Once upon a time, I was going to write an in-depth season preview for every team in baseball, I couldn’t, and I didn’t, sorry I failed you all, maybe next year. With that being said, I am prepared to not let my partner in crime down, and will be posting by NL predictions, right about……. meow.
N.L. baseball is better than A.L. baseball. Pitchers hitting is hilarious. Bunts suck, and the DH sucks harder.
I’ll start with the division I feel like I’m the least familiar with, and that’s the N.L. Central
Chicago Cubs – LOL
I seriously considered just leaving that description, however, I did write a million words about the Astros at one point, so I can’t. Starlin Castro is good, so is Anthony Rizzo, and Darwin Barney is a wizard at second base. Jeff Samardzija is a sexy pick to explode (in a good way) this year. This team doesn’t have much more, Edwin Jackson has been traded numerous times for players who turned out to be better than him. Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz are names of people who might do well in starting roles, and they might not. They just need to convince the Yankees that they need that albatross contract that belongs to Soriano.
Cincinnati Reds – I always misspell Cincinnati
This team is the cream of the crop when it comes to this division. Cueto and Latos make a real strong 1/2 punch, and the rest of the rotation is filled out with prospects who aren’t what they were supposed to be, but not horrible either. In the bullpen, Sam LeCure sometimes has high quality facial hair, Jonathon Broxton is the largest human being in the continental United States, and Aroldis Chapman is terrifying. They’re making a mistake if they choose to put him into the rotation. The lineup is very good. Joey Votto is an absolute monster, and Jay Bruce might take a step forward and have a monster year. He profiles as the prototypical right fielder. Big power, bigger arm, low batting average. The acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo is going to be huge for them. The MLB depth chart has him in Center, which might be a bit of an experience, because he profiles a right fielder. The fact that they play in the Great American Crackerjack Box might limit the necessity of having a rangy center fielder. They have a guy in the minors named Billy Hamilton who might already be ready for the majors. The interesting thing about him, he stole 165 bases across three different levels. Brandon Phillips is really good, and his bat is in pristine condition, because he left in Cincinnati when he played in the WBC.
Milwaukee Brewers – Ryan Braun is a cheater, and Prince Fielder was fat
This team has some pieces that will make them dangerous, on a game to game basis, but they’ll fall short over the course of the season. Yovani Gallardo has the potential to be a monster, and Marco Estrada is a serviceable starter. Milwaukee was the team that made the mistake of overpaying for Kyle Lohse, and when his BABIP regresses, they should be happy if the get a sub 4 ERA out of him. John Axford at the back of the bullpen is fun, and he has a nasty fu man chu. Ryan Braun was guilty, and he got out on a loophole #AmericanDream, but even without the juice (supposedly), he’s a really good baseball player. The kind of guy who can carry a team. Johnathon Lucroy is another guy to look for, he’s a catcher who can hit, which is a nice thing to have. Sometimes, Rickie Weeks is sometimes good at baseball, and some months he is really bad. Aramis Ramirez is old but still hitting. The shortstop Jean Segura was the biggest name that came over from LAA in the Greinke deal. Matt Gamel might be an interesting and decent professional baseball player, but apparently, his right ACL retired two years ago.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Allegheny
The Allegheny river runs right behind the Pirates ballpark, its really neat. The Pirates haven’t had a winning record since 1992. Last year they should have had a winning record, but they collapsed at the end. They won’t be hopeless this year, and they’ll actually have a chance at being above 500 again this year, but I’m not willing to step out on a limb for them, so I’ll assume they wont. A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and James McDonald make the top of the rotation decent. McDonald was really good at the beginning of the year, but fell off. Grilli is decent at the back of the pen, but there aren’t a whole lot of high impact guys. McCutchen in center field is a perennial all-star, and Garret Jones at first base has some real sock. Starling Marte is their top offensive prospect, and he’ll be manning left field. Travis Snider was supposed to be the truth in Toronto, but he’s now playing in Pittsburgh, so we know how that worked out. Russel Martin is their catcher, he’s french canadian, and he used to be a dodger and a yankee, therefore, I hate him.
St Louis Cardinals – Always competitive
It’s hard to say anything bad about this team, they’re always competitive and always sticking around the top of their division, and the top of the wild card race. They’re solid from top to bottom, when that homegrown Pujols fella left, it was supposed to decimate the organization. Now they’re just a team that’s above average in every aspect of the game. Wainwright is a potential ace at the top, and Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia both play the role of 2/3’s. Shelby Miller will be getting a shot at the rotation, and he’s got TOR potential. That brings up maybe the key strength of the Cardinals, they have the number 1 ranked farm system in baseball. They stay at the top of the division by growing their own talent, and spending wisely on veterans. Jason Motte is one of the best closers in baseball, but he’s currently injured, but that’s ok, because every guy in that pen throws at least 95. Yadi Molina is the best defensive catcher in baseball, and in the past couple of years, his bat has come along greatly. Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Matt Adams, Carlos Beltran all hit. They all just hit, and hit and hit and hit some more. David Freese wasn’t the second coming of Christ like he was anointed during the World Series against Texas, because he can’t find the field. If he can stay healthy, it’s another potential nasty bat to a steady order.
The NL West is near and Dear to my heart, and there should be a three team race all year.
San Diego Padres- Every pitcher is dead, and rebuilding takes a long time.
The Padres traded away their talent, for younger talent, before the original talent was able to walk away and take their talent to whoever would pay the most for said talent. This is the story of when talent stopped being nice, and started being real. San Diego is a pitcher’s heaven, so obviously their pitching will be their strength. I’m looking at their depth chart, and I think their worst reliever, is the guy that they have closing games, but that doesn’t matter, because he’ll get hurt. It’s not just a Huston Street thing, everyone on that team is hurt always. They have three potential starters on the 60 day DL before the season even begins (Kelly/Luebke/Weiland). Two of them fellers came over in the aforementioned talent walking to Boston (Adrian Gonzalez) trade. Yonder Alonso is some young talent received for Mat Latos, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype. Carlos Quentin used to play in Arizona, now he plays for some team for two weeks, than takes a month off on the DL. Chase Headley is really good, he’s also on the DL. Cameron Maybin has the potential to be good, but he also has the potential to be hit by an airplane. There’s a trend with this doomed team. The only way they can break the curse, is if they take Heath Bell back… please.
Colorado Rockies – Tulo-Windowwwww Tulo-Walllll
This team can hit, it’s Colorado, so they don’t really have a choice. The pitching is supposed to be bad, and last year, they turned it into a circus by temporarily implementing a 4-man rotation….. Tracy may have felt his hand was forced by injuries, but, San Diego never went to a 4-man rotation, and we learned about the padres legacy last year. Fun fact, all of the starters firs names start with the letter “J”, that’s as much as I want to talk about them. Nicasio/Chacin/De La Rosa all have potential, but all struggle too much with injuries and inconsistency. Rafael Betancourt is the closer, and he talks about 45 minutes between pitches, trade him to NYY or BOS, and let the love affair begin. I personally like watching Rex Brothers out of the pen, he’s a lefty with a huge fastball and good off speed stuff as well. Tulowitzki is an elite shortstop who hits like none other, but he’s recovering from injury. Dexter Fowler is scary in centerfield and as a leadoff man, he can fly, and his power is still developing. Carlos Gonzalez was traded in packages for Dan Haren, and Matt Holliday, and he’s currently the best player out of the lot. (No offense to Brett Anderson, who is fantastic, but usually hurt). Todd Helton just got back from playing himself in that miniseries “The Bible”, so whatever, and Josh Rutledge won the Giants the world series last year. (No seriously, he OPS’d 775 in Tulo’s absence. They decided to make their second baseman expendable, and traded Marco freaking Scutaro to the Giants. World Series).
Los Angeles Dodgers – I hate you
First of all, I hate LA, and don’t want to write about them, but I think it’s all coming down, and their going to burn, so this should be fun. LA is doing all the can to become Yankees West, and screw them for it. Screw their fans for showing up for 4 innings, and screw them for Manny still being their favorite Dodger. Screw them for having a gluttony of starting pitching, and not trading from a position of strength. (Why not sell as high as possible on Harang and Capuano?). Screw them for having Clayton Kershaw, because I love watching him pitch, but I hate his stupid uniform. Seriously, Kershaw is going to be the first pitcher to make 200M, and I’d take him over any starter in baseball right now. Grienke can be really good, but I think the bright lights of LA aren’t going to help a guy with social anxiety disorder. Josh Beckett is far to busy investing in KFC, and I refuse to drink the Ryu Kool Aid. I still remember Kei Igawa, and Daisuke Matsuazaka, not buying. My friend is a huge M’s fan, so I should rejoice in the fact that Brandon League (who looks like Rufio from Hook) is their closer. I can’t figure out why the don’t give Kenley Jansen the ball in the ninth, because that guy is straight scary. Matt Kemp is very good. Andre Ethier is pretty good, but very overpaid. Carl Crawford is extremely overpaid, and I expect to see him in rehab starts down in Albuquerque this year. Hanley Ramirez is already hurt, and a jerk. Adrian Gonzalez will rake this year, he’s a dark horse for the MVP. Luis Cruz refuses to field bunts. Nothing in A.J. Ellis minor league history suggests he’s the guy he was last year. In closing, screw the Dodgers.
Arizona Diamondbacks – <3
This is my favorite team, but they made me sad this winter. I was a huge fan of Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer both, but their both gone, so it’s not time to reflect on that right now. Arizona has a very strong rotation, it looks like they have 4 guys who profiles as 2/3’s and the fifth spot is open for Corbin/Skaggs/Delgado to reach their potential and take it. Ian Kennedy was ace like two years ago, but regressed pretty hard last year. I think he’s a 2, and I think Cahill is as well. I see McCarthy and Miley both as threes, and Huddy as a 2/3 when he comes back from being broken. The bullpen is very good. Putz was lights out last year, and David Hernandez is one of my favorite relievers to watch. I really wish they’d hand the ninth inning over to him, but that doesn’t look like that’s happening yet. The blemish in the pen is the acquisition of Heath Bell. Arizona actually gave things up, and took on some of his salary to take that large man. I don’t get it, but Kevin Towers knows bullpens. The lineup doesn’t have a true superstar in it, but it doesn’t give away outs either, (with the exception of maybe Cliff Pennington). Miguel Montero is a top five catcher in baseball, and Paul Goldschmidt might be a beast. Kubel is a typical bat heavy glove light outfielder, and Martin Prado is a guy whom I’m supposed to love, we’ll see. Maybe Kevin Towers is a genius, maybe he’s not. I’m hoping for the former, but expecting the latter.
San Francisco Giants – Champs
I don’t get these guys. They’re solid in every aspect of the word, but they just seem to flourish on the big stage. They just have all the right pieces come together at the perfect times. I’m not impressed by their lineup, but until someone proves otherwise, they’re still the champs. Cain and Bumgarner are a phenomenal 1/2 punch at the top of the rotation, but the rest has a lot of question marks. Barry Zito traded whatever was left of his soul to throw well in the playoffs, Tim Lincecum seems to have transformed overnight, and I just don’t trust Ryan Vogelsong. The bullpen is always a strength, and will continue to be as long as they keep handing the ball to Romo in the ninth. That frisbee slider aint no joke. The lineup is anchored by Buster Posey, who is amazing. I don’t much care for him or the way his owner mollycoddles him, but his stroke is pure, and he’s a great hitter. I want to criticize giving a catcher that much money for that long, because I expect Posey to be at first in about 4/5 years a la Joe Mauer. Some digging show’s me that Posey’s WRC+ is above Prince Fielders, so I guess First base is ok too. They have Brandon Belt at first base, and for the love of God, please let him get 500 AB’s there this year. Quit jerking the kid around and throwing him in LF, and let him play. His nickname is the “baby giraffe”, Hunter Pence is actually a giraffe, on roller skates, so that’s fun to watch. Pablo Sandoval is a panda in human flesh. He hits everything and it makes me mad. If the LHC ever stops, but Sandoval and Broxton in a sumo match in the middle, it will have the same effect.
NL East – This division is sexy, and East Coast Bias
Miami Marlins – Jeffrey Loria is a criminal
It’s hard to write about this team, because Jeffrey Loria. The dude basically stole money for a new stadium, and then sent out all of the players he had planned to fill that stadium with. #FreeGiancarlo There really isn’t much to say about this team. Kevin Slowey is the number two starter on the depth chart, and he used to be a twin. Steve Cishek as the closer is very very good. This team has Jon Rauch, and Chad Qualls in the pen, and I hate both of those guys, so… neat. Juan Pierre has an everyday job in Miami, and it’s actually playing baseball. Giancarlo Stanton is really good, and very strong, and hits the ball very far. He deserves better than this. Also, they have stupid ugly statue.
New York Mets – Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets, Step Right Up and Beat the Mets!
The New York Mets are not apart of the bourgeoisie in the NL West, they’ll be better than Florida, but they’re missing a lot. They just lost Johan Santana (again), and the picked up Shaun Marcum, who is an interesting arm, but he’s already on the DL. Johnathon Niese was pretty good last year, and Matt Harvey will be fun to watch. They sold the reigning Cy Young winner to Toronto, but they’ve shown foresight in maximizing return for their vets. The aforementioned return (Zack Wheeler), could be pitching in the big apple sooner, rather than later. Bobby Parnell is a strong arm at the back of the pen. The did lock up David Wright, so he’ll continue to rake there probably until he retires. Ike Davis hit 300 in his initial call up, but then hit 227 in 500 AB’s last year…. and he’s one of the highlights. Colin Cowgill is going to get a chance to be an everyday outfielder, and he’s got surprising pop in his bat for a fellow of his stature, I’ll be cheering for him. Also, this website is pretty cool http://mymetsjournal.blogspot.com/
Philadelphia Phillies – Have a catch with Chase Utley!
This team is the buffer team in the division, they won’t be as woeful as the marlins and mets, but Atlanta and Washington are just too powerful for them to hang on. There was a time, very recently, that Philadelphia had R2C2, and were going to be the pitching juggernaut of the world. Cole Hamels is still around, and still good, Cliff Lee, is still good, but had a poor W/L last year, so he has to be doing something wrong (not hitting enough HR’s in his starts?), Roy Oswalt is gone, and Roy Halladay is seriously scaring Philly fans right now. Papelbon is extremely overpaid, but threw well last year, and I’m a big big Mike Adams guy. So the back of the bullpen will be a strength. The infield is old, and injury prone, but all have pedigrees in hitting. Michael Young, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard are all very likely to be hurt throughout the year, but they’ve established themselves as hitters. The outfield is the exact opposite, Dominic Brown and John Mayberry had some hype surrounding them, but haven’t lived up to it. Ben Revere replaces Shane Victorino (who I believe is overrated, and overpaid), so good for them for improving their team there. He’s not a high power guy, but he’ll play a good CF, and stole 40 bases in Minnesota last year. (That’s where Vance Worley went).
Atlanta Braves – Strikeouts for days.
This team is going to be very good. Not too long ago, people were raving about the plethora of arms coming through the pipeline. Delgado is gone, Beachy is hurt, Medlen has been hurt, and Teheran has battled ineffectiveness at AAA. If some of these guys start pitching near capability, that rotation will be scary. The bullpen is already nasty, with Kimbrell (maybe the best closer in baseball) at the end of it. They’ve lost Venters to injury, which is a shame, but they still have O’Flaherty who is nails. An interesting name in the pen is Jordan Walden, who had some immediate success closing for the Angels, but really struggled afterwards, and ended up here in Atlanta. The lineup is scary. This is probably the most athletic outfield in baseball, with the brothers Upton, and the J-Hey Kid. Throw in the improving bat of Freddie Freeman, the improving Andrelton Simmons, the random power of Dan Uggla, and the eventual return of injury from Brian McCann, and the lineup is godly. Their downfall is the strikeout, there will be a lot of runners to strand, and a lot of runners stranded. I read that the magic number for k’s is 1200 as a team, and I can see that happening quite feasibly. But the prospect of having three 20/20 guys in the outfield is to die for. 90/60 is even possible, and I expect the younger Upton to have a monster year.
Washington Nationals – Ain’t your daddy’s Expos
This is the cream of the crop in the NL. All thoughts aside, I’d be ok if they never won a world series. I hated the benching of Strasburg last year, and the baseball gods have a funny way of working that stuff out. This team is loaded. I can’t find a flaw. The starting pitching is gaudy, Strasburg is an ace, Gio Gonzalez threw like a 1/2 hybrid, Zimmerman is a 2, Detweiller is probably a 4/5, and if they get anything resembling the Dan Haren of old, forget it. The bullpen was already nasty with Clippard and Storen at the back end, so what do they do? They add one of the better closers in the game Rafael Soriano. The team has bats all over the field. What makes this team so appealing for me, is that they don’t sacrifice defense for hitting. With Harper/Span/Werth in the outfield, you have three guys who could play CF, but are all positioned to their strengths. Werth is overpaid, but still a pretty good ballplayer, and Harper is going to be a monster this year. Span will be on creating havoc on the base paths ahead of these guys. Adam LaRoche is a good defensive first baseman, whose good for 20 bombs and 90 RBI. Ryan Zimmerman may be the second coming of Brooks Robinson at third base, and they have three guys up the middle, in Desmond/Espinosa/Lombardozzi who could all be starting elsewhere. Oh year, the catcher, Wilson Ramos, he’s freaking good as well. This team will do everything well, and their set up to where a couple of injuries won’t blow this team up.
Final Division standings from first to last
Cental: Reds, Cards, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
West: Giants, D-backs, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres
East: Nats, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins
Atlanta over St Louis in the WC Game
Washington over Cinci, and Atlanta over SF
Washington Over Atlanta
Detroit over Washington in The Worrrrrrld Series
MVP is Justin Upton (Spite), Adrian Gonzalez 2nd
Cy Young is Clayton KKKKKKKKKKKershaw, with Samardzija 2nd