St. Louis Cardinals
Such a wide-open race; any one of the top three could take it. It should be fun to watch. Milwaukee vastly improved its rotation. When he returns, Zack Greinke will form an imposing 1-2-3 along with Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum, whichever order you put them in. Prince Fielder is playing for a payday, and Ryan Braun is one of the best outfielders in the game.
Cincinnati tries to defend its division title. The Reds lineup is a nice blend of speed and power, a bit more of the latter, and while the rotation is suspect, they could convert flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman into a starter or trade for one in the summer. Let's not forget last year’s NL MVP Joey Votto, either.
To be fair, this division may have belonged to St. Louis before Adam Wainwright went down for the year. Just too big of a loss; I mean, did you see that curveball to Beltran? Okay, moving on before I get upset…The Cards still have the best player on the planet, Albert Pujols, playing for a contract. Yeah, .425/60/150 sounds right. There has to be a pitcher Dave Duncan can't fix, right?
I really think these three teams come down to the wire, but don't be surprised if someone from another division (ahem, Braves) sneaks in last minute and steals the Wild Card. But I’ll take the Brew Crew to win the Central due to their quality starting pitching and lethal 3-4 of Braun-Fielder. Plus, one single injury won’t kill them. Imagine if Votto went down for Cincy? They’d be toast. The Cards have an even more deadly 3-4 of Pujols-Matt Holliday, but the Wainwright injury is going to keep them from October.
Chicago is eerily similar to the Mets. Both teams have talent, but much of the talent they have is overpaid, aging and/or banged up. The Cubbies need to start anew, because they aren't ending the drought with this cast.
Houston has a few young players, but it's never a good sign when washed-up Carlos Lee is hitting cleanup.
It seems that we all say the same thing about Pittsburgh every year: "Wow, the Bucs had a good draft, got some new young talent on this club, they can be all right." Yet, it never materializes. The Pirates do have some nice young bats, but the rotation is a joke.