- St. Louis Cardinals: A seemingly harmless fly ball that was dropped in Game 2 of the NLDS ended any chance of a deep Cardinal playoff run in 2009. But with a fairly similar team coming back in 2010 one should expect St. Louis to make a return to the postseason. They have one of the best 1-2 punches atop their rotation with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. And they have one of the best 3-4 hitters in their lineup with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Their pitching has some wild cards in Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny, but with pitching guru Dave Duncan on the bench they should have just fine years. Behind Pujols and Holliday, the Cards have some questionable hitting, which holds me back from tabbing them NL contenders. But for now I will tab them NL Central division champs.
- Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers had a down year in 2009. They had some under performing players and some injury plagued players that held them down. 2010, however, has bright lights shining on Milwaukee in my opinion. They needed some experienced pitchers and they got that in the form of Randy Wolf and Dave Bush. They also now have youngsters Carlos Gomez roaming center field and Alcides Escobar at shortstop, as the Brewers lineup got a bit younger. Let's not forget Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun anchor this lineup that can do serious damage, and they have Trevor Hoffman closing games in the ninth. I like how this team is built, and I gave some serious thought to them as the NL Wild Card winner, but they need just a bit more experience which was my deciding factor. But don't expect the Brewers to go quietly.
- Chicago Cubs: One would think the Cubs would give St. Louis a run for their money in 2010. On paper they certainly seem poised to do so. But it's the Cubs we are talking about. For so many years they have looked good on paper, but they always have some catastrophic meltdown. Sure, the Cubs have a good pitching staff (Lead by ace Carlos Zambrano) and sure, they have a dangerous lineup (3 players in this lineup are capable of hitting 30 home runs). But will I pick the Cubs to win the central? No. Will I pick them second? No. They get a bronze medal in this race. So let's sit back and watch them unravel for the 102nd straight year.
- Houston Astros: The fans in Houston did not have much to cheer about in 2009. I expect the same in 2010 from the Astros. They have one proven pitcher in Roy Oswalt and two proven hitters in Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman. They have young outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence. But beyond the before mentioned players the Astros have some wild card players and some young unproven players coming up. They have yet to name a closer and their options (Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom) are not eye pleasing. But they have new manager Brad Mills who has two World Series rings from Boston, and I like his experience on the bench. But it is not enough to get Houston anywhere this year.
- Cincinnati Reds: If you're a Reds fan, the future of this team seems very bright. They have some young talented hitters (Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips) and some young talented pitchers (Aaron Harang, Homer Bailey, and Aroldis Chapman). Chapman, was their high priced signing in the offseason as he came highly touted while defecting from Cuba. Now the Reds are trying to find the right mix of veterans to this young core. They signed free agent SS Orlando Cabrera this offseason, while having veteran pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Arthur Rhodes on the pitching staff. But I still think they are a couple of years away from putting up a great fight in this division.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Here's another team that has a bright future. And if you live in Pittsburgh you would hope the Pirates can keep this core of talented players they have assembled on the team. Promising hitters Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Ryan Doumit lead the team as they try to end Pittsburgh's 18 year skid of losing seasons. Their rotation is up in the air as Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, and Paul Maholm try to make names for themselves. The only recognizable name in the bullpen is Octavio Dotel and he is a wild card at best. The pitching will hold Pittsburgh back from doing great things this year, but it may be a strong point in the years to come.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
MLB Preview-NL Central
Here's the breakdown of the NL Central. There are definitely some good teams in here so lets see how I picked them...