Previewing the NL Central: 2012-2013 Kyle Dallman February 11, 2013 Editorial 3 Comments Last season I took a look at the NL Central in depth by looking at each teams major additions and subtractions of the off-season as well as ranking each team by their positions. This season I thought with all of the changes in the NL Central including the departure of the Houston Astros that I should make this an annual segment. So here is a look starting with the teams order in the standings in the past season, at what could be in the NL Central this upcoming season: Cincinnati Reds: Additions: Shin Soo-Choo Xavier Paul Jack Hannahan Manny Parra Miguel Olivo Cesar Izturis Subtractions: Drew Stubbs Jason Donald The Reds won the NL Central last season but were no match for the Giants in the post season. The team has offensive fire power highlighted by Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips as well as a stellar bullpen and slick defense. I expect the Reds to start off strong and I think they have a good chance at winning the Central again this season. I think they are going to be the Cardinals biggest (and maybe only) competition in the division. One major change for the Reds is that they are making their star closer transition into the bullpen. If he can make an impact in the Reds rotation they could be lights out, scary to think about. St. Louis Cardinals: Additions; Randy Choate Ty Wigginton Ronny Cedeno Rob Johnson Subtractions: Skip Schumaker Kyle Lohse Lance Berkman Brian Fuentes The Cardinals did very little in the off-season and with the recent news that Chris Carpenter will most likely miss all of 2013 and possibly end his career, the Cardinals are at a slight disadvantage. However the Cardinals have a surplus of young and powerful right handed arms including Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Trevor Rosenthal. The Cardinals also still have one of the best offenses in baseball highlighted by Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, David Freese, and Allen Craig. The Cardinals biggest issue in 2013 will be just like it has in recent years, health. With the aging Furcal and Carlos Beltran set to be big parts of the lineup and with troubled pasts like Jaime Garcia, Allen Craig, and David Freese staying healthy is going to be important for the Cardinals. It will be tough but I think the Cardinals can compete for the Central and if they cannot win it I think they can easily be a wild card team once again. Milwaukee Brewers: Additions: Tom Gorzelanny Kelvim Escobar Mike Gonzalez Reed Johnson Subtractions: Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) Shaun Marcum Jose Veras Manny Parra Kameron Loe The Brewers are in a world of trouble in 2013. Not only did they lose Zack Greinke in the summer of 2012, they also lost Shaun Marcum and some key members of their bullpen. Corey Hart will also miss considerable time due to an injury and once again Ryan Braun is under suspicion of PED’s. The Brewers bullpen and health will be the biggest concern in the season, after John Axford had a meltdown last season. The closers role should be a big question for the Brew Crew. I don’t expect much of the Brewers this season maybe a late season surge could help them but I am expecting a fourth or third place finish from the Brewers. Pittsburgh Pirates: Additions: Jonathan Sanchez Russel Martin Francisco Liriano Brad Hawpe Jerry Sands Mark Melancon Vin Mazzaro Subtractions: Joel Hanrahan Rod Barajas Chad Qualls Kevin Correia The Pirates traded away their stud closer Joel Hanrahan in a move that brought them Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, and minor leaguer Ivan Dejesus which was about their biggest moves of the off-season. However they did add some decent help with Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Sanchez, Vin Mazzaro and Brad Hawpe. I expect the Pirates to continue their trend of starting off hot and then falling off of the face of the map towards the end of the season. They do have some promise though having AJ Burnett as their ace and a solid lineup featuring superstar Andrew McCutchen who fell just short of winning the MVP award last season, and young talent like Neil Walker, Gaby Sanchez, and Pedro Alvarez. Chicago Cubs: Additions: Edwin Jackson Scott Hairston Dontrelle Willis Carlos Villauneva Darnell McDonald Hisanori Takahasi Nate Schierholtz Scott Feldman Subtractions: Bryan LaHair Joe Mather The Cubs are going to be the Cubs in 2013. They are still in the process of a Theo Epstein rebuild, and though their off-season wasn’t spectacular, they did add some nice pieces in Scott Hairston and Edwin Jackson. The Cubs have some promising stars in the making like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, but besides that they have a pretty awful team. The bullpen and rotation will be two of the Cubs’ biggest worries as well as defense (minus gold-glover Darwin Barney). I expect a last place finish from the Cubs and a very sub-par season, but look for good numbers from Rizzo and Castro. Ranking by Positions: Catchers: Yadier Molina– STL Russel Martin- PIT Jonathan Lucroy– MIL Ryan Hanigan– CIN Wellington Castillo-CHC First Base: Joey Votto-CIN Allen Craig-STL Anthony Rizzo-CHC Corey Hart (If Healthy)-MIL Garret Jones-PIT Second Base: Brandon Phillips– CIN Neil Walker-PIT Rickie Weeks-MIL Darwin Barney-CHC Daniel Descalso-STL Short-Stops: Starlin Castro– CHC Rafael Furcal (If healthy)- STL Alex Gonzalez-MIL Zack Cozart-CIN Clint Barmes-PIT Third Base: Aramis Ramirez– MIL David Freese-STL Pedro Alvarez-PIT Jack Hannahan-CIN Ian Stewart-CHC Left Field: Ryan Braun– MIL Matt Holliday– STL Ryan Ludwick-CIN Alfonso Soriano-CHC Starlin Marte/Jose Tabata– PIT Center Field: Andrew McCutchen-PIT Shin-Soo-Choo-CIN Jon Jay– STL Carlos Gomez-MIL David DeJesus-CHC Right Field: Carlos Beltran-STL Jay Bruce-CIN Travis Snyder-PIT Norichicka Aoki-MIL Nate Schierholtz-CHC Rotation: STL- Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia (if healthy), Lance Lynn, (Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal) CIN- Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Leake PIT- AJ Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Francisco Liriano,Jeff Karstens MIL-Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrado, Chris Narveson, Michael Fiers, Willy Peralta CHC- Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villaneuva Bullpen: CIN- Jonathan Broxton, Nick Masset, Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek, Manny Parra STL- Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Marc Rzepczynski, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly PIT- Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson,Bryan Morris, Chris Leroux CHC- Carlos Marmol,Kyuji Fujikawa,Shawn Camp, James Russell, Michael Bowden, Hisanori Takahashi MIL- John Axford, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Mike Gonzalez, Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzelanny http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse I wasn’t aware that Brian Fuentes was ever an “addition” in the first place. http://www.facebook.com/people/Casey-Tanner/100000447597115 Casey Tanner he was, didnt pitch much if at all, i dont remember. then left for personal reasons. sucks cas in his prime he was one hell of a lefty chris I disagreed with the rotation pitching rankings. In my opinion Cincy is a clear number 1 with 2 near aces (Cueto and Latos) not to mention the addition of perhaps the best stuff in the division in Chapman. However, the loss of Chapman may narrow the gap between their bullpen and the Card’s.