Monday, February 13, 2006

Part 4: NL Central

Pitchers and catchers report in like 2 days, I am very excited. So, let’s get to it

Cubs: Pitching is the name of the game for the Northsiders. Having Prior and Zambarano coming back, look to them to be a powerful 1-2 punch. Wood will most likely remain in the pen for the 2006 season; his arm appears to be for short-term use only. Look for Juan Pierre to help the CF position. The offensive question will be Lee. Can he possibly repeat his 2005 run? He had a year were his HR, RBI's went up, while is K's went down to there lowest complete season total in his career. Like the AL Central, this division could be very competitive. The Cubies will fight for 3rd.

Brewers: My sleeper pick for this division. The loss of Overbay (started his career for the Osprey) to the AL should not concern anyone with Price Fielder, yes Cecil's son, filling first base. With Ben Sheets anchoring a rather unstable starting rotation, I still see improvements for last years .500 team. Carlos Lee should have another 30+ HR season. The Brewers are my surprise pick for first, but I am going to place them second behind the Cardinals.

Cardinals: This team remains strong after the offseason. Pitching should be the primary reason for their repeat at frist place. Carpenter might not get back to his 21 wins last season, but still a strong 18+ win performance. Ponson brings his hefty 6+ ERA to the NL for the first time, but don't be concerned. The pitcher to watch this season will be Reyes. He saw limited time last season, but he should be a 15+ winner if he is able to get put a full season under his belt. Offense, what can you say, they have Pujols. To help with Pujols productivity, Rolen will need to remain healthy.

Pirates: The Pirates will do one spot better than last season by finishing fifth. The pirates have ooddles of pitching prospects waiting to take charge. Duke was an impressive 8-2 in 14 starts last season. With the aging Mesa departing look for Mike Gonzalez to take over that roll. Look for the Pirates to be my dark horse pick in the 07 season.

Reds: I am not impressed with this team. Griffey will at some point become injured, what I call the Mariner curse. Sean Casey and his bat potential were shipped off to the Pirates. They did receive Dave Williams as compensation to anchor their rotation. Always be concerned with a team that has 4 catchers on its active roster. I predict a last place finish.

Astros: Will Clemens return? Maybe his son can convince him. The 'stros made a nice run to make it to the World Series. I don't think they will be as fortunate this season; they will be fighting with the Cubs for third/fourth. They need Pettitte to stay off the DL, and Oswalt should be in prime form again. The 'stros are another team that has a lot of potential waiting in the minors. Lidge will have another great season as the closer.

Final Standings:
Cubs (tie)
Astros (tie)

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