FanIQ NL Central Preview

The Reds-Cardinals Rivalry Will Only Heat Up [FanIQ NL Central Preview]

3/14/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Chicago CubsBlog Photo - FanIQ NL Central Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
CF David DeJesus
SS Starlin Castro
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Nate Schierholtz/Scott Hairston
3B Ian Stewart
C Welington Castillo
2B Darwin Barney
 
Projected Rotation
 
RHP Jeff Samardzija
RHP Edwin Jackson
RHP Scott Feldman
LHP Travis Wood
RHP Carlos Villaneuva
 
Closer: RHP Carlos Marmol
 
Key Losses: 1B Bryan LaHair, SP Chris Volstad
 
Last year was the bottom out year for the Cubs as they lost 101 games. For the offseason, Theo Epstein and his brain trust made some reasonable upgrades at decent prizes, most notably Edwin Jackson. Jackson will never be a star, but he’s above average, durable, and still only 29. At 4 years and $52 million, you can do much worse. Jackson will be the #3 starter once Matt Garza comes back from his lat injury (remember the above rotation is for Opening Day), behind Garza and Samardzija, one of last year’s pleasant surprises.  The other new starter Feldman is more of a stopgap, but at least is only signed for a year. Overall, it’s a decent but far from spectacular rotation, particularly if Garza is traded.
 
The lineup last year couldn’t even scratch out four runs a game, so there’s nowhere to go but up. The bottom line is the only potential stars are Castro and Rizzo, and as such they are the building blocks. The other decent young assets in this lineup are Castillo, who showed potential after a 106 OPS+ year (good for a catcher) in 2012, and possibly outfielder Brett Jackson, who can be a starter if he cuts down on the whiffs. Guys like DeJesus and the right field platoon are solid vets, but won’t be on the next good Cubs team. Soriano finally stopped being terrible at least, although it still probably wasn’t enough for someone to take the last two years of that massive deal. Second and third base remain black holes unless Josh Vitters actually figures it out. Like the pitching, the lineup could be decent, but it will be far from great.
 
Carlos Marmol is still the closer, but who knows if he actually ends the season in that role.
 
The rebuild is moving at a decent pace, but it won’t be quick, and guys like Garza and DeJesus could still be traded. If you squint hard enough, .500 is possible, but the real goal of the year is for what young talent is on the North Side to take another step forward.
 
Projected Record: 69-93
 
Down on the Farm: Not surprisingly, Epstein has been focused on building the farm system, and as such has a few exciting prospects in the low minors. SS Javier Baez tops the list after a breakout .889 OPS in A-ball as a 19 year old with power potential. The team’s first round pick last year, OF Albert Almora, and Cuban signing OF Jorge Soler also have great tools that need time to develop skills. The cupboard is barer closer to the big leagues, but we could SP Arodys Vizcaino, acquired in the Paul Maholm trade, in Wrigley at some point this year depending on how has Tommy John recovery goes.

Those are my picks and predictions for the NL Central this season. What are yours?
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4/1/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

(Edited by kramer)

The starting rotation is a complete mess and a comedy of errors to start the season for the Bucs.  They really only have 3 starters.  Offseason acquisition Francisco Liriano isn't ready to start the season, and the Pirates are being very stubborn with Gerritt Cole, refusing to bring him up until at least June like they did with Andrew McCutchen a few years ago.  With as disastrous as the rotation looks, they're only hurting themselves by not putting Cole in the rotation to start the year.

I'm also extremely nervous about Mark Melancon's ability to keep a lead in the 8th inning to even set things up for Jason Grilli to close out a game.

3/20/13   |   punditty

Pete Kozma is going to be interesting to watch this year. Go Redbirds!

3/14/13   |   Scott   |   53012 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Yeah, that's why I don't have them winning the division. They have a lot of young arms, and at least 1 or 2 should develop, but for this year, I think they're a bit behind the Reds. I may have misjudged Lynn though, because for some reason I thought he was around 30, not 25. Oops. blush

Lynn still has to prove that last year was no fluke. With Carpenter out for the season, Lohse unsigned and Garcia injury prone, the Cardinals will need him to step up and be another Waino type work horse.

3/14/13   |   Sharp Square   |   11941 respect


I don't see the Cards really taking much more of a step up for this season and maybe even a tick down if they have any kind of injury problems in the starting rotation. Reds are clearly the class of this division for me , cards are always scrappy and may make it somewhat of a decent race, maybe. 

I actually get as much or more enjoyment watching the cubbies and pirates out of this division cheeky

3/14/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Scott wrote:
If the Cardinals are going to compete with the Reds for the division title, they'll need their young arms to take another giant step forward.

Yeah, that's why I don't have them winning the division. They have a lot of young arms, and at least 1 or 2 should develop, but for this year, I think they're a bit behind the Reds. I may have misjudged Lynn though, because for some reason I thought he was around 30, not 25. Oops. blush

3/14/13   |   jvardaman   |   3 respect

Offense is definitely going to be the key to this year's Reds. With that rotation (if Chapman is thrown in at the 5) they will be in just about every game this summer. If the offense can stay slightly better than mediocre, this team will win a lot of games. As far as the Cards go, I only disagree with you saying Lynn has reached his potential. He has only been a major league starter for one year, so he can only improve on a season where he still won 18 games. If both of these teams can stay healthy-- and that's a big if-- this will be one of the best races in the Bigs.

3/14/13   |   huskerdoug2009   |   2790 respect

I agree with Scott on the Cards.  Was sad to see Carpenter injured again.  The man is a poor man's Orel Hershiser in terms of toughness.  I still think the Reds could use more offense to make a serious playoff run though.

3/14/13   |   Scott   |   53012 respect

If the Cardinals are going to compete with the Reds for the division title, they'll need their young arms to take another giant step forward.