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NL Central: Break up the Bucs!
I'm not ready to say that the Pittsburgh Pirates will be crowned 2007 NL Central champs six months from now. Not quite yet, anyway. I'll say this, though: Nowhere else in baseball is it as wide open as the NL Central, where even the Sanjaya Malakars of the division have a legit shot at first place. That is especially true if the Astros continue to roll out Brad Lidge -— eminently hittable for over two years now -— in save situations (the right-hander threw 26 pitches in his blown save against Pittsburgh on Opening Day and the Pirates swung and missed just five times and if Chris Carpenter, who's averaged 215 innings a season since returning from multiple shoulder surgeries in 2004, is indeed DL-bound (the Cards ace will miss at least one start because of elbow stiffness.
While the Astros and Cardinals, the giants of the NL Central over the last few years, both fell to 0-2 last night with losses to the Pirates and Mets, respectively, the Brewers -— my preseason pick to win the division -— improved to 2-0 thanks to two guys GM Doug Melvin netted in return for free agent-to-be Carlos Lee last July.
After posting a .500 record for the first time since 1992 in 2005, the Brew Crew took a step back last season, finishing fourth, but I agree with the NL exec I recently talked to who thinks the Brew Crew could own the division this year -— and beyond. "I like Carpenter as much as the next guy but when he's healthy Ben Sheets is the best pitcher in the league," said the exec. "If he makes 30 starts, he's going to win a Cy Young and [the Brewers] will be the team to beat in the Central. And you know what? It could be the first of many first-place finishes. With Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and now Ryan Braun on the way, they have a pretty impressive young infield that could be the best out there in a few years."
When the Brewers go for the sweep against the Dodgers tonight, Milwaukee will get its first look at $42 million free-agent acquisition Jeff Suppan, who last year had a 5.36 ERA away from the new Busch Stadium and in his Brewer debut faces his hometown team.
Labels: NL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
You hardly touched on the team that's going to win the division this season...Cincinnati.
You're right, though. Pittsburgh's going to be much tougher than anyone's giving them credit for right now.
That thing Sickles said was meant as a april fools joke.
I think that the brewers will be better than most people think, because we have a strong bullpen, and a good lineup. Dont be suprised to see this team in October.
The Lives of Others was indeed quite a brilliant film.
It would be really cool if the Brewers, Pirates, and Reds could finish in the upper half of the division while the Cubs, Cardinals, and Astros all sink to the bottom. It would be a really nice change for the game of baseball. Especially for those long suffering fan bases in smaller-market America. Look for the Brewers to take the NL Central now that Ben Sheets is healthy.
The Cubs will own this division.
Although I live in Milwaukee, I find it hard to imagine the Brewers winning the Wild Card, let alone the Central Division. Yes, they have a young team, but that inexperience could lead to their struggles in September and October. However, their rotation is looking really solid and I would predict Dave Bush as their best starter this year.
I really believe that this division is up for grabs. It will come down to the last few weeks or games of the season. The Cubs should be able to take this division, with the Brewers and Reds right behind them.
Nice journalism noting Bleed Cubbie Blue told everyone that all was going to be fine with the Cubs? Shocker! They're never optimistic!
Dont count the bucs out, they are going to toughen out throughout the season, with a lights out bullpen, healthy young pitching, and a great lineup with bay, laroche, paulino, and nady as power guys, and dont count out speedy chris duffy, or clutch freddy sanchez
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