Predictions are tough. Mostly because I have no way of knowing exactly when Adam Wainwright’s arm will fall off.
That being said, people love to look at them. As much as hope spring eternal and everybody loves to believe their team has some chance of making the playoffs, they also really want to see where the “experts” think their team will finish. Well isn’t the journey part of the fun?! Don’t spoil it for me and tell me how it’s going to end! Let’s see how it plays out!
That being said, my quick thoughts around the division are as follows…
1. St. Louis Cardinals – I’m not sure I can pick any team other than the Cardinals to win this division again. Ever. Each season I look over the Cardinals roster and think “Ya, they’ve got a couple nice pieces. But… meh.” And then every damned year there they are at the top of the division again. So I may as well pick them. I know they lost some guy named Albert something-or-other who I heard was pretty decent. But, again, they’re always there at the end of the season. Perhaps new manager Mike Matheny doesn’t have the same deal with the devil that Tony LaRussa had, however.
2. Cincinnati Reds – Is this the 3rd year in a row that the Reds come into the season with high expectations? So far it hasn’t really materialized, but I’m interested to see what might happen with a full season from starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, new closer Sean Marshall, and sluggers Jay Bruce and Joey Votto.
3. Milwaukee Brewers – I just don’t see how this team competes this year. Losing Prince Fielder seems too huge to me. Who’s going to protect Ryan Braun in the lineup? Jonathan Lucroy? That being said, they still have some nice arms on that staff. Zach Greinke. Shaun Marcum. Yovani Gallardo.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates – I am a child of the 70s (80s, really, but let’s go with this…) and I would love nothing more to see the Pirates return to relevancy. They came a long way last year, leading the division headed into the summer months before fading. Signing center fielder Andrew McCutchen to a long-term deal was a major step forward for a team whose front office makes some questionable moves. (A.J. Burnett? Really?) But it’s too early. We may need to wait a year or two before some of those big arms come up.
5. Chicago Cubs – Theo Epstein has already achieved God status for bringing a World Series Championship back to the city of Boston. Trying to do the same in Chicago isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but losing fewer than 100 games may be the best he can hope for in 2012. The biggest story-line for the Cubs this season will be watching for Brett Jackson’s call-up, and the imminent trade of Matt Garza.
6. Houston Astros – I don’t even know where to start, so I won’t.