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Fishing For Sleepers: AL Central

Just as I expect the economy to negatively effect the National League Central teams, I expect it to do the same to the American League Central.  Teams will turn to their minor leagues to compete rather than trading for help that is accompanied by a multi-year contract.

Additonally, this lack of economic strength may have teams stick with the devil they know rather than a sleeper for longer than most fantasy players would like - especially those in AL-Only leagues.

Cleveland Indians, starting pitching:  Beyond Cliff Lee in the one-hole, is there any pitcher who sticks out as draftable?  No.  However, the baseball punditry loves the Indians.  If that love is returned, there will be wins in the rotation and likely from just a handful of pitchers.

Kansas City Royals, 2B:  When fishing for sleepers, a position in need is usually easy to identify.  When it is not, I will look at the depth charts and zero in on the weakest starter.  If nothing is apparent yet, I will look at the minor league system to see if a highly regarded prospect is right behind that weakest player.

In the Royals' case, the weakest player was 2B Alberto Callaspo with a nod towards SS Mike Aviles Year 27 rookie season.  However, there is nothing behind either who I'd consider sleeper material (Willie Bloomquist and Tony Pena).  A look in Royals minor leagues for middle infielders shows absolutely nothing in Baseball America's Top 30.  At least nothing that finished last season in AA.

Minnesota Twins: infielders ex-1B:  When Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto and Brian Buscher line-up to 1B Justin Morneau's right, you sense there is opportunity.  Residing in AAA is middle infielder Trevor Plouffe and 3B Danny Valencia, who hit a respectable 289/334/485 in half a season of AA.

Chicago White Sox, 2B and CF:  A mixture of Chris Getz, Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge will be fighting out a chance to start at 2B this Spring.  Getz offers some high single digit HRs and SBs if he wins.  Lillibridge offers 20+ SB if he does.

In CF, Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise battle for the job.  Owens offers the most as he is a season removed from 32 SBs.  However, Wise and Anderson have teased with double digit HR/SB ability.

Detroit Tigers, bullpen:  The Tigers brought in free agent reliever Brandon Lyon to close.  Given the presence of Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya, this job is going to be one worth watching all season.