March 31, 2011

Breaking down the National League

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

After looking at the younger, better American League on Wednesday, it’s time for the National League to get its due. At least San Francisco did well to help remove the Quadruple-A tarnish by winning it all last year, but overall, the talent in this league is still inferior.

NL East: The Phillies rotation is straight up ridiculous. It’ll take a lot for anyone in this division to take them down. Even if their lineup underachieves, they can still land in the playoffs … The Braves have an interesting, young team that are looking to build off of a solid 2010. While many see them making the post-season, I can’t back them after looking a bit like overachievers … In recent years, the Mets owners have been scammed pretty badly twice’ once by Bernie Madoff and once by Jason Bay, who is getting paid superstar money to be average at best. Let the rebuild in Queens continue … Surprise! The Marlins are a young team with a bunch of prospects that could take a light run at the wild card. They’ll ultimately fall short though, like they always do … Without Stephen Strasburg, there’s little hype around the Nationals this season. And for good reason, their big signing was Jayson Werth, a guy who’s a No. 5 hitter and not worth anywhere near what he’s making.
NL Central: The Reds were the surprise of last season, riding some underdog talent and a guy with a 105 mph fastball into the post-season. Whether they can do that again remains to be seen, even with MVP Joey Votto and the fire-balling Aroldis Chapman. Also, if you have Chapman, why not use him as either a starter or a closer? Having him as your setup man makes no sense … This could be the last season the Cardinals can call on Albert Pujols to lead them; they better do something to make him want to stay regardless of the contract money. St. Louis shouldn’t have trouble staying in the race and could easily take the division … This will most certainly be the Chicago Cubs’ 103rd season in a row without a World Series title. The talent’s not there and a rebuild is necessary. More sad days for the North Siders … The Brewers made some trades and now have a trifecta of aces to go with their solid lineup. Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum should excel in the NL and with Prince Fielder in a contract year, anything’s possible … As for Houston and Pittsburgh, ugh. At least the Pirates have some prospects for the future, the Astros are just bad.
NL West: The Giants aren’t going to shock or surprise anybody this season. They’re no longer the underdog and have a massive target on their collective backs. They could have a tough time even making it back to the playoffs if their lineup can’t keep pace and their rotation suffers an injury or two … The Dodgers are still suffering through their owner’s divorce, which is really handcuffing the team’s payroll … The Rockies came on strong last season, just missing out on the playoffs. With Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and ace Ubaldo Jimenez, the post-season isn’t just a dream for this squad … The Padres predictably traded away their best player, Adrian Gonzalez, this past winter. Looks like back to also-ran status for them … To summarize what I think of Arizona’s chances, I struggled to remember the fifth team in this division.
Coming tomorrow: A whole whack of picks and predictions for MLB’s 2011 season!
Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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