Choosing which team to pick for your franchise in MLB: The Show can be a daunting task. Do you want to rebuild? What about picking a team loaded with cash, but little talent to show for it? What if you just want to pick a team with all of the tools at your disposal, and your only job is to win a World Series? The fact is, there is a variety of great teams to kick off your franchise with, but you only get to choose one. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we'll be going division by division and team by team to help you make your choice. With our fourth entry, here's the AL Central:
Depth Chart: Most people really liked what the Indians did with their roster, last year. Unfortunately, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourne have been significant disappointments, and there wasn't enough talent around them to help turn things around. This year, Cleveland relies heavily upon an up-and-coming pitching staff. There is enough talent spread around the roster that if everything goes right, a wildcard spot wouldn't be impossible. Better yet, there are a handful of trade pieces that could help any franchise user in a rebuild.
Pitchers: Masterson, Kluber, Salazar, Bauer, McCallister B-
Bullpen: Allen, Shaw, Axford, Outman B+
Infield: Gomes, Swisher, Kipnis, Cabrera, Santana B-
Outfield: Brantley, Bourne, Murphy C+
Bench: Giambi, Aviles, Raburn, Chisenhall C+
Farm System: The key will be holding onto Francisco Lindor, one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Outside of Lindor, most of the pieces the Indians have in their farm system (depending on whether or not Bauer makes your opening day roster, or not) is a long ways off from making a noticeable impact.
Keep An Eye On: Lindor (SS), Frazier (OF), Anderson (SP) C
Ballpark: Progressive Field isn't one of the more remarkable parks in the MLB, but there is a certain charm to it. Backing up to downtown Cleveland, the park feels smack dab in the middle of the city. The overly large wall in left-field is sure to provide plenty of disappointment for right-handed hitters. C+
Summary: Add the Cleveland Indians to the handful of teams in the MLB who seem stuck between making a playoff run, and having to rebuild from scratch. There are plenty of options to take this organization in, so if making big choices is your kind of thing, the Indians might be for you.
Kansas City Royals
Depth Chart: Let's face it, the Royals should probably be better. Outside of the controversial Shields for Meyer swap with Tampa Bay, the Royals have done everything exactly the way you're supposed to as a mid-market team: drafted well, developed well, and signed well. The unfortunate caveat is that none of their talent has produced at the same time.
Pitchers: Shields, Ventura, Duffy, Chen, Vargas C
Bullpen: Holland, Crow, Herrera, Davis A-
Infield: Perez, Butler, Moustakas, Escobar, Infante, Hosmer B-
Outfield: Gordan, Cain, Aoki B-
Bench: Dyson, Valencia, Ciriaco, Hayes C-
Farm System: While not quite the juggernaut of a farm system as it was a couple of years ago when Moustakas, Hosmer, and Ventura were roaming around down there, there is still plenty of talent to be found. There's a nice variety of MLB ready talent, and undeveloped talent in the likes of Bubba Starling.
Keep An Eye On: Zimmer (SP), Bonifacio (OF), Mondesi (SS)
Ballpark: Perhaps the most gorgeous view in baseball, Kauffman stadium looks more like an art exhibit than a baseball stadium, sometimes. This certainly isn't a bad thing, as you'll never get tired of looking out at the astounding arcs and waterfall in centerfield. Though, it's a deep field and can create some frustrating power droughts. B+
Summary: If you want a group of underachievers, look no further than the Kansas City Royals. There's plenty of work that can be done on the team, and its easy to see a world where things begin to click for some of their younger players and they give the Tigers a run for their money.
Depth Chart: What can go wrong when you have the best pitching staff and the best hitter in the major leagues? The answer: not a whole lot. The Tigers have dominated the AL Central in recent years, even with a few pesky teams knocking at their doorstep.
Pitchers: Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Smyly, Porcello A
Bullpen: Nathan, Alburquerque, Chamberlain, Coke C+
Infield: Avila, Cabrera, Kinsler, Inglesias, Castellanos, Martinez A-
Outfield: Hunter, Jackson, Dirks B
Bench: Holaday, Kelly, Romine, Davis B+
Farm System: The Tigers bolstered their farm system when they added Robbie Ray from the Doug Fister trade, though, it's still pretty shallow as a whole. Now that Castellanos is up, most of their talent is still a ways away from helping out the Tigers -- which is fine, because they certainly don't need it.
Keep An Eye On: Ray (SP), Travis (2B), Thompson (SP) C-
Ballpark: Comerica Park is hardly spectacular, but there is something cozy about the ballpark that crams just about everything into an extremely tight space; right in the middle of downtown Detroit. While not even close to being a classic, Comerica holds its own among most MLB stadiums. C+
Summary: Want to win a world series? Picking the Tigers would probably be your best bet. They have a loaded payroll, great pitching for years to come, and some young talent in Iglesias and Castellanos that should should provide stability after Hunter and Martinez are gone.
Depth Chart: The Twins are probably a few years away from being a regular contender in the AL Central. Outside of Joe Mauer and the out-of-the-blue talent Brian Dozier, there isn't a whole lot to like about the Twins' MLB roster, right now.
Pitchers: Nolasco, Correia, Deduno, Hughes, Gibson C+
Bullpen: Perkins, Burton, Fien, Duensing C
Infield: Suzuki, Mauer, Dozier, Escobar, Plouffe C+
Outfield: Hicks, Parmelee, Willingham C-
Bench: Pinto, Florimon, Nunez, Kubel C
Farm System: The Twins easily have the most stacked minor league system in all of baseball. They arguably have the two best prospects yet to be called up in Buxton and Sano, and they are loaded with pitching talent behind them.
Keep An Eye On: Buxton (OF), Sano (3B), Meyer (SP) A
Ballpark: Target Field can be infuriating for hitters, with tall walls in RF and a deep center field. There isn't much unusual about Target Field, making it a much less exciting alternative to the Metrodome, but a slightly more practical one. C
Summary: It's going to take a while, but if you're willing to sit on Sano and Buxton, you could have two top players in the AL on cheap contracts in a matter of just a couple of years. If you're intent on making the playoffs early, Sano and Buxton being used as trade pieces could probably net a haul. Hint: I would keep them.
Chicago White Sox
Depth Chart: The White Sox made the transition that many clubs stubbornly refuse to make: they sold off some of their best players in Rios and Peavy, got good returns, and spent that money wisely on the international market. Now, they have perhaps the most exciting young player in the game in Jose Abreu, and a promising farm system to go with it.
Pitchers: Sale, Quintana, Danks, Paulino, Johnson B-
Bullpen: Webb, Lindstrom, Jones, Downs C+
Infield: Flowers, Abreu, Konerko, Ramirez, Beckham, Gillaspie C+
Outfield: De Aza, Eaten, Viciedo B-
Bench: Danks, Dunn, Simien, Nieto C
Farm System: Ironically enough, the White Sox may have gotten their best prospect when they traded their closer (Addison Reed) to the Diamondbacks last year. There's plenty of young talent in the ChiSox farm system, but most of it is still a ways away.
Keep An Eye On: Davidson (3B), Anderson (SS), Johnson (2B) B
Ballpark: US Cellular Field is about as traditional as "newer" parks get. It certainly isn't ugly to look at, but there is little of interest outside of the large scoreboard in straightaway center field. C-
Summary: The White Sox have set themselves up for a potential run in the near future, with having plenty of payroll to mess with. It won't be easy overcoming the proven tigers, or the younger Royals, but Jose Abreu and Chris Sale should be a nightmarish tandem for other competitors to deal with for years to come.