Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 NL CENTRAL PREVIEW


Chicago Cubs:
The Cubbies are coming off a season in which they won a shitload of regular season games but again failed in the postseason. It's now been over a 100 years since the Lovable Losers from the Northside won the World Series but who's counting? Oh yeah, everybody. The Cubs should have one of the best rotations in baseball this year with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, and Sean Marshall all capable of winning over 15 games a piece with healthy seasons. Any time you have a pitcher with the talent of Harden as your 4th starter then there really is no excuse for the Cubs to struggle this year.

The lineup should be solid too with Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez providing plenty of power in the middle of the order and a healthy Alfonso Soriano adding plenty of plus power from the leadoff spot. Geovany Soto had an excellent rookie season and should continue to improve in his 2nd season. New guy Milton Bradley is coming off his best season ever and is a hobbling time bomb at Wrigley. I have a feeling the Cubs faithful are not going to have fun with this Milton Bradley game. The middle of the defense is decent with Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Kosuke Fukudome but none of them will be feared. It's a good thing the pitching should be excellent including a bullpen with Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, Aaron Heilman, and Jeff Samardzija all capable of mowing down hitters.

Cincinnati Reds:
The Reds have a team with a ton of upside in young pitchers Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Micah Owings. If 2 or 3 of them come into their own then the Reds could be a team to look out for in 2009. Bailey needs to throw strikes or he could be relagated to the bullpen. He has the stuff and the talent to be a dominating starter but he has to throw strike one. Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo both need to bounce back from bad 2008 seasons. If they do then the Reds could have the best starting rotation in the National League if the younger guns live up to some of their hype.

Their lineup is nothing to shout about but I do like Jay Bruce and Joey Votto as future All-Stars for years to come. Those two should continue to grow and prosper in Cincinnati but they need more pieces around them for protection. Brandon Phillips is an above average second baseman but all of their other position players are average or below.

The Reds have the potential to surprise a lot of people in 2009 if the pitching comes together. I wouldn't bet on it but I also wouldn't be shocked to see them contend. 2010 could be a special season for the Reds.

Houston Astros:
Roy Oswalt is one of the best pitchers in the game but after him the Astros have little to nothing. Wandy Rodriguez and a washed up Mike Hampton are the #2 and #3 starters. Holy shit! That is bad, real bad. The lineup isn't bad with Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence but Miguel Tejada is diminishing faster than you can you say B-12. Ivan Rodriguez is old and still catching.

The Stros are going to be bad. Very bad. If they played in the AL East they would finish with the worst record in baseball.

Milwaukee Brewers:
The Brew Crew are coming off their first playoff appearance since 1982. They have a lineup filled with excellent hitters in J.J. Hardy, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart. Mike Cameron should catch a lot of balls in centerfield. He will also be chasing a lot of balls with the Brewers losing both starting pitchers C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets to free agency.

The pitching could be atrocious for the Brewers and the defense isn't very good either. The Brewers will score a ton of runs but they will give up even more. They got hit hard by free agency but should be a fun team to watch.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
The Pirates have been horrible for so long(16 years now) yet they still don't have a good farm system which means the current ownership has no idea how to run a successful ship. It's sad because the Pirates should be good. They have a great ballpark, loyal fans and an established history of past greats. But the ownership has no idea what they are doing. They should just let Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen take their lumps in the big leagues and grow the team from those two.

The Pirates will be one of the worst teams in 2009 and unfortunately it doesn't look like it will get any better in 2010 and beyond.

St. Louis Cardinals:
Never count out the Cardinals especially with proven winners Tony Larussa and Dave Duncan back managing a club that surprised a ton of people in 2008 including myself. They still have the best player in the game in Albert Pujols. He should have another MVP season. Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick are in their peak years and should continue to produce for the Redbirds. The middle infield looks questionable with new guy Khalil Greene expected to bounce back from an off 2008 season. Greene has a hell of a glove so maybe he could be the white, long haired version of the Wizard of Oz.

Duncan did a hell of a job last season with the pitching staff. Adam Wainwright will be the ace of the staff and Kyle Lohse should continue to build off a very successful 2008 season. If Chris Carpenter can come back then the Cardinals could be serious contenders for the division with the Cubs. 2009 should be very interesting in Busch Stadium. If the pitching holds together then watch out. Also keep an eye out for the debut of Colby Rasmus. He has 5 tool skills and should be the Cardinals center fielder of the future.

Sportscrack NL Central predictions:

1. Chicago Cubs

2. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Cincinnati Reds

4. Milwaukee Brewers

5. Houston Astros

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

MVP: Albert Pujols
Rookie of the Year: Colby Rasmus
Coach of the Year: Lou Piniella

THE 49ERS AND MIKE SINGLETARY HAVE ISSUES WITH VIVA LA MATTHEW STAFFORD


Looks like the San Francisco Dipshits are really doing their homework on Matthew Stafford. Never mind that they are picking 10th and he will be long gone before they can select him...

Niners head coach Mike Singletary told KNBR (680 AM) in San Francisco this week that “if you’re going to look at drafting a guy in the first round, and you’re going to pay him millions of dollars, and asking him about a divorce about his parents, if that’s going to be an issue, uhhh, then you know what, maybe he doesn’t belong here.”

Stafford, a potential first-round draft pick, told the Detroit Free Press that the psychologist presumed Stafford had “unfinished business” about his parents’ split in high school.

Is Singletary fucking serious? They won't draft a guy because he might have an issue with his parent's divorce! The 49ers used to be the pillar of what all NFL franchises wanted to be when they had Joe Montana winning Super Bowls left and right. If Bill Walsh would have thought the way Singletary does then maybe the 49ers wouldn't have drafted Montana because he likes to masturbate upstairs.

If you don't get the Montana masturbating joke then look it up. I'm too lazy to explain it.

POLICE BREAK UP NOTRE DAME PARTY


Via The Onion....

SOUTH BEND, IN—While patrolling the University of Notre Dame campus Friday night, officer Robert Mueller disrupted a party taking place at 131 Frances St. out of sheer pity for its attendees. "At approximately 10:30 p.m., I observed two minors awkwardly drinking beers on the porch outside their home," Mueller wrote in his report of the pathetic infraction. "After approaching the suspects, I immediately scanned the area for rowdy or disorderly conduct, the smell of marijuana smoke, or any signs of possible fun and, finding none, decided to take decisive action. That party was a goddamn embarrassment." Although Mueller felt so sorry for the partygoers that he couldn't bring himself to contact their parents, the relieved college sophomores said they would never forget the crazy night when their Numb3rs viewing party was busted up by the cops.


ND head of security Cappy approves of this message...

CHIPPER JONES RESIGNS, GARY SHEFFIELD RELEASED


It's funny how some things work out in Major League Baseball. Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield are both having Hall of Fame careers yet one just signed an extension to keep him a lifelong Brave and another guy just got released less than a week before the season starts and only 1 home run short of 500.

Chipper who is 36 years old is the only switch hitter in Major League history to bat over .300(.310 currently) with 300 plus home runs in his career. His 408 long balls trails only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray in career home runs for a switch hitter. The guy has been banging home runs in Atlanta almost as long as he has been banging Hooters waitresses on the road. I'm sure one of those girls gave him a STD which he used as his excuse for his chronic hamstring injury (translation: herpes flare up) but he is a ballplayer. Did you honestly expect him not to bang them? Didn't think so. He was rewarded for his loyalty to the Braves franchise today by receiving a 3 year contract extension that will pay him handsomely. He can basically order as many Hooters wings and servers as he wants. I'm going to be completely honest with you the readers. I like Chipper. He seems like a good teammate and he has taken less money or deferred it in the past to stay in Atlanta and field a competitive team. This includes renegotiating his contract in order to get better players in Atlanta. Essentially the antithesis of Tom Glavine. Chipper is not a me first player and I respect that.

On the other hand you have Gary Sheffield. The 41 year old designated hitter has worn out his welcome in every city he has played in. Whether it be as a loud mouth know it all in Milwaukee, San Diego, Florida, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and now Detroit, Sheffield has always left on bad terms. Don't get me wrong, the guy is a hell of a hitter. I used to emulate his swing with his hands rocking back and forth. But the guy is just an arrogant ME first type of player. The 9-time All Star sits just one home run short of 500 for his career and he is released. That should tell it all. Detroit is missing out on the publicity of Sheffield hitting the historic mark by eating his $14 million in salary just so he will go away. His productivity has declined dramatically with his age but you would think if Sheffield was a good guy then the Tigers would have kept him around. It's a shame and I wonder how the writers who vote for the Hall of Fame will view him. Personally I think he is a Hall of Fame player. His on base percentage is near 40 percent and he has been a serious RBI threat for over 15 years. I would think some team has to pick up Sheffield even if he is a pain in the ass. The publicity of 500 home runs is too much to ignore. I got my fingers crossed for the New York Mets!

THE WTF BLANKET



Video HT: Brant