix of young players at their core in Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, and Avisail Garcia, who could remain excellent and/or still take big steps forward in 2016.
New goal: Try to finish strong, and let youth be served. Give Erik Johnson another shot at the starting rotation.
Can feel ok about settling for: The joy of watching Chris Sale try to strike out 300 batters.
Current record: 59-66
Blessed with one of the most talented starting rotations in baseball, a dynamic rookie in Francisco Lindor, and two all-world performances out of Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley, a lot has gone right for the Indians in 2015. But so many other things have been awful. Yan Gomes has been hurt and performed badly. Lonnie Chisenhall took another step back. Carlos Santana is a shell of his former self. The defense was bad, the bullpen was suspect, and the injuries kept piling up.
New goal: Like the White Sox, the Indians can't exactly salvage their season, but they can try and finish out around .500 to build for 2016.
Can feel ok about settling for: Getting Gomes back on track and keeping the rest of the rotation healthy now that Carlos Carrasco is on the DL.
Current record: 59-66
The Tigers threw up the white flag in July, and dealt away David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Joakim Soria. Severely depleted, and in a tie for last place in the division, it will be difficult to finish out the year with any kind of enthusiasm, but there is still a ton of talent on this roster.
New goal: Get back to .500.
Can feel ok about settling for: Figuring out which of the young pitchers they acquired are going to be able to stick around for 2016, and which will be used as trade bait to retool for another run at the AL Central. Also, the privilege of getting to watch Randy Wolf, The Pitcher of the People, every five days for the rest of the year.
Current record: 77-48, leading the AL Central
Owners of the best record in the American League, and one of two clubs guaranteed to make the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus, the Royals are on the hunt for their second World Series appearance in a row. At the moment, they're the odds-on favorite to get there, given that they're the only division leader whose cushion is safe.
New goal: Get Alex Gordon healthy, try to rest Salvador Perez (who has started behind the plate in 105 of his club's 125 games) for God's sake, win the World Series.
Can feel ok about settling for: No settling. The Royals are too good and gave up too much at the deadline to settle for anything less than it all.
Current record: 64-61, 0.5 games back in the Wild Card race
An afterthought coming into the season, the Twins have surprisingly hung in there in the Wild Card race, building enthusiasm in a once moribund fan base. With Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Eddie Rosario all in the Majors, they've received all the help they're going to get from their minor league system, and will go as far as their dynamic young talent can take them.
New goal: Winning the 2nd wild card would be pretty sweet, even if the Twins are prime candidates for a quick postseason exit.
Will settle for: There would be no shame in finishing above .500, given where this club started from.
And that's it for the AL Central. I'll be back later today with a look at the NL Central.