So, Rick Hahn, how do you like Jeff Keppinger now?

While the White Sox's rookie general manager eases into this extended spring training camp, his 13th with the organization, the bet on the American League Central table has grown, the latest raise coming about the time Hahn's flight was touching down Monday.

As Hahn and manager Robin Ventura were driving their rental cars to the Camelback Ranch complex, cellular phones and pocket calculators were humming away in nearby Goodyear, home to the Indians. After adding Yankee castoff Nick Swisher at the cost of $56 million, they found another $48 million to keep Michael Bourn from going on the side of a milk carton.

I guess someone still does care about baseball in Cleveland. Outside of new manager Terry Francona (who must have had a sneak preview of this strategy), who knew?

"Our division is going to be tough,'' Hahn said Tuesday after the first workout for the White Sox's pitchers and catchers. "Obviously Cleveland has improved from the 68-win team it was last year. Kansas City has improved from the 72-win team. It's going to be tough facing every team in the Central this year. I've got to give a lot of credit to (Indians general manager) Chris Antonetti and (President) Mark Shapiro.''

While the Blue Jays and Angels have grabbed the biggest headlines this offseason, ESPN's Keith Law calls the American League Central the most improved division in baseball.

The Tigers went to the World Series a year ago and look significantly stronger after adding Torii Hunter. regaining a healthy Victor Martinez and getting a full year from Anibal Sanchez, who signed a five-year $80-million deal. They will be a strong favorite but opinion figures to be split on who will give them the strongest chase, the rebuilt Indians and Royals or the White Sox, who used their resources to hang onto Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd.