During this past off-season, AL Central teams were involved in as many significant trades as any division in baseball. There are many new faces in the division, some of whom have performed better than those they replaced, and some who haven’t. In honor of the one-third mark of the season, we’re going to make the newcomers to the neighborhood welcome by providing them with between one and five tasty, home-baked casseroles, depending on their impact and performance thus far.
(Ed. Note: These casseroles are meant to be for your imagination. Author Joel Gillespie wanted to put clipart photos of digital casseroles into the post. No, he is not on drugs.)
Chicago White Sox
Carlos Quentin (5 of 5): If it weren’t for Josh Hamilton’s Roy Hobbs impression in Texas, Quentin would be the front-runner for the AL MVP at this point in the season. He’s second (to Hamilton) in the AL in both home runs and RBI, and he’s in the top 10 in on-base percentage. It’s scary to think where the White Sox offense would be without Quentin this year.
Orlando Cabrera (2 of 5): Although he wasn’t expected to swing a superstar bat, Cabrera has still been a mild disappointment. Other than a two-homer game against the Giants a couple of weeks ago, he hasn’t hit for any power, and he’s not getting on base anywhere near often enough to justify his spot in the #2 hole.
Masa Kobayashi (3 of 5): For a middle reliever, Kobayashi’s been decent, but it looks like the Indians needed to add more help than this to compete – let alone repeat – in the Central.
Miguel Cabrera (1 of 5): Cabrera probably earned a two-casserole rating, but he ate one of them before this article was posted. His hitting has been okay — if below his career track record — but his absent-minded defense and lazy baserunning have set the tone for a confounding Tigers season. He hasn’t been as good as advertised, but it’d be unfair to put too much blame on Cabrera when there is plenty to lay at the feet of the pitching staff.
Edgar Renteria (2 of 5): After a couple of strong years in the National League, Renteria is hitting about like he did with Boston in 2005, which earned him a quick ticket out of town to Atlanta.
Dontrelle Willis (N/A – Bowl of Chicken Soup; Matzo Balls optional): Willis was expected to solidify the middle of the Tigers’ rotation, but he’s been mostly hurt, and wild when healthy. He’s on the way back, though, so hopefully this bowl of chicken soup will aid him on the road to recovery.
Kansas City Royals
Jose Guillen (2 of 5): April was a solid one-casserole month for Guillen, and it was May 7 before he raised his batting average over .200. He’s been on a tear for the past couple weeks, giving Royals fans hope that his three-year free-agent contract wasn’t a total waste, but it’s likely that he’ll run hot and cold for its duration. He leads the team in homers and RBI, which would be more impressive if his teammates weren’t so punchless.
Yasuhiko Yabuta (2 of 5): Yabuta was a complete train wreck in April, giving up twelve runs in thirteen innings, but he’s actually been decent in low-importance relief roles since then, giving up only two runs in May. The Royals even brought back Hideo Nomo to ease Yabuta’s transition to the U.S., but Nomo couldn’t pitch well enough to hold down his translator’s spot and was released.
Carlos Gomez (3 of 5): Gomez was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana deal, and he’s provided no shortage of excitement in his short Twins career. It’s hard to tell whether he’s actually a good baseball player at this point in his career or not, but he’s sure fun to watch. He plays the game like the hyperactive 22-year-old that he is, swinging at everything and running the bases with abandon. He’s also shown more power than expected, and has a great arm in center field. Gomez is making the loss of Torii Hunter easier to take, at least for this fan.
Delmon Young (2 of 5): The Twins gave up Matt Garza, a top young pitcher, to get Young. That looks like a mistake at this early stage, as Young has yet to hit a home run as a Twin, and he plays left field with the grace of a born designated hitter. He’s able to drive fastballs to right field with authority, but off-speed stuff is a complete mystery to him, and he hasn’t shown the ability to turn on the ball yet. Like Gomez, he’s only 22, so there’s a chance that he could develop into a star, but he hasn’t shown much of the potential he came advertised with in his initial run in the Twin Cities.