Results tagged ‘ National League Central ’
Alright let’s go to my second divisional preview for the ever so fastly approaching 2009 season. Here is the N.L. East Preview just in case you missed it.
- The Chicago Cubs were far and away the best hitting team in this division last year. They averaged 5.3 runs per game, that’s a half a run more than the Cardinals, who finished second in this category last year. Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano will put up more great numbers this year. The only thing is that there are a lot of injury risks in that lineup, but they are deep enough to compensate.
- The Cardinals averaged 4.8 runs per game last year, near the top of the ranks in the National League. There’s really only one thing you need to know about this offensive unit, and that’s Albert Pujols. Aside from him, they weren’t looking that great until Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel had great seasons at the plate, and now their offense looks great. Troy Glaus is going to struggle with injuries this year, but that’s not enough to shake me from naming them second in hitting in the 2009 NL Central.
- The Brew Crew had 90 wins last year, party because of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, but the offense did enough to compete with the rest of the league last year. They have a lot of young guys that are now in or entering their prime, which makes me believe that this offense could have its best season in recent memory. Prince Fielder is one of the best home run hitters in the league, Ryan Braun is just one of the best hitters in the league, and they have great role players in Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Bill Hall.
- There is a big drop off here between the Brewers and the Astros. 3 of Houston’s best hitters (Lee, Berkman, Tejada) are all over 32. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence are exciting players. Bourn can run faster than most Kenyan Olympians, and Pence just does everything well. However, I see way to much risk to say this offense is going to put up good numbers this year.
- Well the Reds gets the nod over my Pirates at the cellar of the division here. Look, the Reds are a pretty good looking team. They have a lot of young guys with big upside. Joey Votto could really break out this year, and he is the Reds best offensive threat. The Reds will definitely continue to feel the effects of losing Adam Dunn last year. Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are there to provide good bats with a good amount of power, but this lineup is lacking in a lot of aspects still.
- It kills me to do this, really, it does. However, the Pirates have the worst looking lineup in the last 5+ years, I’m not going to lie. McLouth and Doumit are great hitters, but there really is nothing behind them to get excited about. Andy LaRoche is having a nice spring and could put up good numbers this year, but he’s unproven. There are guys with good upside, like Brandon Moss and then some minor leaguers that the we could see up this year, but it’s pretty obvious we are still the worst offense in the division. Maybe next year.
- The Cubs led this division in most pitching categories last year as well, making them a very solid team. Their rotation is definitely going to take a step backwards this year, but not enough to knock them off of the top ranks. Carlos Zambrano is slowing down, Rich Harden is always injured, and you want me to believe Ryan Dempster is going to repeat last year’s numbers? I’m not buying it. However, these 3 all have the chance to be elite pitchers, and any time a team has that chance, I’ll take them. They take the top spot by a slight margin.
- I really struggled with this one, I just about took them to be first. Volquez, Harang, Cueto, Arroyo, Owings, and Bailey all have huge upside. Harang and Arroyo are proven veterans, and the other 4 are young guns with great arms. This has the chance to easily become the best staff in the Central, and even challenge to be one of the best in the majors. However, until I see Volquez and Cueto repeat their successes, I can’t put them on top quite yet.
- Well the 1-2 race was close, and so is this 3-4-5. I’m giving the Astros a slight advantage here. They have a proven ace in Roy Oswalt, who I think will have a great season. Wandy Rodriguez is set to have the best season of his career, and then there’s Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler, and Russ Ortiz. The back end is kind of weak, but definitely not terrible. Enough to earn the 3 spot.
- This Cardinals vs. Astros vs. Brewers is so tough. The reason I’m taking the Cardinals here is the resurgence of Chris Carpenter. He has looked great in spring and is really healthy. I think he could return to his former state as a dominant ace. Even if he doesn’t, they have a solid ace in Adam Wainwright, and a decent back end with Pineiro, Lohse and Wellemeyer.
- A young staff with a lot of upside. Yovani Gallardo looks like an ace. Dave Bush could be a very good pitcher. The back end doesn’t look too hot with Jeff Suppan, Braden Looper, and Manny Parra, so that’s the real reason I had them 5th here. The rotation is solid enough to team with that great offense and ead them to another good season, and probably another 2nd place finish.
- Another tragedy. The Pirates rotation is worse than their offense. This was a no brainer. The Pirates would be bottom 3 if I did this for the entire National League. Paul Maholm is the only thing that is sure in this rotation. He’s a stud. After that, there is a bunch of crap, with a little bit of upside. I’ve pretty much given up on Zach Duke, and Ian Snell is heading down that road as well. The upside comes with Ohlendorf and Karstens. Ohlendorf has been spectacular in spring, and Karstens was awesome last year with the Pirates. However, they have also both shown very bad stretches, and with the Pirates history, I’m not taking the upside to the bank quite yet. I wish I could say there is help coming from the minor leagues, but there really is not.
So here’s my final standings for the 2009 National League East:
Chicago Cubs…………………..90 – 72
Milwaukee Brewers………….. 89 – 73
Cincinnati Reds…………………80 – 82
St. Louis Cardinals…………….79 – 83
Houston Astros…………………77 – 85
Pittsburgh Pirates……………….71 – 92