Wednesday, April 01, 2009
It's the NL Central Home of the dominant Pirates of Pittsburgh.
1. Chicago Cubs
Good news for Cubbyland, SI didn't pick them to win the World Series. Bad news for Cubbyland, none of their fans were alive for their last Championship. Their the favorites of the NL Central and potentially of the NL, but they'll choke at some point in time.
Key Player: Rich Harden, Señor Lesión pitched in 25 games last season, that feels like a career high. On the mound he's amongst the most dominant pitchers in baseball, he just can't stay there. A healthy Rich Harden in the postseason would be very nice in the playoffs.
Player to Eye: Milton Bradley, Why do you want to watch Milton Bradley? Well cause he's a nut job and any potential blow up or shouting match with Sweet Lou will be the hottest youtube video in the entire blogsphere.
Record Prediction: 90-72
2. Milwaukee Brewers
Losing Fatassia and Sheets will hurt their chances to take home the division crown, but they do have a solid young lineup with tons of potential. If they can get some solid starting pitching from the Suppans and Loopers of the world [vomit] than maybe they can again land a playoff spot.
Key Player: Yovani Gallardo, Lots of the Brewers success will be lying on the Mexican wonders shoulders. He's their ace now. No more Sheets. No more Sabathia. It's on him. He needs to be the horse. The rest of the rotation is filled with .500 pitchers, Gallardo needs to make the difference.
Player to Eye: Rickie Weeks, Rickie Weeks formerly of Top Prospect fame is now a power hitting speedster with a miserable contanct rate. Weeks came in with hype hype hype and has lived up to none of it. He's been poor on defense and has loved the strikeout. Loved it. This spring however he's killing the ball, so is this the year that he finally gets the average to respectability?
Record Prediction: 85-77
3. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are sleepers right now. They're best pitchers were injured last year and they brought in some massive players like Khalil Green. Ok, maybe they didn't bring in massive players but with Wainwright and Carpenter manning the top two spots they have a chance.
Key Player: Albert Pujols, The idea that anybody on St. Louis is anywhere close to as important as Albert Pujols is a joke. Anything happens to Albert Pujols and the Cardinals can pack up their bags and look forward to the 2010 season.
Player to Eye: Chris Carpenter, Back from the dead, Chris Carpenter is a forgotten man. From 2004 to 2006 Carpenter was an absolute terror on the mound. Then he blows out his arm in his first start in 07 and uh oh, nighty night Chris. Essentially the 08 season was lost as well and now nobody remembers the name Chris Carpenter. Still he'll only be 33 at the start of the season (34 on April 27th), and he is lighting up hitters in the spring. He could be the steal of all steals come fantasy drafts.
Record Prediction: 81-81
4. Cincinnati Reds
Who wants to go out on a limb and predict the Reds to win the NL Central? Steve Philips does. Not me. I see the potential with the Reds. Harang should return to his solid 06&07 numbers. Volquez and Cueto have dominant stuff. Cornroyyo has pitched well in the past. They have potential for having the best staff 1 through 5 in the NL Central.
Key Player: Joey Votto, Not to put too much pressure on a seond year major leaguer, but there's gonna be a lot of put on Votto's shoulders. Someones got to hit in the middle of the lineup without the Big Donkey and Griffey, that man will be Votto. They really need him to take a step forward to make a playoff push.
Player to Eye: Johnny Cueto, Remember last year when Johnny Cueto was all the rage in spring training and april. Man people were jumping on the band wagon left and right. Now the bandwagon is empty yet he's lighting up the spring stats once again. Perhaps this will be the year he actually rises to the top of the heap.
Record Prediction: 78-84
5. Houston Astros
When Russ Ortiz is battling for the 5th spot in your rotation things probably aren't that good. And if that wasn't bad enough Mike Hampton is one of the starters you are relying on. The Astros be skrewed.
Key Player: Lance Berkman, Lance was HERO at the start of last season, but then the numbers trickled and trickled to mediocre throughout the rest of the year. Now his arm is barking in the spring. Without Lance in the lineup and with the pitching in the status that I described above, the Astros are gooing to be in massive trouble.
Player to Eye: Wandy Rodriguez, This is kind of a throw up the hands and pick somebody. Honeslty, I think the Astros might be one of the least interesting teams in all of baseball. They have 3 really good players in Berkman, Oswalt and Lee. The rest is kind of just unintriguing players. Wandy made a massive jump last year from his previous bests, will he take another step forward or will he regress back to the prior poor stats.
Record Prediction: 75-87
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Yay LaRoches. That isn't the Pirates motto, but it probably should be. Or Rotations of Yankee Castoffs works as well with Karstens and Ohlendorf filling out the back of their rotation. Whatever their motto is it certainly won't be a good one. This squad is going to set the futility record because it has no shot of going 81-81.
Key Player: Ian
Oquendo Snell, The Pirates are going to need a lot to go right if they want to even approach 81 wins this year, the first is they need one of their most talented pitchers to not pitch like shit. Last year Ian Snell saw his positive stat progessions and said screw that and sprinted in the opposite direction. His ERA wound up nearly 2 runs higher than his 07 number. The Pirates really really really need 07 Snell and not 08 Snell.
Player to Eye: Andy LaRoche, Why not include a LaRoche? At least he's been a top prospect and is what the Dodgers had to give up to get Manny F'n Ramirez. He better decide that he's gonna hit better than .166. Ouch.
Record Prediction: 65-97
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