Friday, April 8, 2011

S1 NL North Predictions

By Jefepwnzer

NL North

Milwaukee Brewers

Starting 9: Milwaukee will feature an average at best offense in Season 1. Center fielder Pedro Pulido, third baseman Lyle Long and catcher Keith Stevenson are dependable bats but there isn't much support for them. Pulido, Long second baseman Edgar Crespo all have power, which may be the only way the Brewers push runs across the plate this season.

Pitching staff: Diego Carrasco and Jamey Ransom should prove to be two solid arms for the Crew for this season. David Iwazaki can hold his own in the later innings and can be trusted with closing games late. From top to bottom, though, Milwaukee's staff is at best average and may have trouble preventing most opponents from scoring.

The future: Reliever prospects Howie Hollins and Kenneth White top the Brewers list of pitching prospects. If he reaches his projections Hollins could be a fringe starter if Milwaukee ends up needing an impact arm in the rotation. Kiki Lee is another exciting prospect who looks to be able to play a number of positions while possessing a solid bat. He has speed as well, but will need to fully develop his base running skills if he wants to be a top base stealer.

Chicago Cubs - 

Starting 9: One of the top hitters in the league, first baseman Geraldo Romano heads a Cubs offense that may struggle to score runs this season. He will get decent support from Nipsey Holzemer but it looks to be a two man show for the Cubs. Center fielder Bob Richard provides the elite speed that most teams wished but may not get on base consistently enough to prove effective. 

Pitching staff: Santos Gonzalez and Roger Baker are two of the more promising young pitchers in the game, Santos will likely be the ace of the staff this season. Unfortunately for Chicago there is a drop-off in talent after the youngsters as far as starting pitchers go, and the Cubs success will likely go as these two go. If rookie Lyle Bell can address his control issues he could be one of the best relievers in the league. Even if Gonzalez and Baker are able to produce magical seasons there's just not enough pitching talent in Chicago for the Cubs to be successful this season.
The future: Neftali Pena has a future as a lights out closer and should make his debut no later than Season 3. Jerry Walsh will likely prove to be a dependable starter once he hits the bigs and will be a major upgrade over some of the current starters. 

Montreal Expos -

Starting 9: Alving Morales brings a number of tools to the Expos offense, not only figuring to hit for average but also to be a major threat on the basepaths. He is joined by Billy Ray Rocker and slugger Grover Lesher as the top bats on the team. Beyond these three, though, the rest of the Expos offense average at best. 

Pitching staff: Montreal's saving grace may be their top three starting pitchers. Preseason Cy Young candidate Eduardo Amaro, Wilton Shea and Hawk Cummings are one of the strongest trios of starting pitchers in the game. Amos Buckley should be a dependable long reliever and closer Jamie Stokes should be a rock in the 9th. Overall this is the strongest pitching staff in the division and may be able to makeup for the lack of talent in the order for Montreal.

The future: The Expos have a bevy of relief prospects in their system in addition to SP prospect Reagan Green. The collection of relief prospects here should mean an airtight bullpen for Montreal.

Cincinnati Reds - 
Starting 9: Three top end hitters lead the way for the Reds in Season 1. Jin-Chi Jiang, Pepper Combs and Tsuyoshi Chen should produce most of the offense in Cincinnati. Chen and Combs are both true catchers so finding playing time for both may be a tough proposition. It's likely that one of them will have to spend some time at first base in order to squeeze both into the lineup. Robbie Swann has power and should provide good support on an offense that is arguably the best in the division. 

Pitching staff: Subject of much controversy during Spring Training, Michel Santos is your pre season NL Cy Young favorite and ace of the Reds staff. Teddy Henderson is capable of logging many effective innings as the #2 in the rotation. Backing the starters is a strong closer in Bert Workman, who will likely have plenty of opportunities to get the save when Santos or Henderson pitch. 

The future: As if having Santos and Henderson weren't enough, the Reds can look forward to David Rios and Brook Dodd being part of the rotation. Nash Flanagan is a top third base prospect who projects to have plus power. Don't be surprised if he makes an appearance late in Season 2, with an assured debut in Season 3.

How they will finish - The Reds and Expos should have a good battle for the division this season. The pitching in Montreal is better from top to bottom than that of the Reds, while the Reds offense is better than the Expos overall. This is probably the toughest division to call. Whoever finishes runner up will likely earn a wildcard spot.


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