2015 N.L. Central Preview

Posted: March 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

St. Louis

Ramble:  The Cards keep John Lackey and acquire Jason Hayward and Jordan Walden.  The ship continues to sail forward.

Outfield:  No surprises.  Matt Holiday in left, Jon Jay in center and Jason Heyward in right hoping to fully realize all that ability.  Pete Bourjos gets most of the fourth outfielder time.

Infield:  Matt Adams at first, Kolten Wong (looking for a productive year to secure his spot) at second, Jhonny Peralta at short and Matt Carpenter at third.  Mark Reynolds sees time at the corners.  Pete Kozma subs up the middle.

Catching:  Yadier Molina rebounds nicely from injury.  Tony Cruz backs him, but Ed Easley is waiting.

Starting Pitching.  Adam Wainwright (awesome), Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha (a load of talent) and choose between Jaime Garcia and Marco Gonzales for the last spot.

Relief:  Trevor Rosenthal provides another outstanding year closing for the Cards.  Jordan Walden, Matt Belisle, Randy Choate, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez and Sam Freeman will get most of the work leading to Rosenthal.

AAA/AA Help:  Ed Easley (c), Cody Stanley (c), Xavier Scruggs (1b), Jacob Wilson (2b) and Thomas Pham (of).

Prediction:  First in the Central.



Ramble:  Russell Martin leaves for Canada.  Yawn.

Outfield:  Maybe the best in baseball.  Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco will roam Pittsburgh for quite a while.  Jose Tabata is probably traded.  And, Pittsburgh’s two best position prospects are also outfielders.  Nice problem.

Infield:  Pedro Alvarez moves to first where he will, hopefully, commit fewer errors.  Josh Harrison takes over at third.  Jordy Mercer and Neil Walker form a serviceable duo up the middle.  Sean Rodriguez and Justin Turner receive Sunday play at second, third and short.  Andrew Lambo offers a non-leaded glove alternative at first if Pedro suffers from glove-itis.

Catching:  Francisco Cervelli attempts to take Martin’s spot.  I’m betting Tony Sanchez gets the back up spot and pushes Cervelli because Elias Diaz is probably a year away.

Starting:  Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Francisco Liriano, AJ Burnett and Vance Worley make an above average rotation, but nowhere near St. Louis.  Jeff Locke and Brandon Crumpton wait.

Relief:  Mark Melancon has another good year, but nobody notices.  Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Antonio Bastardo and Stolmy Pimentel get the bulk of the pre-Melancon innings.  However, if the Pirates are to keep Cincy and the Cubs at bay, John Holdzkom and Bobby LaFromboise must provide quality innings.

AAA/AA Help:  Keon Broxton (of) and Mel Rojas (of).

Prediction:  Participating in a season long brawl for second.



Ramble:  Signing Jon Lester for far too much money is the obvious oh-ah.  Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero and David Ross (Lester’s personal catcher) were unspectacular, solid moves.  Same goes with Chris Denorfia joining the outfield group.  Oh, yeah, the manager guy, Joe Maddon, that was a nice move, too.

Outfield:  Why some Cubs’ mavens have soured on Junior Lake is a tad puzzling, though Chris Coghlan clearly was the better player in ’14.  Dexter Fowler wins the center field job.  Jorge Soler, less a bad spring, should land in right.  The aforementioned Denorfia brings the proper attitude sorely needed.

Infield:  Anthony Rizzo slowly improves.  If Mike Olt doesn’t make a quick start, Kris Bryant takes over at third.  Starlin Castro is inconsistent at short (and the plate).  The light hitting Javier Baez hoovers under the same light as Mike Olt, for Arismendy Alcantara wants to play everyday.  Tommy La Stella gets more work than he imagined as Mr. Utility.

Catching:  Miguel Montero vastly improves this position for Cubs faithful.  David Ross catches Lester and nobody else (maybe Felix Doubront).  Rafael Lopez does most of the real late-inning catching to give Montero a breather.

Starting Pitching:  Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Travis Wood form a first-three good enough to concern the Pirates.  Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront (last chance to pitch in the bigs) battle for the last two spots.  If Hendricks and Jokisch pitch to expectation, the Cubs may surprise many.

Relief:  Hector Rondon improves as the closer.  Pedro Strop, Neil Ramirez, Blake Parker, Drake Britton, Zac Rosscup, Jason Motte and Brian Schlitter form a much improved bullpen.

AAA/AA Help:  Andrew McKirahan (relief).

Prediction:  The above referenced brawl.  If Pittsburgh’s bullpen blows up, the Cubs take second.  Otherwise the tantalizing close third.



Ramble:  Marlon Byrd joins the outfield.  Nice, but not enough

Outfield:  Byrd, the blazing fast Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce.  Not bad.  Skip Schumaker and Kristopher Negron take most of the late innings.

Infield:  Joey Votto (may health return or the Reds are in immediate trouble) at first, the fun to watch Brandon Phillips at second, Todd Frazier at third and Zack Cozart (overrated) at short.  As to Sunday guys, the Reds have prospects, but none seem to make the list of consideration.

Catching:  Devin Mesoraco (he can hit) and Brayan Pena.

Starting Pitching:  Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey are an above average trio.  If Tony Cingrani meets expectations, this is a deep rotation, if not, a tad thin.  Anthony DeSciafani and Dylan Axelrod tussle for the last spot.

Relief:  The flame thrower, Aroldis Chapman, in the ninth.  Burke Badenhop and  Pedro Villarreal offer quality help.  Then relief personnel becomes ineffective.  Choose from Sean Marshal, Manny Para, JJ Hoover, Sam LeCure and you get the idea.

AAA/AA Help:  Neftali Soto (3b), Seth Mejias-Brean (3b) and Kyle Waldrop (of.  The best offensive player in their system).

Prediction:  Shy of Bruce, Votto, Frazier and Mesoraco combining for 110+ home runs, the Reds struggle and settle into fourth place.



Ramble:  Here’s hoping.

Outfield:  Khris Davis in left, Carlos Gomez in center with Ryan “Telling the Truth is Hard” Braun in right.  Gerardo Parra should gather a few at bats, as well.

Infield:  Adam Lind at first (not a good sign), Scooter Gennett and Jean Segura handle the middle with youth and promise while Aramis Ramirez handles third until Jason Rogers shows he’s ready to assume the hot corner.  If Lind struggles early, look for Matt Clark to get a chance to stick in the bigs.

Catching:  Jonathan Lucroy (a fine catcher) and Martin Maldonado attempt to make the best of a pedestrian group of starters.

Starting Pitching:  Kyle Lohse followed by a shoulder shrug of Matt Garza, Wiley Peralta, Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson (the Brewers number one starting prospect).  If this group struggles, gonna be a long year in Milwaukee.

Relief:  Frankie Rodriguez returns as the closer (Thank goodness.  Otherwise this group goes from below average to awful).  Jonathan Broxton handles the eighth.  Rob Wooten, Will Smith, Neal Cotts, Jim Henderson, Tyler Thornburg and Brandon Kintzler are arbitrarily selected due to a lack of past performance from current contestants.

AAA/AA Help: Tyler Cravy (starter).  The Brewers rated second to last in my player development ratings (only in front of the substantially worse Phillies).

Prediction:  Dead last in the Central.




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