I have to say, I really do not see a lot of teams competing for the National League Championship this year. Many of these teams look good, but I cannot see them going deep in the playoffs.
Starting with the west, you have teams with very good pitching. The Diamondbacks have a great one-two punch with Brandon Webb and Dan Harren. After them, it gets shaky. A lot of these starters really don't make batters nervous.
The offense has the same problems that the rotation has—lot of young guys. Arizona is waiting for a majority of their guys to adapt. Most of the youth on this team can be blamed on money problems—Arizona does not have money to throw around.
When you look at the Giants you see the same problem. Good pitching backed by very little offense. Their ballpark is an absolute nightmare for hitters who don't have the last name of Howard, Dunn, Fielder, or Ramirez. Their rotation is good enough to keep them in the mix, but their lack of firepower will catch up to them.
The Rockies traded away their big slugger and are in rebuilding mode, so don't expect too much from them. The Dodgers are poised to win the west, simply because Manny Ramirez is a game-changing slugger.
The central division belongs to the Cubs. They, without a doubt, have the best rotation from top to bottom in the NL. Harden, Zambrano, Lilly, and Dempster are money. Add in a solid bullpen and Derek Lee, Milton Bradley, Geovany Soto, and Alfonso Soriano in the lineup and the title is a lock.
Actually, I take that back. The Reds might make a little noise. They have given up on raw power and are ready to become a speed and defense team. I have feeling they will make the Cubs sweat a bit.
The east will come down to two teams—Mets or Phillies. Each team is really a mirror of each other, a sure ace in front of lineups that aren't sure things and a solid lineup. It really comes down to the bullpen, and I have to give the nod to Philadelphia. They have a seasoned pen, a good setup man in Ryan Madson, and solid closer.
Yes, the Mets got two of the best closers out there, but that does not make up for the rest of the bullpen.
So, out of all those teams, the NL title will come down to either the Mets, Phillies, or Cubs. The other teams are solid, but they all need more time to flesh out.
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