FanPost

Pre-Spring NL Overview/Predictions


Well, it looks like most of the significant free agent acquisitions are over with, so I thought I'd cure some boredom by looking at what the NL will look like going into the season.  IMO, the league is divided into 3 types of teams: the favorites, the hopefuls, and the pipe dreams.

The Favorites: Atlanta, Philadelphia, L.A.D., and St. Louis.  Atlanta has the best rotation in the NL and a lineup filled with productive players.  They may have a hole at 1B, but other than that, if everyone stays healthy, they will make the playoffs.  Philly also features a stellar rotation and a productive lineup.  L.A. is just behind; the back end of the rotation is questionable.  St. Louis also has rotation questions  after replacing Pineiro with Brad Penny and obviously relying on a healthy season from Chris Carpenter; however, any lineup with Pujols and Holiday will produce runs.

 

The Hopefuls: Arizona, Chicago, Colorado, San Francisco.  Arizona has a fantastic 1-2-3 punch in Webb, Jackson, and Haren, but their offense lacks star power and the back-end of the rotation is questionable.  Chicago has the offense, but I think Marmol will be a bust as a full-time closer.  Colorado is a very interesting team; did their rotation overachieve last year, and will Francis be a comeback award candidate?  San Francisco can go a long way just with LIncecum and Cain, but their offense has some serious questions (Renteria is a mummy).

 

The Pipe Dreams: Cincy, Florida, Houston, Milwaukee, NYM, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Washington.  Cincinatti has some talent, but there are just too many questions in their rotation to justify a playoff appearance.  Florida still has Uggla, Ramirez, and Johnson, but for how long, and did their SP underachieve last year or overachieve?  I'll talk about Houston later.  Milwaukee is a team that I think should rebuild; patching in Wolf and Davis didn't improve their rotation enough to make them a postseason team.  The Mets lack the offensive firepower to produce enough runs.  Pittsburgh is by far the worst team in the league; I honestly believe Doumit is the only player they have who would start on a playoff team.  San Diego should also be rebuilding; why add Jon Garland (innings eater? false hope?)?  Washington is actually interesting; they have a few young guys who could surprise and added some pieces in free agency, but I still don't think their rotation is good enough to be above .500.

 

That brings me to the Astros.  This is hard to write, since I'm a huge Astros homer and typically way overly optimistic, but after comparing all these teams, I just don't see how Houston makes the postseason.  The weakness in the bottom of the lineup, the bottom of the rotation, and the lack of a viable closer points to a losing year.  Unfortunately, I think Myers, Norris, and Moehler/Paulino will all be below average pitchers this year, for various reasons.  Norris because the hitters will adjust, Myers b/c of injury, Moehler because of age, and Paulino, well, Paulino just because I don't believe he's going to blossom like most are hoping.  Matsui, Manzella, and Quintero/Towles present 3 poor hitters in the everyday lineup.  And, while I lauded the addition of Lyon and Lindstrom (I thought they were good moves given the financial constraints), neither of them is reliable enough to consistently close out games.  I think we're in for a long season (although we will finish ahead of Pittsburgh in the Central).  Somebody prove me wrong and give me some hope!

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