Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MLB Preview - Part V

As a follow up to yesterdays review of the NL East, I humbly submit my thoughts and wreckless predictions of what might be the silliest division in the majors. Six teams makes it the biggest, and if it weren't the Pirates I would say they all have a shot at winning it. I have no reservation in saying I have the least amount of confidence in these predictions as compared to every other division. Cinci was under four games out of the pennant at the end of last year and were not a .500 team. The Cubbies have some big bats, as do the Astros, but I think the Brewers have the best pitching staff. That said, as usual- feel free to leave comments. This time I might not argue with you if you disagree with me. All these teams are mediocre.

NL Central

1. Brewers- This might be the first team, yep- it is the first team, that I, BSR, have applauded for the work they have done acquiring pitching. It is this pitching that leads me to seat Milwaukee atop the NL Central. Picking up Jeff Suppan and Claudio Vargas will round out a young but emerging rotation. Francisco Cordero is a solid closer and they have a handful or capable arms in the middle- I like Greg Aquino, Derrick Turnbow a la 2005, and Matt Wise’s goatee. Johnny Estrada, newly arrived from Arizona gives them a decent bat behind the plate. “I really like the way he handles the staff. The bat is a bonus.” Another solid year from Prince Fielder on first, a break out season would be good from Corey Hart in right, and big numbers from Geoff Jenkins in left will have many taking notice of this team comprised of relative unknowns. I like the Brew Crew.

2. Astros- Losing Pettite and potentially the Rocket too will be hard not miss in Houston. It doesn’t require rocket science to realize that Jason Jennings will not be able to fill the void left by those two, but he can try. It isn’t going to happen from the DL though. Forcing the four man rotation so soon? Woody Williams and Wandy Rodriguez aren’t gonna win too many for ya this year. I hope Carlos Lee is worth the $100 million they shelled out to get him. Does he look fat in those road uniforms? His bat will be a big help, hopefully outweighing the hindrance his glove will be. They will get the usual production from Biggio, Berkman, and Morgan Ensberg. With addition of Lee, Lidge might have a chance to pick up a few saves. They will outscore more than they out-pitch anyone. But with the rest of the division virtually in shambles- I think they will finish high again this year. Another no. 2.

3. Cardinals- Sorry Redbird fans, no repeat this season. A team that had the worst record of any World Series winner in history- surprise… lost pitchers. Jeff Suppan going to the Brewers is the only one they might miss. They should not have had Jeff Weaver on the roster anyway. Mark Mulder should return mid season- if surgery recovery goes well you could throw him out there for some BP. Wainwright wasn’t fooling anyone when Pittsburgh was in town yesterday- and if the Bucs are hitting you like that it isn’t good. Isringhausen is a solid closer, but that means jack when you are behind on the scoreboard. Chris Duncan is hitting the ball well. Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, and Senor Pujols will produce as expected. If they want to finish higher than I project them to they are going to need to win a lot of high scoring games. Kip Wells already has to losses with a 2.25 era. That is sad, sorry Kip. I did hear that Kip had been chatting online with babes all day. Do you think Pujols can pitch?

4. Reds- Finishing just 3.5 games behind the first place Cards last year, they should have been more than a team two games under .500. Wait, this is the NL Central. The Reds have done pretty much zilch to the roster since last year. They picked up Mike Stanton. So what he turns 40 in June… he hasn’t given up a run so far this year. He has allowed only one hit in his five and a third innings through this afternoon. The starters are not awe inspiring- Harang, Arroyo, Saarloos. Yeah, maybe I have heard of them. Adam Dunn leads most offensive categories and will continue to. Griffey, Jr. might play in more than 100 games this year. I would still be afraid to put money on it. This team was not good enough last year, and nothing has changed.

5. Cubs- Cubs Win! Cubs Win! If the moon were made out of ribs, would ya eat it? I would! Then I’d wash it down with a tall cold Budweiser! The Cubbies welcome Sweet Lou and Alfonso Soriano to town this year with hopes of winning it all. Soriano got sweet money too- as did Aramis Ramirez to stay at Wrigley and hold down the hot corner. Carlos Zambrano is supposed to be the ace of the staff, but is not pitching like it. Rather southpaw Rich Hill is 2-0 with only one earned run through 14.0 strong innings. Ted Lilly can win a few games here and there, and Dempster is capable of being a top notch closer. If the Cubbies get Soriano comfortable in center and swinging the bat, in conjunction with the usual production from Derrek Lee (2005 numbers), and Aramis Ramirez the Cubbies have a good chance of finishing much higher than fifth. If the bullpen proves themselves and Cliff Floyd gives them a BA around the .300 mark (currently .303) the north side of Chi-town could be very pleased with Sweet Lou and the boys. I predict the Cubs somewhere between first and last in this division. A tough call.

6. Pirates- This review has been reserved for Bastard contributor and Pirate fanatic letsplaytummysticks. I could tell you what I think, or I could let you read into the Pittsburgh Pirates placement on this list of teams.
I will say the Bucs could use a few starters, a number one most notably. Z. Duke is not quite enough. LaRoche might be the Bucs savior, but I doubt it. A real closer might help things a bit. Salomon Torres has a great era, 5.14. woot. Tell them about it tummysticks. I am anxious to see what you think of your beloved Buccos.

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