Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 NL Central Preview - Brad

Only 122 hours until first pitch! Here’s my annual inaccurate predictions of the NL Central. Matt will also be doing one and Woz will have an extensive breakdown of your Milwaukee Brewers.

Cubs - Well, according to the experts, the Cubs are the hands-down favorites to win the division. Looking at the lineup, rotation, and bullpen...it's hard to argue. Adding the import makes them a more balanced lineup with another LH bat that can get on base. Kerry Wood is supposedly throwing lights out and will be the closer. Even if he gets hurt (shocking, I know) Marmol is a lights out closer in waiting. The rest of the bullpen is solid....and the rotation is the best in the division. Hate to admit it, but they are the class of the NL Central. Record: 89-73

Reds - I think the Reds will make some noise this year….I swear I picked them second before I saw Verducci at SI do the same thing. You know they'll score some runs. I've been to that phone booth twice and the ball jumps out of there like it was shot out of a cannon. n. They splurged on CoCo, but he should be good for at least 2 of those 4 years. The Reds blew a whopping 28 saves last year, so just how much did they need him? Signing Cordero moves Stormy Weathers to the 8th inning role, which he is more suited for. All they need is Chuck Crim and Doug Jones to make an all ex-Brewer bully. Arroyo and Harang-atang makes for a decent front end and if they get anything from uber-prospect Homer Bailey (should be a Brewer, but we drafted Smokey Jeffress), look out. They have a nice mix of veterans (Dunn, Cordero, Harang, Griffey, Stormy), proven youngsters on the rise (Phillips, Encarnacion), and MLB ready prospects (Bailey, Votto, Volzquez, Bruce, Cueto). Call me crazy, I like this team....which means they will win about 73 games. Record 85-77

Brewers - After pissing away the division in 2007, what can the Brewers do for an encore? Mash, that's what. Mash early and often, although the lineup is woefully right handed. Adding Cameron was a great defensive addition. Even so, the Brewers are still below average defensively at C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, and LF. "SS?" you ask. I have no idea what range factor is, but JJ's was the worst in baseball last year. Many (including Baseball Prospectus and nerd Bill James) have him moving to 3B in the not too distant future. They key of the season might be Eric Gagne. Did we sign the Texas (very good) or Boston version (gas can) of Gagne. Last year you could pencil in 40+ saves from Cordero and forget about it. Not this year. If Gagne blows up, in comes Turnbow, or McClung...a situation Brewer fans would rather avoid seeing. Quite frankly, there's just too many guys in the bullpen I don’t trust: Gagne, Turnbow, Torres, McClung, Cappy, Mota, etc. And as deep as the rotation is, Gallerdo is already hurt (trust me, they'll take their sweet time bringing him back) and after Sheets goes on the DL, you're left with a bunch of 5 inning pitchers. Oh, and you still have Ned Yost handling this situation. Overall, I'm not so sure if this team is any better than last years version. I hope I'm wrong, REALLY wrong. Record: 84-78.

Cardinals - What the hell happened? Didn't they win the World Series like 18 months ago? Suppan, Edmonds, Rolen, Eckstien, Marquis, Weaver, Carpenter (hurt), and Hancock (dead) all MIA. Replaced with....Troy Glaus? That's not good enough. The Pujols elbow issue has to scare the hell out of the front office. That baby could blow at any second. With the Cards struggling to compete, it wouldn't surprise me if they shut him down well before September. Oh, and expect at least 3 more guys to miss time with DUIs. Record: 75-87

Astros - If baseball rosters went 4 deep, Houston would be pretty good. Oswalt, Berkman, Caballo, and Pence makes for a solid core. That said, the direction of this team (if they have one) baffles me. You figure they would go cheap/young/rebuild after the closing of the Biggio-Bagwell-Lidge-Clemens era. But the farm system sucks so bad they had to go the veteran route picking up Miggy Tejada, Kaz Matsui and Joe Valverde. Bad idea. This team isn't close this year, and wont be for a long time with a bone-dry farm system. The rotation blows after Oswalt. Record: 75-87.

Pirates - New owner, new GM, new Manger, same shitty Pirates. Take a look at that lineup? Holy Hell! Don't they draft in the top 5 every year? And all you can give me is Andy LaRoche and Xavier Nady batting 4-5? They do have some good, young arms but asking this team to win 75 games is like asking Woz to not drink at a Miller Park…ain’t gonna happen. Too bad because they have a sweet ballpark and a lot of history in that organization. Record: 68-94


All NL Central Team

C - Yaddy Molina (STL). Forget the numbers, this guy completely shuts down the opponents running game. He's like Henry Blanco, only with a useful bat (.275, 40 RBI).
Honorable Mention: Geovany Soto (CHI)

1B - Prince Fielder (MIL). Big Poppa has unseated Pujols at the ripe old age of 23. Prince is in a better lineup, should drive in more runs, and doesn't have 21 things wrong with his elbows. Plus, he's pissed. A pissed off Prince is good for the Brewers, bad for the NL Central.
Honorable Mention: Al Pujols (STL), Derek Lee (CHI)

2B - Brandon Phillips (CIN). The noted Brewer-killer is now an everyone-killer. He had a breakout year with pop (30 bombs), a solid average (.288), speed (32 steals), and very good defense.
Honorable Mention: Freddy Sanchez (PIT)

3B - Aramis Ramirez (CHI). A-Ram hit .310 and topped 100 RBIs for the 5th time in his career.
Honorable Mention: Edwin Encarnacion (CIN)

SS - Miggy Tejada. His best days are behind him, but he's the best of the bunch. Playing at Houston will only help his numbers.
Honorable Mention: JJ Hardy (MIL)

OF - Adam Dunn (CIN). Don't worry about the low batting average and big strikeout totals. His on base was .386 while mashing 40 bombs and 106 RBIs. I think he's in a contract year as well...always a production-booster.
OF - Carlos Lee (HOU). The Horse keeps mashing, in a park tailor made for his swing. .303, 32, 119 in his first season in Houston.
OF - Ryan Braun (MIL). Braun may have never played an inning of OF in his life, but his bat is that good. This guy is a beast with attitude. Is .324-34-97 in 113 games any good? Knock on wood: no sophomore slump.
Honorable Mention: Alph Soriano (CHI), Corey Hart (MIL), Jason Bay (PIT), Hunter Pence (HOU)

SP - Roy Oswalt (HOU)
SP - Carlos Zambrano (CHI)
SP - Aaron Harang (CIN)
SP - Ian Snell (PIT)
SP - Tom Gorzalany (PIT)
Honorable Mention: Ted Lilly (CHI), Rich Hill (CHI), Ben Sheets (MIL), Adam Wainright (STL), Yo Gallerdo (MIL)

CL - Jose Valverde (HOU).
Honorable Mention: CoCo Cordero (CIN), Matt Capps (PIT)

Well, there you go. Banking on any of this to happen will only cause heartache and stress.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

brewers drafted rogers instead of Bailey, not Jeffress

garcia said...

Rich Hill is a joke....wait and see

brad said...

Ah, my bad.

Anonymous said...

you expect me to read all that?