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NL Central: Hope for Cards
So, how many wins is it gonna take to win the NL Comedy Central? Will 83 -- what the Cardinals needed last year to parlay into a world championship -- do the trick? Or will this putrid division produce the first team to show up at the postseason party with a losing record? "I just don't see any team pulling away from the others," says an NL exec. "I could see the Pirates easily still hanging around in August and September."
How rancid is the NL Central these days? A look how the division's "top" three teams fared on Tuesday night: the first-place Brewers continued their astonishing swoon -– the DiMeo crime family has had a better month -- as they were no-hit by Justin Verlander; the Cardinals were beat around by formidable AL juggernaut Kansas City; and the Cubs lost to the Mariners after 13 agonizing innings at Wrigley, where Sweet Lou has become so glum that he's making it a habit to hide out from reporters after losses.
Walt Jocketty, G.M. of the Cardinals and Midas of the midseason trade, knows his club still has a very realistic shot, even despite how poorly they've played, and he's shopping for a starting pitcher . Will Mark Buehrle, a free agent after this season, make an early arrival in St. Louis? Viva El Birdos tells us that it's rare for a pitcher of his ilk to move at the trade deadline.
Labels: NL Central
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I think the Brewers are still in fairly good shape, due to the Cardinals and Cubs inability to string things together. Milwaukee has a good young team and looks to be streaky on offense, which should mean that they can rattle off 6 in a row when they play the likes of the Reds, Pirates, etc. BUT...I wonder how this group of mostly youngers will handle the noose around their necks come September. As for St. Louis, they had played very poorly, have had to deal with a lot of outside issues, plus injuries and poor pitching (Reyes) and I think can only get better for them if Pujols gets hot. Ankiel as a big bat, anyone? As for the Cubs....does a 4-14 mark in one run games signal bad luck or a poor clutch team. I think a little of both. On paper, this is the best team in the NL Central, but they seem to be lacking the power for a team made to bash. The pitching has overachieved so far...the ERA will rise, so for the Cubs to hang, they better hit more HR's. I think it'll be a 3 team race, with Pittsburgh lurking deep into the season. My projection is that St. Louis or Chicago overtakes Milwaukee in the end by a game or 2...likely St. Louis.
The NL Central might be the underestimated division. These teams have beat up on each other and have had their share of obstacles. For the Cubs its Relief Pitching, the Cards its injuries, and the Brewers have a problem with success. But don't be surprised. The team that makes it out alive from the Central will have much to say in the playoffs. You heard it here first.
They should give the AL Central the NL's playoff spot.
I wouldn't count the Redlegs out just yet. The Reds, who just missed the playoffs last year, aren't out of it by a long shot. Say they trade Adam Dunn for a quality starting pitcher and then get Eddie Guardado back to help out that struggling bullpen. The Reds can score runs. Harang is as solid as they come. Arroyo has been struggling as of late but he is a good starting pitcher. Say Homer Bailey becomes everything they think he will be and their Minor League stud Bobby Livingston pans out which he already showed signs of during his MLB debut. Throw that quality starter in for Adam Dunn and all of a sudden the Reds have a pitching staff together to help them make a run. This team is dangerous if the other teams let them hang around until they make their run.
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
Wild Card (Friday)