Once the ink on Matt Holliday's contract began to dry, it became safe to assume the St. Louis Cardinals would be clear favorites to win their fifth National League Central title in the last seven years.
From MVP Albert Pujols to Cy Young candidates Cris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright to the managerial savvy of Tony LaRussa, the Cardinals are primed to exceed last year's 91-71 mark. The sting of being swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS will also serve as motivation for a club that has dominated the division over the last decade with six Central crowns, two NL pennants and a World Series title.
Can anyone compete with St.. Louis?
*Chicago won't be as injury-prone as they were in 2009.
*Cincinnati's youth movement has the potential to pay off so long as manager Dusty Baker doesn't destroy the young arms of Homer Bailey and Arodis Chapman.
*As long as Milwaukee has Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in the lineup, the Brewers will remain a threat.
*Even Houston and Pittsburgh -- with a series of earth-shaking breaks -- could join the argument.
How will it all shake out? Begin the slide show and find out....