Friday, March 30, 2012

MLB 2012 Preview: NL Central

6. Houston Astros: Lets be real folks, this team will be a solid lock for the worst record again this year. They have one solid starter (Wandy Rodriguez) and one decent bat in their lineup (Carlos Lee, who is seeing his skills diminish due to age). If Houston wins 60 games that would be impressive. Have fun moving to the AL West next year.

5. Chicago Cubs: Again, being real here, this team has very little to offer. Ryan Dempster was not good last year, so it remains to be seen how he will fare in 2012. Alfonso Soriano is still with the Cubs, and still is under performing. Starlin Castro appears to be the face of the Cubs moving forward, but, he will be the face of a franchise in a rebuilding mode.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Last year, the Pirates were the surprise team in baseball through June. But, a second half collapse saw them fall into fourth place. This year the Pirates return with a similar team, but they added AJ Burnett to be the staff ace and brought in Rod Barajas to replace Ryan Doumit who left for Minnesota. It would be fun to see Pittsburgh have a run similar to 2011, but keep it going much past June. But they play in a tough division and they finish closer to the top in fourth place, than the bottom.

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Despite the loss of Prince Fielder, the Brewers are still going to put up a lot of runs (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, and Rickie Weeks lead the way). They still have a good starting rotation (Led by Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke). But, their problem lies in the bullpen. If they get the lead to the 8th, its game over with K-Rod and John Axford. But before those guys, it doesn't look very good. So getting to Brewers starters early will be key for the opposition. Its hard to pick the Brewers third, but with the talent the two teams above them have, its the only spot they could finish.

2. St. Louis Cardinals: Somehow, the Cardinals got in the postseason and won the World Series in 2011. No one certainly thought Albert Pujols would leave. But he did. And to replace him in the lineup the team brought in Carlos Beltran. With Beltran, this team has a very good lineup (Matt Holiday, Lance Berkman, David Freese bolt down the middle of the order). They are still very strong pitching wise despite the uncertainty of Chris Carpenter's health. The Cardinals make a good run for the division title, but they fall just short and hope for a Wild Card spot.

1. Cincinnati Reds: The Reds set out this offseason to get some starting pitching. So they went out and did just that, when they acquired Mat Latos from San Diego. Throw him in the rotation with Cueto, Arroyo, Bailey, Leake, and possibly Chapman, this team is very deep with their starting 5. Their lineup is one of the best in the NL (lead by 2010 MVP Joey Votto). And their bullpen looks to be solid with Ryan Madson set to close games for the Reds. Ultimately, this team made the right moves this offseason, and it gives them the division title despite close calls from St. Louis and Milwaukee.

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