[MLB] 2010 Season Preview: The NL

National League East:

Divisional Run-Down:

The Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series and got all the way to the 2009 series, only to fall to the Yankees. They traded for Roy Halladay in the offseason, but traded away Cliff Lee in the process. They have one of the feistiest lineups and great bullpen. They are a lock for the playoffs. The Atlanta Braves probably have the best rotation from top to bottom in the East and Jason Heyward is going to be fun to watch at the plate and in right field.  The New York Mets opened up Citi Field with one of their ost exceptionally embarrassing seasons ever. They added big bopper Jason Bay, pitcher Kelvim Escobar, and first basemen Mike Jacobs. But, besides Johan Santana, their rotation isn’t striking (pun intended) fear into anyone’s heart.

The Florida Marlins have a very young and inexperienced lineup besides the always nasty Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla. They only have one scary pitcher in Josh Johnson and should have a rather long season unless(like past seasons) their unproven guys can step up big time. The work in progress that is the Washington Nationals is taking longer than their fans probably want. This season, they might actually have a chance to make some noise in the East as long as Stephen Strasburgh ends up on the big club and is as good as advertised. They have a decent, veteran lineup and should be able to score some runs. Their overall pitching might prove to be their undoing as none of their starters has a great resume besides Jason Marquis

Predicted Order of Finish:

1.)    Philadelphia (95-99 wins)

2.)    Atlanta (90-95 wins)

3.)    New York (85-90 wins)

4.)    Florida (75-80 wins)

5.)    Washington (65-70 wins)

National League Central:

Divisional Run-Down:

The St. Louis Cardinals easily won the Central last season with 91 wins. I feel that they can win even more games this year with their potent lineup including Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwick. Besides Jaime Garcia (who I know nothing about), their rotation is pretty scary. If we see the best of Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny, they will beterrifying. The Milwaukee Brewers lost Ben Sheets in the offseason, but they still have a lot of the tools to compete in the Central. This is a veteran team in all facets including a bench of Craig Counsell, Jim Edmonds and Jody Gerut. They have a great rotation and a solid Bullpen led by Trevor Hoffman. Ryan Braun is one of the quietest superstars in baseball. The Chicago Cubs have seen the 100th anniversary of their last World Series win come and go. Their fans are the most patient in sports. Sadly, they are going to have to keep waiting. They have a decent team, but the NL Central looks to be the most competitive in all of baseball. They have a good lineup, albeit an aging lineup. They have a good rotation, but I think their bullpen will do them in.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have of one of the most exciting players in baseball that nobody has ever heard of. Outfield Garret Jones hit 21 dingers (while batting .293) in only 82 games after getting called up from AAA. He spent years toiling in the minors for the Twins after being unable to find his way onto the big club. He’s 28 and he’s finally made it. He hit two homers on opening day.

The Cincinnati Reds season hinges on the health of Edinson Volquez. In 2008, he went 17-8 with 3.21 ERA and was an All-Star. Last season, he only made nine starts due to injury. This year, he’s recovering from elbow surgery and a timetable for his return is still unknown. With him they will compete, without him they should start thinking about their October plans. The Houston Astros are not as bad as a 6th ranked team should be. They could easily compete in this division. That’s why I’ve have so much trouble with the Central. Roy Oswalt, when healthy, can be dominant. The ‘Stros have a great bullpen led by Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom. Carlos Lee and Lance Berman are still smacking the ball over the wall at Minute Made Park.

Predicted Order of Finish:

1.)    St. Louis (95-97 wins)

2.)    Milwaukee (90-93 wins)

3.)    Chicago (88-90 wins)

4.)    Pittsburgh (80-83 wins)

5.)    Cincinnati (68-75 wins)

6.)    Houston (65-70 wins)

National League West:

Divisional Run-Down:

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West with 95 wins last season. Their rotation is very good other than Charlie Haeger who I know absolutely nothing about. They still have Manny Ramirez slamming yackers into Mannywood aswell as one of the most potent line ups in the NL. The San Francisco Giants season hinges on the play of Barry Zito. He’s made one start and he went six scoreless innings for the win. They brought in Mark Derosa and Aubrey Huff and Pablo “kung fu panda” Sandoval is straight dirty.

The Colorado Rockies won the wildcard last year and could easily win that again if not the whole NL West. Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa and Ubaldo Jimenez are all potential All-Stars. Their lineup is full of offensive fireworks. If closer Huston Street can get and stay healthy, they will challenge for the division.

The Arizona Diamonbacks were pretty bad last season. They even finished below the Padres. Now that’s bad. On paper, they look better than the San Deegz. Dan Haren is one of the best pitchers in baseball but the rotation is full of questionable starters that may or may not pan out. They have a decent lineup including Mark “I strike out more than anyone ever, but I hit a TON of bombs” Reynolds. They won’t make the playoffs, especially after having to face the top three teams so often. The San Diego Padres could surprise some people, but I doubt it. Jon Garland and Chris Young are their best pitchers, but they would be the third of fourth starter on most teams. Adrian Gonzalez is one of the best pure hitters in baseball, but he doesn’t have much to back him up. Teams might as well walk him every time he’s up with runners on base. Heath Bell is a great closer, but he won’t get a lot of chances with this lineup.

Predicted Order of Finish:

1.)    Los Angeles (95-98 wins)

2.)    San Francisco (94-96 wins)

3.)    Colorado (91-94 wins)

4.)    Arizona (70-75 wins)

5.)    San Diego (65-70 wins)

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