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NL Central Analysis

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Alright I know the off-season isnt done yet (It's close enough) I'm gonna breakdown the National League Central division. You can say what you think I said is right and what I said is wrong. I'm gonna try and not be biased on my Cardinals and look at each team the way I see em turning out.


My Schedule:

St. Louis Cardinals: Jan. 30

Chicago Cubs: Feb. 2

Houston Astros: Feb. 5

Cincinatti Reds: Feb. 8

Milwaukee Brewers: Feb. 11

Pittsburgh Pirates: Feb. 14

Division Overall Breakdown: Feb. 17


2004 NL Central Division Standings:

Central  	W  	L  	Pct  	GB  	Home  	Road  	East  	Cent  	West  	
St. Louis 	105 	57 	.648 	-- 	53-28 	52-29 	19-11 	54-36 	21-9	
Houston 	 92 	70 	.568 	13.0 	48-33 	44-37 	16-14 	55-35 	14-16
Chi Cubs 	 89 	73 	.549 	16.0 	45-37 	44-36 	16-14 	50-40 	15-15
Cincinnati 	 76 	86 	.469 	29.0 	40-41 	36-45 	18-12 	38-52 	15-15
Pittsburgh 	 72 	89 	.447 	32.5 	39-41 	33-48 	17-13 	37-52 	16-14
Milwaukee 	 67 	94 	.416 	37.5 	36-45 	31-49 	11-19 	35-54 	13-17

2004 National League Champions: St. Louis Cardinals

Offseason Additions:

C Einar Diaz

2B Mark Grudzielanek

SS David Eckstein

SP Mark Mulder

RP Mike Myers


Offseason Losses:

C Mike Matheny

C Daric Barton

2B Tony Womack

SS Edgar Renteria

SP Danny Haren

RP Steve Kline

RP Kiko Calero


Projected Lineup:


1. David Eckstein, SS (.276 AVG, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 92 Runs, 16/21 SB)

Positives: Hit and Run hitter, One of the best in league at handling bat.

Negatives: Nobody fears him, Doesnt draw walks.


2. Admin Walker, RF (.298 AVG, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 51 Runs, 6/6 SB)

Positives: Good bat speed, Works the counts, Mistake pitch hitter, Good power, Can hit Righties & Lefties.

Negatives: Overpowered when crowded by hard stuff, Chases breaking balls outta strike zone.


3. Albert Pujols, 1b (.331 AVG, 36 HR, 123 RBI, 133 Runs, 5/10 SB)

Positives: Turns on best hard stuff regulary, Remarkable power to opposite field, outstanding breaking ball hitter, Mastery at strike zone improves each year.

Negatives: Anxious sometimes on offspeed pitches away, Possible to jam him with high hard stuff.


4. Scott Rolen, 3b (.314 AVG, 34 HR, 124 RBI, 109 Runs, 4/7 SB)

Positives: Works strike zone, Added strength to increase power, Good hitter with RISP (3rd in NL)

Negatives: Crowd him with high hard stuff, typically lays off.


5. Jim Edmonds, CF (.301 AVG, 42 HR, 111 RBI, 102 Runs, 8/11 SB)

Positives: Complete hitter, Dangerous on breaking balls/hard stuff, Good eye at the plate, Opposite-Field power makes him difficult to defend in outfield, Jumps on first-pitch fastballs (12 HR's).

Negatives: Difficulty of laying off high fastballs, Gives away at bats swinging at two-strike pitches outta strike zone.


6. Reggie Sanders, LF (.260 AVG, 22 HR, 67 RBI, 64 Runs, 21/26 SB)

Positives: Excellent bat speed, Good mistake hitter, Fastball down in Zone and he hits it, Produces in clutch situations. Extra-base damage to opposite field.

Negatives: Strike-out prone, Trouble handling fastballs up the strikezone, Swings at first pitches and falls behind in counts.


7. Mark Grudzielanek, 2b (.307 AVG, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 32 Runs, 1/2 SB)

Positives: Line-drive hitter who uses whole field, Performs better in bottom part of order.

Negatives: Agressive hitter that doesnt take many pitches.


8. Yadier Molina, C (.267 AVG, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 12 Runs, 0/1 SB)

Positives: Better hitter than Mike Matheny.

Negatives: Can't hit fastballs that good when behind in count, Slider with 2 strikes automatic out basically, Slow runner.



Projected Bench:


INF Hector Luna (.249 AVG, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 25 Runs, 6/9 SB)

Positives: Good fastball hitter when ahead of count.

Negatives: Bad fastball hitter with 2 strikes, Chases curveballs.


INF/OF John Mabry (.296 AVG, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 32 Runs, 0/1 SB)

Positives: Hits Lefties well, Good fastball hitter, Good power and surprising pop to opposite field.

Negatives: Agressive hitter early in count which leads to being prone to strikeouts.


OF So Taguchi (.291 AVG, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 26 Runs, 6/9 SB)

Positives: Added strength and shortened his swing, Mistake pitch hitter especially breaking balls.

Negatives: Chases sliders.


OF Roger Cedeno (.265 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 22 Runs, 5/6 SB)

Positives: Switch-hitter, Good fastball hitter left-handed.

Negatives: Chases Changeups and splitters left-handed, cant hit fastballs right-handed.


C Einar Diaz (.223 AVG, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 9 Runs, 2/2 SB)

Positives: Does not strikeout much, Can be used in hit-and-run situations.

Negatives: No offensive skills, Does not draw walks.


Projected Rotation:


1. LHP Mark Mulder (17-8 4.43 ERA, 140 K, 225.2 IP)

Positives: Smooth delivery, Height and deciptive delivery keeps hitters guessing, never pitched less than 150 innings a season in his career.

Negatives: Injury concerns. Why was he traded?


2. RHP Chris Carpenter (15-5 3.46 ERA, 152 K, 182.0 IP)

Positives: Regained sharpness on one of best curveballs in baseball, Developed excellent command on offspeed pitches, Power increased as each week passed,

Negatives: Coming off an injury that kept him outta the playoffs.


3. RHP Matt Morris (15-10 4.72 ERA, 131 K, 202.0 IP)

Positives: Matt coming off off-season surgery, Sinker helped induced 26 DP's (3rd in NL), Outstanding changeup.

Negatives: Matt coming off off-season surgery, No longer power pitcher, Fastball only is 90-92 MPH now, Around plate too much, which leads to allowing tons of homers.


4. RHP Jeff Suppan (16-9 4.16 ERA, 110 K, 188.0 IP)

Positives: Mixes speeds and locations successfully, Good curveball, Above-average control, Inning-eater.

Negatives: Doesnt have an overpowering pitch, Nibbles too much w/RISP, Not a 100 pitch a game pitcher.


5. RHP Jason Marquis (15-7 3.71 ERA, 138 K, 201.1 IP)

Positives: Decent curveball and changeup.

Negatives: Stubborn about taking advice, Ignored suggestions that he might have been tipping pitches.


6. LHP Rick Ankiel (Bullpen: 1-0 5.40 ERA, 9 K, 10.0 IP)

Positives: Has worked hard to find way back to major's after Tommy John Surgery, Devastating sharp breaking curve, Developing changeup. No Wildness last year. Better control pitcher. More mature.

Negatives: Came home from Winter League with a scare with arm injury but he says he's ok.


Projected Bullpen:


RHP Jason Isringhausen (4-2 2.87 ERA, 47/54 SV, 71 K, 75.1 IP)

Positives: Excellent late movement on fastball, Confidence in power curve.

Negatives: Plagued by tired shoulder, Vulnerable when he does not get ahead of hitters, Command of the strike zone can occasionally become erratic.


RHP Julian Tavarez (7-4 2.38 ERA, 4/6 SV, 19 Hld, 48 K, 64.1 IP)

Positives: Big-Time setup reliever last year, Pounds bottom of strikezone with sinkers and a hard slider, Agile athlete.

Negatives: Throws tantrums, Punches walls, Wears oil well (reportedly) on hat, Gets thrown outta games, Gets suspended, Below-average changeup,


LHP Ray King (5-2 2.61 ERA, 0/1 SV, 31 Hld, 40 K, 62.0 IP)

Positives: Reliable, Strands runners on base, Willing to take ball every day, Very tought on lefties, Surprisingly agile off the mound. Players cant hit his sliders.

Negatives: Throws tons of fastballs when behind in count.


LHP Mike Myers (5-1 4.64 ERA, 0/0 SV, 10 Hld, 32 K, 42.2 IP)

Positives: Tough on left-handed batters, players cant hit sliders.

Negatives: ???


RHP Mike Lincoln (3-2 5.19 ERA, 0/2 SV, 1 Hld, 14 K, 17.1 IP)]

Positives: Did ok last year until got injured.

Negatives: Was overused, had surgery


RHP Cal Eldred (4-2 3.67 ERA, 1/3 SV, 9 Hld, 54 K, 67.0 IP)

Positives: Lives with fastball, Holds runners.

Negatives: Dies with fastball, Must be fine with location or becomes vulnerable to longball.


RHP Al Reyes (0-0 0.75 ERA, 0/0 SV, 0 Hld, 11 K, 12.0 IP)

Positives: Can be used as a starter.

Negatives: Dunno, didnt see much of him last year.



Outfield -

Edmonds is one of the best centerfielders in baseball if not the best. Admin Walker has a strong arm and good accuracy in RF. Reggie Sanders is solid in LF. So Taguchi is a stud at defense. John Mabry is okay. Roger Cedeno was better than people gave him credit for last year. I dont think he made an error all year but I could be wrong. The outfield is fine defensively.

Infield -

Yadier Molina is great defensively and has a cannon of an arm but still will let Wild Pitches get through and there will be passed balls. At times I'm gonna wish we still had Matheny's amazing defense. Einar Diaz I dunno about but could teach Molina some things. Albert Pujols WILL win a GOLD GLOVE before it's said and done. Grudzielanek isnt much worse than Womack was last year honestly. Hector Luna shows some flashes but makes some stupid mistakes. Eckstein is certianly a downgrade from Renteria without a shadow of a doubt and has limited range but how much range do you need when Scott Rolen is on the other side of you?

Overall -

Not much worse than last year but questions remain up the middle (Molina, Eckstein, Grudzielanek). We'll see but I dont think it'll be that bad.


- This team is still the best in the National League Central, if not the National League. They lost a bit in Renteria and Matheny but let's not forget Admin Walker starts the year. Eckstein aint all that bad. Grudzielanek can be better than Womack hitting wise and fielding wise. The Defense may be a decline with Grudz/Eck instead of Renteria/Womack but that's what happens. I see no reason Walker cant put up the numbers Renteria did last year and more. Eckstein and Grudz should fit into the Cardinals style just perfect. The Bench isnt any better than last year's. The Rotation is just as good as last year but injury concerns around Mulder, Carpenter, and Morris. Bullpen is a little worse than last year. Losing a quality arm in Kiko Calero, a great setup guy in Kline, and a starter/reliever in Haren isnt that much fun. But let's not forget Rick Ankiel is coming back (He'll most likely start for Morris 1st month or so) but I think he could excel like Calero did in the pen and take his spot. Mike Myers aint no Steve Kline but that's ok. He can be a situational lefty. Al Reyes was good in his short time with the Cards last year. Mike Lincoln also pitched solid until he got injured and was out the year. Good team still considering the losses. Look for them in the playoffs again contending for a National League Championship.

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They've lost a whole monkey lot at the middle infeild.



Defensively.. I'm not sure.. Eckstein doesnt have the range Renteria had, but it could be worse I guess.. Grudzielanek aint much worse than Womack range wise.. The only thing that really concerns me is how they are gonna turn double plays for our pitchers this year. If it works they'll be fine. If it doesnt work it'll be a long year.. Matheny on the other hand is a huge loss IMO and the way he called games for this staff will be noticed. Molina could have used another year behind Matheny learning, but it's time for Molina to step up. He's suppose to be the best catcher in that family. Molina has a great arm and will catch a lot of runners stealing (That's assuming Grudz/Eck can catch his arm).


Offensively.. You cant even compare Renteria and Eckstein. Renteria had a down year last year but it's gonna be hard to replace him. With Walker playing most of a year (If healthy), a little bit of Eckstein scoring runs and getting on base, Grudzielanek can hit as good as Womack did last year (.307 avg, 5 hr, 38 rbi - Cmon now -) , I dont see much of a decline in all honesty. Matheny had his best hitting year last year.. Wasnt nothing to write home about.. Molina may hit for a better avg, but not have as many rbi's or homers..


Who knows.. That's what I love about the off-season.. Questioning these players!

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St. Louis Cardinals

Chicago Cubs

Houston Astros

Cincinatti Reds

Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates

Division Overall Breakdown

- Forget the schedule.. I'll post whenever I feel like it!


Chicago Cubs

Offseason Additions:

C Henry Blanco

RP Stephen Randolph

RP Chad Fox

RP Scott Williamson

INF Cody Ransom

OF Peter Bergeron

OF Jeromy Burnitz


Offseason Losses:

2B Mark Grudzielanek

OF Sammy Sosa

OF Moises Alou

SP Matt Clement

RP Kent Mercker


Projected Lineup:



1. Jerry Hairston, LF (.303 AVG, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 43 Runs, 13/21 SB)

Positives: Values walks, Average plate patience, Hard worker that's improving. Top of-the-order speed.

Negatives: Breaking ball on outside corner gets him out but he's improving that, Injury-prone, Hasnt developed into an above-average bunter.


2. Todd Walker, 2b (.274 AVG, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 60 Runs, 0/3 SB)

Positives: Excellent contact hitter w/line-drive power, Capable of pulling through the ball, Tough with 2 strikes.

Negatives: Liability against Lefties, usually sits against them.


3. Nomar Garciaparra, SS (.308 AVG, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 52 Runs, 4/5 SB)

Positives: Hits the ball hard no matter what league he's in.

Negatives: Lacked his usual homerun power last year, Injured last year.


4. Aramis Ramirez, 3b (.318 AVG, 36 HR, 103 RBI, 99 Runs, 0/2 SB)

Positives: Better discipline at the plate aswell as approach, Agressive hitter, Low strikeout player. Power to left and left-center.

Negatives: Agressive hitter.


5. Derrek Lee, 1b (.298 AVG, 32 HR, 98 RBI, 90 Runs, 12/17 SB)

Positives: Slashing line-drive hitter that uses all Wrigley Field, Intelligent approach at plate.

Negatives: Can be tied up inside w/high pitches, Workload affected him towards end of 04 season.


6. Jeromy Burnitz, RF (.283 AVG, 37 HR, 110 RBI, 94 Runs, 5/11 SB)

Positives: Sits on fastballs early in count.

Negatives: Strikeouts galore, Trys to yank everything.


7. Corey Patterson, CF (.266 AVG, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 91 Runs, 32/41 SB)

Positives: Can hit for power, Can hit for line drives, Can bunt for basehit, Hits lefties better than righties.

Negatives: Lack of patience, Poor command of K Zone, Free swinger to anything that looks good on 2 strike count, Susceptible to high fastballs out of zone especially with 2 strikes.


8. Michael Barrett, C (.287 AVG, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 55 Runs, 1/5 SB)

Positives: Can use all parts of field, Power to Left - Left Center, Agressive hitter that likes to jump on first pitch.

Negatives: Workload behind the plate affected him down the stretch last year.


Projected Bench:



Todd Hollandsworth, RF (.318 AVG, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 28 Runs, 1/2 SB)

Positives: Good pinch hitter, Can start and put up solid numbers occasionally.

Negatives: Slowed bat speed, Trouble catching up to plus fastballs, Struggles with breaking stuff.


OF Jason Dubois (.217 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 Runs, 0/0 SB)

Positives: Dubois is one of the most disciplined hitters in the Cubs system, Great walk rate, Has good eye.

Negatives: Strikes out a bunch.


OF David Kelton (.100 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 Runs, 0/0 SB)

Positives: Nice pop, Very Good power.

Negatives: Strikes out, Doesnt walk, Cant control strikezone.


INF/OF Jose Macias (.268 AVG, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 23 Runs, 4/5 SB)

Positives: Excellent bunter, Has some power if given chance to play daily.

Negatives: Slap-hitter who starts swinging once he steps out of the dugout, Doesnt make contact.


IF Neifi Perez (.255 AVG, 4 HR, 39 RBI, 40 Runs, 1/2 SB)

Positives: Switch hitter, Agressive line-drive hitter, More right handed extra base pop.

Negatives: Doesnt draw walks, Doesnt hit for power.


C Henry Blanco (.206 AVG, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 36 Runs, 0/3 SB)

Positives: Above-average power.

Negatives: Makes poor contact.


Projected Rotation:



1. RHP Mark Prior (6-4 4.02 ERA, 139 K, 118.2 IP)

Positives: Has exquisite command, Good curveball, Still developing changeup.

Negatives: Trouble with command on curve allowing hitters to sit on fastballs, Coming off another injury.


2. RHP Kerry Wood (8-9 3.79 ERA, 144 K, 140.1 IP)

Positives: Power pitcher, Best pitch is a fastball, One of the best curveballs in baseball.

Negatives: Prone to one bad inning that can wreck a start, Emotional on the mound sometimes, Still learning to get hold of himself when things go bad.


3. RHP Carlos Zambrano (16-8 2.75 ERA, 188 K, 209.2 IP)

Positives: Best stuff on the staff, Hard to hit, Cannonball of a sinker to hit, a workhorse.

Negatives: Emotional pitcher on the mound, At times can lose control, Shows up teammates sometimes, Infuriates opponents.


4. RHP Greg Maddux (16-11 4.02 ERA, 151 K, 212.2 IP)

Positives: Finger pressure on ball allows him to succeed with fastball, 15+ wins almost every year in career.

Negatives: Never overpowering, Gave up a career high in homeruns last year.


5. LHP Glendon Rusch (6-2 3.47 ERA, 2/2 SV, 90 K, 129.2 IP)

Positives: Gained better command on curveball, Spotted fastball better, Excellent fielder that holds runners on.

Negatives: Hardly overpowering. Fluke year in 2004?



Projected Bullpen:


- I'm really not all that certain on the pen.. Stephen Randolph, Scott Williamson, or Chad Fox could make the team. Who knows..


RHP LaTroy Hawkins (5-4 2.63 ERA, 25/34 SV, 69 K, 82.0 IP)

Positives: Good live arm with good fastball, Improved Slider, Good fielder.

Negatives: Better setup reliever, Not good under pressure.


RHP Joe Borowski (2-4 8.02 ERA, 9/11 SV, 17 K, 21.1 IP)

Positives: When he's on he's able to spot his fastball, Has good slider, Effective against RH and LH.

Negatives: Coming off rehab/injury last year.


RHP Ryan Dempster (1-1 3.92 ERA, 2/2 SV, 18 K, 20.2 IP)

Positives: Good fastball, Hard slider, Holds runners well.

Negatives: Non-Consistent release point which leads to walks, Lack of command in strikezone.


RHP Kyle Farnsworth (4-5 4.73 ERA, 0/4 SV, 18 Hld, 78 K, 66.2 IP)

Positives: Electric Fastball, Developed late-breaking slider.

Negatives: On the Trade Market?, Inconsistency, Kicks Electrical fans.


LHP Mike Remlinger (1-2 3.44 ERA, 2/6 SV, 13 Hld, 35 K, 36.2 IP)

Positives: Pitched better when given couple off days off before appearance, Effective against RH, Tough to run on him.

Negatives: Inconsistency, Not your ideal lefty reliever that can get one LH out.


RHP Jon Leicester (5-1 3.89 ERA, 0/2 SV, 5 Hld, 35 K, 41.2 IP)

Positives: One of Cubs most reliable relievers last year, Can work when needed wether thats early, middle, or late of games, Improved command.

Negatives: Faded towards end of year.


RHP Todd Wellemeyer (2-1 5.92 ERA, 0/0 SV, 0 Hld, 30 K, 24.1 IP)

Positives: I honestly dont know on him.

Negatives: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^



Outfield - Corey Patterson is very good in CF.. If not for Edmonds, he'd be the best CF in the NL Central now.. Burnitz and Hairston are questionable IMHO... Hollandsworth is very solid..

Infield - Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee make up for one of the best corner infields in the National League. Nomar and Walker remain questions up the middle. Perez brings a good glove. Barrett's alright behind the plate.

Overall - Not the greatest, but it doesnt have to be when you have pitchers that could get about 8 strikeouts per game. It's not bad or that good.


- Cubs will be a team to be reckoned with and are a legitimate threat to the Cardinals this year in the National League Central division and National League. If their pitching stays healthy they have the best rotation in baseball. We all know how good these pitchers are but here are their questions.. Will Prior ever return to form like in 2003? Will Kerry Wood ever be more than a .500 pitcher? Will Zambrano have another good year? Will Maddux continue his streak? Was Glendon Rusch a fluke last year? Bullpen has not improved. Where's the closer? Dempster? Maybe if he's lucky he'll be good.. Hawkins? Better setup guy IMHO. Borowski? Goodluck with that one.. How are they gonna replace Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa's offensive production? With those questions said.. I dont know how good this offense is but I think they are gonna try and go some small ball. Still have some good pop in the lineup though. They'll be in contention for first place in the division and are gonna look for a National League pennant.


Astros will be next whenever I wanna post..


And I'm really trying to be as non-biased as I can be here :)

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Lost: Woody Williams, Edgar Renteria, Steve Kline, Tony Womack

Added: Mark Mulder, Grudz, Eckstien



Lost: Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Matt Clement

Added: Jeromy Burnitz, Jerry Hairston



Lost: Carlos Beltran, Jeff Kent, Wade Miller

Added: ......? I can't think of any



Lost: Scott Podsednik, Craig Counsell, Kolb, Vizcaino

Added: Carlos Lee, Damian Miller,



Lost: Barry Larkin,... ? I can't think of anyone else

Added: Eric Milton



Lost: Jason Kendall

Added: Matt Lawton



This division is much weaker than it was last year...A division that the Cards feasted on for 100+ wins... Cards run away with it again this year... Houston will be lucky to crack the .500 mark... The Cubs lucky to break 85 wins... the final three all seem to be in perpetual state of rebuilding.

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OK, either you know way more about every player in the majors than I do, or you're getting alot of this junk from somewhere. I seriously start to get worried about people when they know the strengths and weaknesses of some guy name David Kelton.



I follow very closely on this division as my team is in it and I'm in Illinois so I usually hear about the Cubs here too.. Also some of those Positives and Negatives come from ESPN.com but not all of them.


:lol Yea I'm gonna sit down.. Watch every game.. Watch every player, write notes down.. Know their strengths and weaknesses..Cmon now :lol .. Seriously I know some of these players :D

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