Siberian Baseball

Saturday, March 31, 2007

National League Preview

The National League - they do know there's a lot of money to be had by fielding talented, competitive ballclubs, right?

We're looking at you, Chicago. And we can see through your little spending spree - Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis do not guarantee a championship, no matter how much you hope that will happen.

The NL West looks interesting on paper with the Diamondbacks poised to make a comeback from the cellar, but much of that will depend on how Randy Johnson's return to the desert pans out.

The East is also up for grabs right now with the Mets and Phillies ready to duke it out. Gone are the days of Atlanta's unending dominance and the Phillies were a lot better than most people gave them credit for, even with an impressive record last season.

The Central is a weird division again, with no clear-cut favorite aside from the Cardinals, but they weren't world-beaters last year. Take Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite away from Houston and it's a new season down there, but I can't in good conscience hand the title to the Cubs based on the off-season fiscal orgy without any solid pitching - sound familiar Twins fans?

NL East

The Sexy Pick: Phillies with their young talent and a division in flux.

The Smart Money Pick: Mets, assuming Pedro Martinez comes back sooner versus later and they get production from a lineup built to hit. Shawn Green, Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, David Wright and Carlos Delagado are all set for Opening Night. You could do a lot worse than that, even on a fantasy team.

My Picks:

New York Mets (1st 97-65)
Philadelphia Phillies (2nd 85-77)
Florida Marlins (4th 78-84)
Atlanta Braves (3rd 79-83)
Washington Nationals (5th 71-91)

NL Central

The Sexy Pick: Chicago's lineup has the potential to bash with the best of them, but unless they're willing to settle for plenty of football scores this season, they just don't have the horses in the rotation.

If they keep Carlos Zambrano, there's a chance that some of their young arms could be the core of a contender, just not now.

The Brewers are also poised to make a strong run this year after a few false starts from their young group in the field. Keep an eye on Cory Hart, who was given a spot in the outfield and Bill Hall, who will be switching positions to make room in the infield.

The Smart Money Pick:

It's chalk, but the Cardinals are the only proven team standing anymore. The Cubs, Brewers and Reds are on the cusp, but haven't proven anything yet. Houston isn't the same team that went to the World Series against the White Sox and the Pirates are hopeless right now.

Much like the AL Central, where you have to look at the teams and try to rank them where every club could contend, the NL Central has a bushel of contenders as well. It's more of a case of, "OK, who wants it? Anyone? Anyone?" here.

My Picks:

St. Louis Cardinals (1st 83-78)
Milwaukee Brewers (4th 75-87)
Chicago Cubs (6th 66-96)
Houston Astros (2nd 82-80)
Cincinnati Reds (3rd 80-82)
Pittsburgh Pirates (5th 67-95)

NL West

The Sexy Pick: The Diamondbacks with Johnson's return and big production from Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Eric Byrnes, among others. Another wide open division. Another guess as to how it will shake out over the course of a long season.

The Smart Money Pick: The Padres with a strong (but not great) pitching staff in a pitchers' park and an experienced team, are the safe pick here, but the Dodgers can also make a run, depending on how healthy they stay. When all is said and done, I'll take any team whose ballpark favors pitching with Greg Maddux on the staff.

My Picks:

San Diego Padres (1st 88-74)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2nd 88-74)
Arizona Diamondbacks (4th 76-86)
San Francisco Giants(3rd 76-85)
Colorado Rockies (5th 76-86)

The Round Up

That leaves The Mets, Cardinals and Padres (hmm... that sounds familiar) with the Phillies picking up the Wild Card berth.

(Photo from



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