Tag:Brewers
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:51 pm
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NL Central Preview

This is a division that has lost a lot of talent with the Free Agent departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. While both their former teams should be competitive in 2012, this has left both teams weakend and an opportunity for the Reds to claim their 2nd division title in 3 years. So lets jump right in and break down the weakened NL Central!

1. CINCINNATI REDS

 C- Devin Mesoraco/Ryan Hannigan
1B- Joey Votto
2B- Brandon Phillips
SS- Zack Cozart
3B- Scott Rolen/Todd Frazier
LF- Ryan Ludwick/Chris Heisey
CF- Drew Stubbs
RF- Jay Bruce

Pitching-

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Matt Latos
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Mike Leake
5. Homer Bailey/Jeff Francis
6. Aroldis Chapman

CL- Ryan Madson
SU- Sean Marshall
SU- Nick Masset

The Reds had a very good off-season, realizing that their window of opportunity is now. They bolstered their rotation with the additions of Matt Latos and Jeff Francis. They also fortefied their bullpen with the addition of former Phillies closer Ryan Madson and former Cubs set-up man Sean Marshall. The offense is led by a trio of stars in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce with some nice complementary players in Drew Stubbs, Devin Mesoraco and recently acquired LF; Ryan Ludwick. There are question marks at third and short but they still have a top tier offense. I think the Reds are a solid playoff team but I still think they have too many holes to win a world series (but anything can happen in baseball).   

2. ST. LOUIS Cardinals

C- Yadier Molina
1B- Lance Berkman
2B- Daniel Descalso
SS- Rafael Furcal
3B- David Freese
LF- Matt Holliday
CF- Jon Jay
RF- Carlos Beltran

Pitching-

1. Chris Carpenter
2. Adam Wainwright
3. Jamie Garcia
4. Kyle Lohse
5. Jake Westbrook

CL- Jason Motte
SU- Fernando Salas
SU- Mitchell Boggs

The loss of Albert Pujols is devestating and the retiring of LaRussa is going to hurt as well, but I still think the Cardinals can be a competitive team in 2012.This could be the year of David Freese and they still have a solid core with Berkman, Holliday, Molina and Beltran. The key will be how Adam Wainwright's return goes as he could push the Cardinals into contention with the Reds. I still think in the end it will be tough for the Cardinals to win the division as they have taken too many losses in the offseason and the Reds have gotten exponentially better.

3. MILWAUKEE Brewers

C- Jonathan Lucroy
1B- Mat Gamel
2B- Rickie Weeks
SS- Alex Gonzalez
3B- Aramis Ramirez
LF- Norichika Aoki/Ryan Braun
CF- Njer Morgan/Carlos Gomez
RF- Corey Hart

Pitching-

1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Grienke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

CL- John Axford
SU- Francisco Rodriguez
SU- Kameron Loe

Losing Prince Fielder and 50 games of Ryan Braun is HUGE! With Braun I might have still picked them to win the division as they have the best top of the rotation in the division. With the hit to the offense even with the additions of Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki and a potential breakout season from Mat Gamel I dont think they can realistically win the division. The staff IS stacked and expect an even better season from Greinke as the stats show he was much better than his ERA indicated. The Brewers are still a very dangerous team that could sneak into contention as many people are counting them out. 

4. CHICAGO CUBS

C- Geovany Soto
1B- Bryan LaHair/Anthony Rizzo
2B- Darwin Barney
SS- Starlin Castro
3B- Ian Stewart
LF- Alfonso Soriano
CF- Marlon Byrd
RF- David DeJesus

Pitching-

1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Travis Wood
5. Chris Volstad/Randy Wells

CL- Carlos Marmol
SU- Kerry Wood
SU- Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs are going through a complete rebuild and although you can never completely rule out a team they really have no chance to win the division (this coming from a Cubs Fan). The offense is going to be rough as they lack a true middle of the order hitter. The rotation is vastly improved from 2011 as they actual have a surplus of starters now, and while they might not all be top arms there is some upside for guys like Travis Wood and Chris Volstad. The Cubs may not be in the playoff hunt but they should be as good if not a little better than in 2011 and pretty exciting to watch.

5. PITTSBURGH Pirates

C- Rod Barajas 
1B- Garrett Jones
2B- Neil Walker
SS- Clint Barmes
3B- Pedro Alvarez/Casey McGehee
LF- Alex Presley
CF- Andrew McCutchen
RF- Jose Tabata

Pitching-

1. Charlie Morton
2. Erik Bedard
3. A.J. Burnett
4. James McDonald
5. Jeff Karstens/Kevin Correia

CL- Joel Hanrahan
SU- Evan Meek
SU- Jason Grilli

The Pirates were the suprise first half team last season and at one point was winning the division. Eventually they collapsed due to their youth and a plethora of injuries but they got Pittsburgh excited about baseball again. The offense should be better this season with an upgrade at short and a couple of potential bounce back seasons. The rotation is also better with the addition of A.J. Burnett to eat some innings and Erik Bedard to get in some good starts. I still think the bullpen was very fluky last season and will regress but still the Pirates are no longer the worst team in baseball. I see a couple win improvement from last year and they could beat out the Cubs for fourth place. 

6. HOUSTON Astros

C- Jason Castro
1B- Carlos Lee/Brett Wallace
2B- Jose Altuve 
SS- Jed Lowrie/Angel Sanchez
3B- Jimmy Paredes
LF- J.D. Martinez
CF- Jordan Schafer/Jason Bourgeois
RF- Brian Boguesevic

Pitching-

1. Wandy Rodriguez
2. Brett Myers
3. Bud Norris
4. Livan Hernandez
5. Jordan Lyles/J.A. Happ

CL- Brandon Lyon
SU- Wilton Lopez
SU- Fernando Rodriguez

There should be no argument that the Astros are the worst team in the division and possibly in the National League. Luckily this is their last season in the NL Central before their jump to the AL West. The offense is full of names that few people outside of diehard baseball fans know and the bullpen looks rough. I actually think their rotation is pretty solid (Im a big fan of Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles) but I dont think its enough to carry them out of the division cellar. 


All in all the NL Central is weak in comparison to previous years but it always seems that when the division looks weak they produce a team that goes to the world series. This was a tough call for this spot between the NL Central and the AL West but I think the extra teams help put the NL Central above but not for long.
  

Posted on: August 5, 2011 7:57 pm
 

NL Central Trade Deadline Analysis

Two days ago I posted my NL East Trade Deadline Analysis, as I took a look at how the teams in that division either got better or worse. Today we will take a look at the NL Central. There is technically a four team race for the NL Central crown but i feel we can realistically count out the Pirates and Reds as the Reds have been far too inconsistent and the Pirates are starting to putter out. 3 of those for teams made somewhat important moves and one sat quietly. The Cubs and the Astros are looking to rebuild but only one team has committed to a full rebuilding project. So let’s dive right in and analyze these deadline moves by the NL Central.

  Pittsburgh- Acquired 1B- Derrek Lee from Baltimore for 1B- Aaron Baker

                - Acquired OF- Ryan Ludwick from San Diego for A Player to be Named Later

 The Pirates are a fringe contender in the NL Central, they obviously realized this and made moves that improve the club without giving up top prospects. Neither player is going to push the Pirates to the post season but they still may be able to keep them over .500 for the first time in 18 years. Both players will likely only play on the Pirates for this season as they will be free agents next season, but the moves show to the players that Management believes in them. All in all these moves are more for PR rather than actually improving the club, as they are only marginal upgrades but are solid veterans who can boost morale.

  Chicago Cubs- Acquired OF- Abner Abreu and P- Carlton Smith from Cleveland for OF- Kosuke Fukudome

  I am a fan of Abner Abreu, and Carlton Smith may be a bullpen contributor in the near future so this is not a bad deal for the Cubs. Fukudome has never lived up to the hype that he received when he signed in 2008, his defense has eroded the past 2 seasons and his offensive numbers have probably been the worst of his career in 2011 so I am amazed the Cubs were able to get anybody interesting. The main complaint about the Cubs deadline is that they didn’t dump more of their overpaid under producing players and commit to a rebuild. Abner Abreu is an intriguing outfielder who has pop and speed with a strong arm in the outfield but lacks plate discipline, so he could be a hit or a miss type player. Carlton Smith is a very average reliever but has made it to AAA so an appearance at the Major League level either this year or next is not out of the question.

  Houston- Acquired P-Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF- Jonathan Singleton, P- Josh Zied from Philadelphia for OF- Hunter Pence

              -Acquired OF- Jordan Schafer, P- Brett Oberholtzer, P- Paul Clemens, P- Juan Abreu from Atlanta for OF- Michael Bourn

  Houston replenished their farm system by dealing their two best hitters, but many believe the Astros should have held out for more talented players. Cozart immediately becomes the Astros top pitching prospect, he is still a while away from the big leagues but he is above average to good in almost all aspects of his game. Singleton is another young player that is at the low level minors but has tremendous upside. He will hit for good average and power and has good plate discipline, and he instantly becomes the Astros top hitting prospect in my mind. Josh Zeid is a mediocre pitching prospect who is at the AA level but has struggled this year, if he makes the big leagues he will likely be a middle reliever. The return for Michael Bourn was a lot less exciting, especially if you look at the prospects Atlanta has. Jordan Schafer is the replacement for Bourn in center and he could be a serviceable one. He has great speed with some power, but lacks the ability to make consistent contact. He is still young and has room to improve so Schafer still has the potential to be a star but more likely he will be a solid major league starter. Brett Oberholtzer is a solid lefty pitching prospect with good command and good homerun suppression ability, just not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he will get his fair share. I am actually a fan of Oberholtzer and I think that he could be a solid middle of the rotation guy down the road. Paul Clemens is another decent prospect, but while his numbers look ok AA this year I’m just not a huge fan. He has decent strikeout ability but not as good of command as Oberholtzer or as good of a homerun suppression rate. He could be a back of the rotation starter or reliever down the road. Juan Abreu is one of those middle relievers who has great strikeout ability but lacks good command to be a starter. He has played well at AAA in 2011 so I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays an important role in the Astros 2012 bullpen. Overall they Astros have gotten some nice prospects but they should have been able to get better ones for the players they gave up.

 St. Louis- Acquired P- Edwin Jackson, OF- Corey Patterson, P- Marc Rzepcynski, P- Octavio Dotel from Chicago White Sox and Toronto     for OF- Colby Rasmus, P- Trever Miller, P- Brian Tallet, P- P.J. Walters

               Acquired SS- Rafael Furcal from Los Angeles Dodgers for OF- Alex Castellanos

 I think the Cardinals made the most surprising moves near the deadline. I had heard rumors that Rasmus was going to get shipped out of St. Louis but then they were always quickly denied. The Cardinals gave up on a very talented CF but acquired a well traveled but effective starter who should help them make a post-season push. The rest of the players are pretty good as well, Corey Patterson can still be a solid 4th outfielder and Rzepcynski and Dotel should both be solid middle relievers for the Cardnials. I was not crazy about the Rafael Furcal trade, he really has been bad this year, but the benefit is having another veteran starter for the stretch run i guess. The problem is his bat has been abysmal, he is injury prone and he is only playing average defense at best this year. All in all the Cardinals did make a big splash bringing in (can i call him a journey man at 27?) Edwin Jackson along with some smaller pieces and it should be a close battle for the NL Central crown.

 Cincinnati- Acquired OF- Bill Rhinehart and P- Chris Manno from the Nationals for OF- Jonny Gomes

 This trade really has no impact on the season or down the road besides the fact the Reds were smart enough to get rid of Gomes. Rhinehart seems like he will be a Quad A type player or at best a 4<sup>th</sup> outfield type. Manno is a young reliever sitting at High A who has good strikeout ability but is mediocre besides that. He is too young right now for me to make a prediction of what he might do at the majors because he could still not make it. Surprisingly the Reds got something for Gomes but again this trade really does nothing for the Reds.

 

Overall Summary- If you noticed I did not include the Francisco Rodriguez trade because it did not happen as close to the deadline. The Cardinals and Astros made the biggest moves of the deadline, but for very different reasons and the Pirates made 2 smaller moves. The Cubs and Reds did the least and both needed to do more. Overall I think the Cardinals are the winners of the Central at the deadline but I’m not sure they have enough to beat the Brewers for the division.


Posted on: November 19, 2010 12:41 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 8:04 pm
 

MLB Offseason Preview (NL Central)

After last posts NL East preview we move to the NL Central. It is pretty well known that this is the division i know the best and i know the teams involved very well. But no matter how well you know a division you can never correctly perdict every move the teams in a division will make. As i said in my previous posts these are the moves that i think are the most likely to happen and also moves that i think teams should make.

Chicago Cubs-

The Cubs added on to their dissapointing 2009 season by putting up an even worse 2010 season. The Cubs had managed to build the worst team with the biggest budget which makes me even more proud to be a Cubs fan. Luckily all of the Cubs bad contracts are begining to come off the books, losing Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly's big salaries should loosen up the Cubs wallets. But i would not recommend they spend big this offseason, although Adam Dunn is available and they are in need of a first baseman i think they should hold off. The problem with acquiring Adam Dunn is that it is a typical Cubs move, it may help us be competitve next year but in the end the contract will hold us down. The only way i would fill first base with a big name player this offseason is if they can find a way to acquire Adrain Gonzalez via trade. It would cost a lot of players but the Cubs have been improving their farm system and may have the prospects to get him now. I dont need to explain the impact Adrian Gonzalez would have on this team. If they cant bring in Gonzalez I would recommend siging Adam LaRoche, he would significantly cheaper than Dunn and would provide the left handed power bat the Cubs crave. He consistently puts up a .280-25-90 with quality defense and would allow the Cubs to have money to spend in other areas or allow them to hold on to their money so they can spend big next season. They also need to begin to plan how they will fill the hole at third when Aramis leaves next season. I woldnt be suprised to see A-Ram dealt either this offseason or at the deadline. The only other major area of need is releif pitching that im sure they will waste their money on.

Cincinnati Reds -

The Reds are not a team that needs a lot of work, they have a nice affordable core of players that have room to improve. They are set at all the major position players but their biggest need is starting pitching. If you know anything about post-season baseball you know that you need a dominant ace at the top of your staff to succeed. Look at the Giants (Lincecum), Rangers (Cliff Lee). Phillies (H20), Yankees (CC Sabathia). This is really the piece the Reds are missing, the only way they can address this is if they trade for Zack Grienke. Now of course thier is the problem that the Royals want the farm for him but i think the Reds have the prospects to matchup. They would likely have to give up Travis Wood, Yonder Alonso, Mike Leake and another big prospect to get him but it would be worth it.Now i know there will be people who disagree with  First of all Grienke played for one of the worst defenses from a UZR standpoint they didnt make a ton of errors but their players lacked the range to make the plays for him. If you brought Grienke into the national league with one of the best defenses in the league he could put up numbers similar to his CY Young winning season of 2009(with more wins). The other benifit of Grienke is that he is in/near his prime and should be able to put up similarly productive numbers for the next few seasons. I have also heard the Reds have interest in Marco Scutaro as the Red Sox have put him on the market. They could fill a hole at short stop or they could attempt to have Paul Janish play a full season, although im not sure his bat will play well in a full season. But besides adding an ace the Reds only need to make a few tweaks here and there.

Houston Astros-

The Astros finally realized that it was time to go into a rebuilding faze this past season by dealing former stars such as Lance Berkamn and Roy Oswalt. They did get some nice pieces in return but they are far from contention, they will need to draft better and acquire better prospects if they want to compete with the rest of the division. I do like the move they just made by acquiring Clint Barmes for Felipe Paulino straight up. While his offense may regress from leaving Coors field he should still provide more than the rotation of Angel Sanchez and Tommy Manzella. He also plays good defense according to his UZR. There are still some significant holes around the infield, I do like Chris Johnson at third but im not sure how he projects long term (Is he the next Casey McGhee?). They can do better than Jeff Keppinger at second and I doubt that Brett Wallace is the answer at first. Jason Castro didnt show much at the big league level last season but they should give him some time. Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn are fine in the outfield but Carlos Lee is definitly hurting them both offensivly and defensively. The pitching staff could use some help as well with Brett Myers playing the ace followed by middle of the rotation guys in Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ and Bud Norris. While they did make some moves that will help the club in the long run the Astros are maintaining the level they have been at for years where they are not horrible but they wont make it over .500 either. I still think they need to scrap the whole team and start from scratch dealing Pence, Myers, Bourn and Lee (although the later may be though).

Milwaukee Brewers-

They definitly have the offensive pieces to compete but they are extremely lacking in the pitching department. Their main off-season goal will be to beaf up that pitching staff behind Gallardo and Wolf. Earlier in the offseason it seemed they were willing to part with Prince Fielder but it seems less likely now. I have heard rumors that Casey McGhee could be moved for pitching which would also open the door for Matt Gamel to start for a full season. I wouldnt be suprised if some Corey Hart rumors pop up either as they did at the trade deadline last year. Im not sure who they would match up with for pitching but they desperatly need some. They dont want to waste their offensive players prime years when they have no pitching. If Milwaukee had any money i would think they would go after some starters but im not sure they have a ton to spend. But besides thier lack of pitching this is a very strong roster that should be able to get them to the post-season if they can prevent runs from scoring.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are on the rise although their record may not reflect that. They have developed a nucleus of very good offensive players that should score plenty of runs. But like the Brewers they lack the pitching to be competitve. Their best pitching prospect James Tailon wont be ready for a while, but they are attempting to be aggresive through the free agent market. I wouldnt be suprised to see Jorge De La Rosa and Jeff Francis in Pittsburgh as the new Manager Clint Hurdle is familiar with both players. This season i think they want to attempt to be respectable while continuing to improve so they wont hand out any massive contracts. I am very excited to see Pedro Alvarez for a full season as he showed off his tremendous talent at the end of last season. He could be a .260-30-100 player this year with a good top of the order hitters in McCutchen and Tabata. They could use some improvement at short stop, left field, and first base but every other position looks solid for next year. They will probably sign some small contracts and make some small trades to fill holes at those positions and if they add some pitching they could be a 70 win team.

St. Louis Cardinals-

They were unable to keep up with the Reds last season but they did play a fairly good season. The back end of their rotation didnt perform to expectations and their middle infield struggled. They addressed the pitching by re-signing Jake Westbrook but they could still use some additional pitching. They have a solid offensive core in Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus and with the return of David Freese from injury they could be even better this coming up season. They will most likely bring in someone to back up Frees in case he is hurt again or he struggles, this player may start up the middle but be versatile enough to play the hot corner. I have heard Miguel Tejada is being considered along with some other SS/2B to improve upon Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumakers production. But outside of those few moves the major offseason goal for the Cardinals should be giving Pujols his contract extension which is almost guranteed he will agree to. The Cardinals and the Reds look to be in the best shape of the teams in this division and have the fewest moves to make.


Posted on: August 20, 2010 1:16 pm
 

Best Teams NL Central

Earlier in the week a started a series of posts that were going to cover each team in baseballs best players in the modern era (which i consider 1950+). I analyzed the Cubs then began working on the other teams, i decided it would be much more effiecent if i posted the teams by division and compare to see which would fare the best. I will post each teams lineup and #1 starter with their WAR and FLD numbers next to them.

Cubs
1. Ryne Sandberg-2B-  4.2 WAR  4 FLD
2. Mark Grace-1B-        3.5 WAR  5.1 FLD
3. Billy Williams-OF-     5.2 WAR  -3 FLD
4. Sammy Sosa-OF-     4.9 WAR  6.6 FLD
5. Ron Santo-3B-         5.7 WAR  1.9 FLD
6. Ernie Banks-SS-       3.9 WAR  2.8 FLD
7. Andre Dawson-OF-   3.0 WAR  -.5 FLD
8. Jody Davis-C-          2.4 WAR  4.5 FLD

#1 Starter- Fergie Jenkins

Cardinals
1. Lou Brock-OF-         3.2 WAR  -3.1 FLD
2. Ozzie Smith-SS-      4.7 WAR  15.1 FLD
3. Albert Pujols-1B-      7.8 WAR  6.3 FLD
4. Stan Musial-OF-       6.3 WAR  2.4 FLD
5. Jim Edmonds-OF-    5.5 WAR  4.4 FLD
6. Ken Boyer-3B-         5.2 WAR  6.8 FLD
7. Ted Simmons-C-     4.1 WAR  -1 FLD
8. Red Shoendienst-2B- 2.5 WAR  5 FLD

#1 Starter- Bob Gibson

Astros
1. Craig Biggio-2B-      3.5 WAR  -3.3 FLD
2. Cesar Cedeno-OF-   4.3 WAR  .5 FLD
3. Lance Berkman-OF- 4.7 WAR  .3 FLD
4. Jeff Bagwell-1B-       5.6 WAR  3.9 FLD
5. Jose Cruz-OF-          3.8 WAR  6.5 FLD
6. Doug Radar-3B-       3.4 WAR  -1 FLD
7. Dickie Thorn-SS-      2.1 WAR  4.3 FLD
8. Brad Ausmus-C-         .5 WAR  -1 FLD

#1 Starter- Roy Oswalt

Reds
1. Joe Morgan-2B-        7.6 WAR  .75 FLD
2. Pete Rose-3B-          4.6 WAR  -4 FLD
3. Frank Robinson-OF-   6.6 WAR  5 FLD
4. Johnny Bench-C-       4.8 WAR  4.2 FLD
5. George Foster-OF-     4.3 WAR  4.8 FLD
6. Tony Perez-1B-          3.2 WAR  .4 FLD
7. Vada Pinson-OF-        4.5 WAR  0FLD
8. Barry Larkin-SS-         3.7 WAR  1.5 FLD

#1 Starter- Jim Maloney

Brewers
1. Paul Molitor-3B-         4.1 WAR  .7 FLD
2. Robin Yount-SS-        3.7 WAR  -2.3 FLD
3. Cecil Cooper-1B-        3.1 WAR  .7 FLD
4. Jeromy Burnitz-OF-     3.7 WAR  4.2 FLD
5. Geoff Jenkins-OF-      2.8 WAR  6.5 FLD
6. Ben Oglive-OF-          2.7 WAR  .1 FLD
7. B.J. Surhoff-C-           1.9 WAR  2.8 FLD
8. Jim Gantner-2B-         1.4 WAR  2 FLD

#1 Starter- Teddy Higuera

Pirates
1. Roberto Clemente-OF-  5.1 WAR  11.3 FLD
2. Jason Kendall-C-          3.8 WAR  -1.8 FLD
3. Barry Bonds-OF-           7.1 WAR  18.4 FLD
4. Willie Stargel-OF-         3.4 WAR  -3.5 FLD
5. Donn Clendenon-1B-    2.6 WAR  -.2 FLD
6. Richie Hebner-3B-        3.5 WAR  -5.4 FLD
7. Jay Bell-SS-                 3.1 WAR  .7 FLD
8. Bill Mazeroski-2B-         2.3 WAR  8.6 FLD

#1 Starter- Bob Friend

Team WAR + FLD

Cubs- 32.8 WAR  21.4 FLD
Cardinals- 39.3 WAR  35.9 FLD
Astros- 27.9 WAR  10.2 FLD
Reds- 39.3 WAR  12.7 FLD
Brewers- 23.4 WAR  14.7 FLD
Pirates- 30.9 WAR  28.1 FLD

I think it is obvious that the Cardinals have the best team of the bunch and are lead by the best pitcher of the bunch as well. Cincinnati is probably the second best team on this list because their team WAR is tied for first with the Cardinals but their defense is 2nd to last and Jim Maloney dosnt rate up as highly as Bob Friend or Fergie Jenkins. The Cubs and Pirates are probably tied for 3rd, while the Cubs have a better WAR the Pirates have a better FLD, although Fergie may have the edge over Friend. The Astros are 5th and the Brewers are officaly the worst team of the buch. I got the WAR and FLD stats from Fangraphs.com which is an excellent site if your a stats junkie like me. I created the lineups by going to Baseball-Reference.com and anaylizing who i thought were the best at each position, obviously not everyone is going to agree with me on my stats. Also a side not i just picked the top 3 outfielders i did not pick the best at each particular position this time. If you have any comments please post them i love reading them and give me feedback please. I plan on doing the AL Central next.
         
Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:45 pm
 

My Official NL Central Preview

Its been a while since my last post ( I believe it was about the Cubs signing Xavier Nady) but that dosnt mean i havnt been working diligently on this post. I have been analyizing these numbers for weeks and looking at lots of projections. So here is a look at my 2010 Official NL Central Preview.

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates


Lets take a deeper look at all 6 teams, because even though most analysts believe the Cards will run away with it im not convinced. Anyone in the top 4 spots could legitamitly when this division.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Departed (notable players)- Rick Akiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson
Aquired- Rich Hill, Brad Penny

The Cards were a mediocre team at the start of the 2009 season, but a midseason trade for Matt Holliday changed everything. Now the Cardnials have ascended to the upper echelon of NL teams with the likes of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their rotation is headlined by 2 terrific Aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Recently aquired Brad Penny will look to fill Joel Pineiro's shoes and become another one of Dave Duncans reclamation projects. Outside of those 3 the rotation has a lot of questions, wil Kyle Lohse bounce back, and who will be the fifth starter. The Infield is pretty solid with Albert Pujols anchoring it at first. There can be no argument that Pujols is the best player in the majors right now. Skip Schumaker ande Brendan Ryan make up the middle infield, both are farily good contact hitters, but they dont blow you away considering the other talent in the division. The biggest question mark for the Cards infield is David Freese, it looks like they are going to give him a shot, hopefully he can perform better than Colby Rasmus did last year. The outfield is definatly one of the Cardinals strong points with Matt Holliday the anchor there. Holliday, like Pujols is one of the premier players in the league forming one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the National League. Coby Rasmus will man center field, although his rookie season wasnt great he still provides good defense (according to UZR stats) and is developing offensivly. And in right field Ryan Ludwick will continue to mash, he may not be as good as he was 2 seasons ago he is good at protecting Holliday and Pujols. Overall the Cardinals are a very balanced team, they arnt very deep so if they sustain some injuries things could go downhill. But as of right now statisticly speaking they should win this division.

2. Chicago Cubs

Departed- Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts
Aquired- Marlon Byrd, Jeff Gray, Bryan LaHair, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva

The Cubs were supposed to win this division last season, but due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, down years for star players, and the chaos that Milton Bradley created they came in second. Although there have been some changes, this team is very similar to the one that had the best record in the NL in 08. The rotation is headlined by underachieving Ace Carlos Zambrano (Im not sure i can even call him an ace anymore), Ted Lilly (Although he will be out for the first month), and Ryan Dempster. Randy Wells should be the #4 starter and the #5 spot is open to several pitchers although Tom Gorzelanny is the favorite. Zambrano has struggled the past few seasons due to his immaturity and injuries. But he has apparently slimmed down and is much more focused so look for a bounce back season from him. The Bullpen while not great has some interesting peices that could make it a good unit. Marmol is the big question mark, how will he be able to handle the pressure of being the full time closer. He looked good at the end of last season, but he is wild and when he dosnt have his command he is useless. John Grabow, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Gray, Carlos Silva, and Esmailin Caridad make up the rest of their projected bullpen. The infield is a strength with 09's top Cubs performer Derrek Lee at first, and the always consistent Aramis Ramirez at 3rd (when healthy). The middle infield is mediocre but servicable, with The Riot at short, and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot at 2B. Although in the near future a shift to 2b for Theriot looks likely as his defense is better there and Starlin Castro is on his way. The Cubs are really hoping that 08' Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto returns to form. The outfiled is improved but not great with the dissapointing and often injured Alfonso Soriano in LF. Marlon Byrd came from Texas to play CF and should provide solid but unspectacular numbers. And Kosuke Fukudome playing solid defense in RF and probably platooning with Xavier Nady. If former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can get the Cubs hitters to return they should be real close to the Cardinals and a mid season trade for a star could push them into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Departed- Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, Jason Kendall, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera, Felipe Lopez, Braden Looper
Aquired- Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf, Greg Zaun, Carlos Gomez

The Brewers have the best offense in the division by far. But their pitching may be the worst which is what has held them back. They have aquired some talent to help bolster that with the additions of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, but neither are star pitchers that can carry a team on their shoulders. They are innings eaters, Yovani Gallardo is the teams ace, but he is vey young and having to carry a team on your shoulders at a young age is tough. Their pitching will be better than in 08' but not enough to overcome the Cubs or Cardinals. The Pen is also improved with the additon of LaTroy Hawkins they now have a solid setup man who can help Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman is getting up their in years and Hawkins has dissapointed before so dont count on them. The pitching still isnt thier but they have enough offensive peices that they could trade for a pitcher midseason. The Infield is held together by one of the best firstbaseman in the league in Prince Fielder. He is a big bopper who can hit for good contact, and Casey McGhee was solid at 3rd last year. The middle infield is talented with the youngster Alcides Escobar at short and Ricke Weeks, but Escobar only has 125 AB of major league expierence and Weeks is coming off a big injury. The Outfield is solid with Ryan Braun in LF, he may be one of the best LF in all of baseball. Corey Hart is a solid RF, and Carlos Gomez will replace Cameron in CF. Greg Zaun is an upgrade at Catcher from the ancient Jason Kendall. This is a solid team that should be in the division race and should finish over .500 but i think they need a young arm to step up or they need to trade for one. If they do that then i think they have a legitimate shot at the division title.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Departed- Willy Taveras, Adam Rosales
Aquired- Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson

The Reds seem on the verge of becoming a very good team, but i am still a litte sceptical thats why i put them this low. They very well could be a spot or two up but there are a lot of variables for that to happen. Plus the Reds always seem to look decent on paper but not be able to put it together. The rotation is decent, Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and was great in the second half last season. Harrang has not been the same since he pitched in relief in 08' and continues to put up abismal statistics despite a decent ERA. Johnny Cueto looks like he could be a star and Homer Bailey finally started to put it all together last September. Both of them will need to have good seasons for the Reds to be competitve. The #5 spot may be filled by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, but he is a young lefty and sometimes those guys take a while to reach their potential. He is their biggest future prospect as he has been compared to Randy Johnson. Francisco Cordero has been a solid closer although the Reds are looking to dump his salary since it makes up a significant portion of their limited payroll. Even without him, the Reds have one of the better bullpens in baseball. The Infield is a strong point for the Reds with a really good 1B in Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen at the corners. Up the middle former gold glover and steady veteran Orlando Cabrera is at short, and perenial All-Star Brandon Phillips is at 2B. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan play solidly at Catcher. The Outfield has some questions, will former top prospect Jay Bruce bounce back from a dissapointing sophmore season? Is rookie Drew Stubbs the answer in CF? Will Chris Dickerson start in LF? They have some good players with good potential and they will have to live up to it if they want to compete for the divison. This could be a very good team, and as i said before they have a ton of potential but potential doesnt win the divison. This is a team that will have to grow up this season, but this is a team on the rise and will be good for some time.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Departed- Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Robinson Diaz
Aquired- Neal Cotts, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Javier Lopez

This is my bold prediction for 2010, the Pirates will not finish in the division cellar. I think the Pirates are on the rise, although they are no where near being competitive i think they are a team that can win 70-75 games. But this perdictions doesnt necesserily reflect on the Pirates being that much better, but that the Astros are worse. The Pirates rotation is nothing to brag about but there are some interesting arms there. Paul Maholm is their top pitcher although he has been dissapointing, Zach Duke is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but he could get traded. Ross Ohlendorf suprised some people, but im not sold on his performance. The back of the rotation is likely going to consist of Charlie Morton who was effective in Atlanta, Kevin Hart who came over from Chicago in the Grabow, Gorzelanny deal. The bullpen has been put together out of unwanted pieces from other teams. They could be succesful, but it is hard to predict relief pitchers. Octavio should be the closer, although i think the eventual goal is for Joel Hanrahan to close. The infield doesnt have any stars but some solid pieces, Garrett Jones will probably play first, he burst onto the scene last season and the Pirates are hoping for a repeat performance. Andy LaRoche is playing 3rd although he is nothing more than a place holder for the Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez. Recently aquired Akinori Iwamura will man 2nd, and Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will battle for the starting shortstop gig. While they are nothing special they have a lot of depth at the positions and some farm help on the way. The outfield has the most potential, former top prospect Lastings Millidge will play in LF and he played well after coming over from Washington. If he can play to the potential that he was said to have the Pirates will have a solid LF. Andrew McCutchen will look to improve upon his outstanding rookie season and play CF for the full season. Ryan Church will most likely start in RF, while he may not put up great numbers he is a solid player. The Pirates also have some depth here with Brandon Moss, and former top prospect Steve Pearce. This team may lack superstars (although one is on the way, and McCutchen may become one) they have more overall talent than the Astros do.

6. Houston Astros

Departed- LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail (Retired), Chris Coste
Aquired- Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom

The Astros have really gone down hill since that 2005 world series appearance. They used to be one of the best teams in the National League, but i think poor managment has put them in a position to fall out of the competition for some time. They have not clearly defined their direction, wether they are rebuilding or contending. Their recent aquisitions have not convinced me that they are improving. The rotation is relying on the return of the dominant Roy Oswalt, he did not look very good last season (I know cause he was on my fantasy baseball team). They discovered they have a solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez and they are hoping Brett Myers can give them a solid #3 starter. But after that there is a significant dropoff, Brian Moehler will probably start along with youngster Bud Norris, neither of them impress me and there is not any help after them. The bullpen is somewhat restructered, replacing LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Aparently they want Lindstrom to close, he has been great in the past and has a great fastball but he will have to bounce back from an awfull season. Brandon Lyon is about equal to LaTroy Hawkins in my eyes, maybe a bit worse. The infield has some nice pieces, with the consistent Lance Berkman (although he had a down year last year), Pedro Feliz is at the other corner, he plays solid defense but dosnt offer much in offense anymore. Kaz Matsui will play 2nd and youngster Tommy Manzella will likely start at short. Manzella dosnt really project to contribut much and Matsui is very average. The outfield is the Astros strength with another consistent player in Carlos Lee in LF. Michael Bourne leads off and plays CF, but outside of steals he is very average (Most believe his 09' BA is a mirage and he will hit more in the .250-.260 range). Hunter Pence is another solid outfielder in RF, he will put up a solid .280-25-90 stat line. The Astros dont have a ton of depth so injuries will be a killer. They could finish ahead of the Pirates but that is their ceiling in 10'. Sorry Astros fans but i dont see them getting better anytime soon, they need to get that farm system going if they want to get better.



Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:45 pm
 

My Official NL Central Preview

Its been a while since my last post ( I believe it was about the Cubs signing Xavier Nady) but that dosnt mean i havnt been working diligently on this post. I have been analyizing these numbers for weeks and looking at lots of projections. So here is a look at my 2010 Official NL Central Preview.

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates


Lets take a deeper look at all 6 teams, because even though most analysts believe the Cards will run away with it im not convinced. Anyone in the top 4 spots could legitamitly when this division.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Departed (notable players)- Rick Akiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson
Aquired- Rich Hill, Brad Penny

The Cards were a mediocre team at the start of the 2009 season, but a midseason trade for Matt Holliday changed everything. Now the Cardnials have ascended to the upper echelon of NL teams with the likes of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their rotation is headlined by 2 terrific Aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Recently aquired Brad Penny will look to fill Joel Pineiro's shoes and become another one of Dave Duncans reclamation projects. Outside of those 3 the rotation has a lot of questions, wil Kyle Lohse bounce back, and who will be the fifth starter. The Infield is pretty solid with Albert Pujols anchoring it at first. There can be no argument that Pujols is the best player in the majors right now. Skip Schumaker ande Brendan Ryan make up the middle infield, both are farily good contact hitters, but they dont blow you away considering the other talent in the division. The biggest question mark for the Cards infield is David Freese, it looks like they are going to give him a shot, hopefully he can perform better than Colby Rasmus did last year. The outfield is definatly one of the Cardinals strong points with Matt Holliday the anchor there. Holliday, like Pujols is one of the premier players in the league forming one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the National League. Coby Rasmus will man center field, although his rookie season wasnt great he still provides good defense (according to UZR stats) and is developing offensivly. And in right field Ryan Ludwick will continue to mash, he may not be as good as he was 2 seasons ago he is good at protecting Holliday and Pujols. Overall the Cardinals are a very balanced team, they arnt very deep so if they sustain some injuries things could go downhill. But as of right now statisticly speaking they should win this division.

2. Chicago Cubs

Departed- Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts
Aquired- Marlon Byrd, Jeff Gray, Bryan LaHair, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva

The Cubs were supposed to win this division last season, but due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, down years for star players, and the chaos that Milton Bradley created they came in second. Although there have been some changes, this team is very similar to the one that had the best record in the NL in 08. The rotation is headlined by underachieving Ace Carlos Zambrano (Im not sure i can even call him an ace anymore), Ted Lilly (Although he will be out for the first month), and Ryan Dempster. Randy Wells should be the #4 starter and the #5 spot is open to several pitchers although Tom Gorzelanny is the favorite. Zambrano has struggled the past few seasons due to his immaturity and injuries. But he has apparently slimmed down and is much more focused so look for a bounce back season from him. The Bullpen while not great has some interesting peices that could make it a good unit. Marmol is the big question mark, how will he be able to handle the pressure of being the full time closer. He looked good at the end of last season, but he is wild and when he dosnt have his command he is useless. John Grabow, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Gray, Carlos Silva, and Esmailin Caridad make up the rest of their projected bullpen. The infield is a strength with 09's top Cubs performer Derrek Lee at first, and the always consistent Aramis Ramirez at 3rd (when healthy). The middle infield is mediocre but servicable, with The Riot at short, and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot at 2B. Although in the near future a shift to 2b for Theriot looks likely as his defense is better there and Starlin Castro is on his way. The Cubs are really hoping that 08' Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto returns to form. The outfiled is improved but not great with the dissapointing and often injured Alfonso Soriano in LF. Marlon Byrd came from Texas to play CF and should provide solid but unspectacular numbers. And Kosuke Fukudome playing solid defense in RF and probably platooning with Xavier Nady. If former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can get the Cubs hitters to return they should be real close to the Cardinals and a mid season trade for a star could push them into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Departed- Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, Jason Kendall, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera, Felipe Lopez, Braden Looper
Aquired- Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf, Greg Zaun, Carlos Gomez

The Brewers have the best offense in the division by far. But their pitching may be the worst which is what has held them back. They have aquired some talent to help bolster that with the additions of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, but neither are star pitchers that can carry a team on their shoulders. They are innings eaters, Yovani Gallardo is the teams ace, but he is vey young and having to carry a team on your shoulders at a young age is tough. Their pitching will be better than in 08' but not enough to overcome the Cubs or Cardinals. The Pen is also improved with the additon of LaTroy Hawkins they now have a solid setup man who can help Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman is getting up their in years and Hawkins has dissapointed before so dont count on them. The pitching still isnt thier but they have enough offensive peices that they could trade for a pitcher midseason. The Infield is held together by one of the best firstbaseman in the league in Prince Fielder. He is a big bopper who can hit for good contact, and Casey McGhee was solid at 3rd last year. The middle infield is talented with the youngster Alcides Escobar at short and Ricke Weeks, but Escobar only has 125 AB of major league expierence and Weeks is coming off a big injury. The Outfield is solid with Ryan Braun in LF, he may be one of the best LF in all of baseball. Corey Hart is a solid RF, and Carlos Gomez will replace Cameron in CF. Greg Zaun is an upgrade at Catcher from the ancient Jason Kendall. This is a solid team that should be in the division race and should finish over .500 but i think they need a young arm to step up or they need to trade for one. If they do that then i think they have a legitimate shot at the division title.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Departed- Willy Taveras, Adam Rosales
Aquired- Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson

The Reds seem on the verge of becoming a very good team, but i am still a litte sceptical thats why i put them this low. They very well could be a spot or two up but there are a lot of variables for that to happen. Plus the Reds always seem to look decent on paper but not be able to put it together. The rotation is decent, Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and was great in the second half last season. Harrang has not been the same since he pitched in relief in 08' and continues to put up abismal statistics despite a decent ERA. Johnny Cueto looks like he could be a star and Homer Bailey finally started to put it all together last September. Both of them will need to have good seasons for the Reds to be competitve. The #5 spot may be filled by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, but he is a young lefty and sometimes those guys take a while to reach their potential. He is their biggest future prospect as he has been compared to Randy Johnson. Francisco Cordero has been a solid closer although the Reds are looking to dump his salary since it makes up a significant portion of their limited payroll. Even without him, the Reds have one of the better bullpens in baseball. The Infield is a strong point for the Reds with a really good 1B in Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen at the corners. Up the middle former gold glover and steady veteran Orlando Cabrera is at short, and perenial All-Star Brandon Phillips is at 2B. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan play solidly at Catcher. The Outfield has some questions, will former top prospect Jay Bruce bounce back from a dissapointing sophmore season? Is rookie Drew Stubbs the answer in CF? Will Chris Dickerson start in LF? They have some good players with good potential and they will have to live up to it if they want to compete for the divison. This could be a very good team, and as i said before they have a ton of potential but potential doesnt win the divison. This is a team that will have to grow up this season, but this is a team on the rise and will be good for some time.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Departed- Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Robinson Diaz
Aquired- Neal Cotts, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Javier Lopez

This is my bold prediction for 2010, the Pirates will not finish in the division cellar. I think the Pirates are on the rise, although they are no where near being competitive i think they are a team that can win 70-75 games. But this perdictions doesnt necesserily reflect on the Pirates being that much better, but that the Astros are worse. The Pirates rotation is nothing to brag about but there are some interesting arms there. Paul Maholm is their top pitcher although he has been dissapointing, Zach Duke is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but he could get traded. Ross Ohlendorf suprised some people, but im not sold on his performance. The back of the rotation is likely going to consist of Charlie Morton who was effective in Atlanta, Kevin Hart who came over from Chicago in the Grabow, Gorzelanny deal. The bullpen has been put together out of unwanted pieces from other teams. They could be succesful, but it is hard to predict relief pitchers. Octavio should be the closer, although i think the eventual goal is for Joel Hanrahan to close. The infield doesnt have any stars but some solid pieces, Garrett Jones will probably play first, he burst onto the scene last season and the Pirates are hoping for a repeat performance. Andy LaRoche is playing 3rd although he is nothing more than a place holder for the Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez. Recently aquired Akinori Iwamura will man 2nd, and Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will battle for the starting shortstop gig. While they are nothing special they have a lot of depth at the positions and some farm help on the way. The outfield has the most potential, former top prospect Lastings Millidge will play in LF and he played well after coming over from Washington. If he can play to the potential that he was said to have the Pirates will have a solid LF. Andrew McCutchen will look to improve upon his outstanding rookie season and play CF for the full season. Ryan Church will most likely start in RF, while he may not put up great numbers he is a solid player. The Pirates also have some depth here with Brandon Moss, and former top prospect Steve Pearce. This team may lack superstars (although one is on the way, and McCutchen may become one) they have more overall talent than the Astros do.

6. Houston Astros

Departed- LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail (Retired), Chris Coste
Aquired- Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom

The Astros have really gone down hill since that 2005 world series appearance. They used to be one of the best teams in the National League, but i think poor managment has put them in a position to fall out of the competition for some time. They have not clearly defined their direction, wether they are rebuilding or contending. Their recent aquisitions have not convinced me that they are improving. The rotation is relying on the return of the dominant Roy Oswalt, he did not look very good last season (I know cause he was on my fantasy baseball team). They discovered they have a solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez and they are hoping Brett Myers can give them a solid #3 starter. But after that there is a significant dropoff, Brian Moehler will probably start along with youngster Bud Norris, neither of them impress me and there is not any help after them. The bullpen is somewhat restructered, replacing LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Aparently they want Lindstrom to close, he has been great in the past and has a great fastball but he will have to bounce back from an awfull season. Brandon Lyon is about equal to LaTroy Hawkins in my eyes, maybe a bit worse. The infield has some nice pieces, with the consistent Lance Berkman (although he had a down year last year), Pedro Feliz is at the other corner, he plays solid defense but dosnt offer much in offense anymore. Kaz Matsui will play 2nd and youngster Tommy Manzella will likely start at short. Manzella dosnt really project to contribut much and Matsui is very average. The outfield is the Astros strength with another consistent player in Carlos Lee in LF. Michael Bourne leads off and plays CF, but outside of steals he is very average (Most believe his 09' BA is a mirage and he will hit more in the .250-.260 range). Hunter Pence is another solid outfielder in RF, he will put up a solid .280-25-90 stat line. The Astros dont have a ton of depth so injuries will be a killer. They could finish ahead of the Pirates but that is their ceiling in 10'. Sorry Astros fans but i dont see them getting better anytime soon, they need to get that farm system going if they want to get better.



Posted on: January 18, 2010 12:27 pm
 

The Perfect Small Market Team- Infield

I while ago i started up a series of posts on creating the perfect small market team. But do to the Winter Meetings, and NFL Playoffs i got sidetracked and have not had a chance to continue working on it. So last night after i suffered through the 34-3 thrashing of the Cowboys i decided i needed to take my mind off of football and work on this project. My goal was to assemble a full 40 man roster with only $70 mill to spend using the players 2009 salaries, so lets start with the infield.

C- Brian McCann - He is arguably one of the top catchers in the game, he gives you consitent production from a position that it is tyically hard to find at. But he is also fairly inexpensive ($3.7 mill in 09). With his production, cost and age (26) he seems to be the best fit for this team.

1B- Joey Votto- He provides a great batting average, solid power and RBI production and cost near the league minimum ($437,500). He is young (26) and still has a lot of potential but I'll take his current production.

2B- Dustin Pedroia- He plays good defense, hits for solid average, decent power, decent speed, and is a ferocious competitor. He is fairly inexpensive ($1.75 mill). He is an all around solid player and is still young (26). He will give us solid play up the middle.

SS- Alcides Escobar- He may not have played a full season yet, but he's young (23), he can hit for a decent average, has good speed, and some power potential. He could be a good leadoff hitter, and he will only make the league minimum.

3B- Ryan Zimmerman- One of the top prospects has finally reached his potential, he is a franchise player in the making who will hit .300-30-100 and play good defense. He is only 25 so he has huge upside, and is a very reasonable price ($3.325 mill).


The infield defense should be good with a gold glover in Pedroia, and good defenders in Votto, and Zimmerman. Escobar and Pedroia form a good leadoff combo and should score plenty of runs, and Votto, Zimmerman, and McCann make up the heart of the order. And these 5 guys will cost less than 1/7 of the teams salary.
Posted on: January 9, 2010 1:41 pm
 

A look at the NL Central

About a week ago i started putting together some stats and began working on my MLB Preview. I wont post that on here until March, but i thought i would give you a look at what i think the NL Central is going to look like based on the moves made thus far in the offseason. Lets talk about the big moves that have been made first. Lets start with the Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals-

Right now i would have to say that they are in the best shape to win the division this season. They have probably the 2 best hitters in the division and 2 aces at the top of their rotation. They signed Matt Holliday to a mega deal that will be paying him through 2029, and that will keep him in St. Louis for the next 7 years. The problem i have with that deal ( And everyone else who analyizes baseball) is that between what Holliday is getting, and what Pujols will get is going to eat half of their payroll for the next 7 years. I dont see how they will be able to re-sign their younger stars, or aquire other players to build around the franchise players. Plus their farm system is not very deep, so yes they will have the 2 best players in the division but outside of those two the teams that the Cardinals will fielding for the next 7 years may not be as deep as the others. Also i think this will hurt them in the post-season. Depth is the key in the post-season, because if you only have 2 guys who can hit what happens if they go cold in the playoffs, then you dont have any hitting. Anyways i just think that in the long term this hurts them. But right now they should have a fairly easy ride to the post season.

Chicago Cubs-

They go rid of Milton Bradley, and they signed Marlon Byrd to play center. I liked those 2 moves for a couple of reasons. First getting rid of Bradley may seem like a waste of money. But he really destroyed the team chemistry, which was the key to their success in 07, and 08. Plus he was an average outfielder at best, and an injury risk. Now what we got in return may not be that much (Some cash and Carlos Silva), but its only a short term problem. Carlos Silva may actualy be some what decent in Chicago. He is sinker ball pitcher, which they tend to succedd in Wrigley, and he has pitched better in the National League in his career. Most likely he will be a long reliever with the potential to be the #5 starter, but the Cubs have better options there. With Marlon Byrd the Cubs get a club house leader, an average defender and a solid #5 hitter (or so Jaramillo says). The part i like the best about this move is that it will move Fukudome back into RF where he plays exeptional defense. The Cubs have made several other small moves (Tradng Jake Fox and Aaron Miles for Jeff Gray and prospects, and aquiring Bryan LaHair). But they are mostly counting on former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to get their hitters to rebound from a sub par season in 09. The Cubs in my opinion are in a minor rebuilding faze, they are trying to develop their minor league talent, which had been desimated by trades earlier in the decade. If they can get the minors producing some solid major league talent they may let some of their older players go. But right now the Cubs are still contendors for the division.

Millwaukee Brewers-

They traded JJ Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez, signed Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and Gregg Zaun. The Brewers problem is not offense, but they have lacked pitching depth for years. Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf are going to have to carry this pitching staff. They really need another starter or 2, the bullpen is okay with Hoffman still closing games out and Hawikins should be a decent set up guy. But their pitching ranks near the bottom of the division in talent. But they have probably the best offense in the division. WIth sluggers Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in the middle of the order, and youngster Alcides Escobar should make an impact as the leadoff hitter and short stop of the future. The Brewers are a well balanced team on offense but their pitching (as always) may hold them back from making the playoffs.

Cincinnati Reds-

They havent really made any big moves besides extending Scott Rolen for 3 years. I really didnt understand that move. For a small market team to go ahead and committ to a 35 year old, injury prone third baseman. Rolen is a good defender and can still hit for average, but his power is a shadow of its former self. Outside of a couple of veterans this is a very young team. Their young talent will have to step up if they want to have any shot at contending this year. Joey Votto has already proved that he is rock solid at first and should put up great numbers as the #3 hitter. Jay Bruce needs to hit for better contact, but he has goobs of talent, and Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson look primed to man the other outfield spots. Brandon Phillips has been a mainstain at second posting 20-20 numbers consistently in his career in Cincinnati. The pitching staff also has some promise with young stars in Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey (altough they Bailey was dissapointing until late last season). They also have to veteran pitchers, Homer Bailey who has been very effective since his arival to cincinnati, and Aaron Harrang who has struggled that past 2 seasons. The rotation needs some work, but the bullpen has been solid and Fransico Cordero has been great as thier closer. The Reds have a lot of prospects on the way also. Maybe those prospects can be turned into trades to help improve this club. The Reds may be able to compete but i still think they are a few years away.

Pittsburgh Pirates-

Earlier in the offseason they aquired Akinori Iwamura to man second, they signed Javier Lopez for the pen, but those moves have been the most interesting. The Pirates have been rebuilding for years, but i really feel that they are moving in the right direction. They have a great up and coming Center Fielder in Andrew McCutchen, a great prospect at third in Pedro Alvarez (probably wont come up until mid-season). They have some interestin starters, Charlie Morton, Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, and Paul Maholm. They have an interestin closer prospect in Joel Hanrahan and a break out outfielder in Garrett Jones. Really this is a team that will slowly get better as the prospects arrive. Until then they have no chance at the playoffs although i think they are about as good as the Astros are right now.

Houston Astros-

They aquired closer Matt Lindstrom and reliever Brandon Lyon, and signed starter Brett Myers. They have 2-3 proven starters, and one interesting prospect. Their bullpen may be alright with Lindstrom and Lyon. And their offense still has some stars in Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. But they are in a slow decline, they have almost no prospects that should have any impact on the major league level outside of catching prospect Jason Castro. Their rotation is old and in decline, and outside of Bourn and Pence so is thier offense. They Astros may be the next team in the central that sits in the cellar for a while.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com