Friday’s NL Central Review

11 04 2008

St. Louis Cardinals (7-3), — GB

The St. Louis Cardinals have done nothing but impress the first couple weeks of the season. They are holding first place in the NL Central by a half game over the Brewers and the Cubs. How have they done it? Their pitching staff has been lights out. Kyle Lohse has yet to give up an earned run this season. Who would have guessed that? Albert Pujols and the offense has started out a bit slow, but their pitching has tempered that problem. I, unfortunately, do not see the pitching staff keeping this pace up. Adam Wainwright is extremely solid and will put up good numbers, but I don’t see everyone else keeping it up.

Yesterday, they started their 4-game series against the San Francisco Giants. They lost the first game 5-1 against the Giants in San Fran. Wainwright got saddled with the loss. Kyle Lohse will take on Barry Zito tonight in Game 2.

  • You know how Dayn Perry from FOX Sports does not like the Milwaukee Brewers very much. That has been well-chronicled. It turns out that he does not care for the St. Louis Cardinals either. He shares the same thoughts as me: the starting pitching will not be able to hold up. Here’s his article.
  • Anthony Reyes has looked very solid this year. Some of the Cardinals fans are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel concerning him. Viva el Birdos points out that Reyes always does this to Cardinals fans. He gets everyone’s hopes up, just to let you down. El Birdos asks, Why Can’t I Quit You?

Chicago Cubs (6-3), 0.5 GB

The Chicago Cubs started out losing two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers. People like David Pinto were commenting that there was nothing to get too excited about concerning the Cubs. What have they done since then? Oh, just gone on an absolute tear. It was an ugly sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but a sweep nonetheless. In the first two games against the Pirates, the games went 12 and 15 innings, respectively. Kosuke Fukudome has been nothing but spectacular to start the season. He’s certainly lived up to the hype that followed him into the U.S. I’ve been very impressed with him. He looks a lot like Ichiro at the plate.

Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs begin their series in Philadelphia tonight against the Phillies. Zambrano will take the mound against Brett Myers.

  • Bleed Cubbie Blue discusses the value that Jon Lieber has brought to the team. I agreed with the first comment made in the article. I was very confused as to why the Cubs needed Lieber. He has been fairly impressive thus far, however, and he provides quality depth for the starting rotation and in the bullpen. It’s been a nice acquisition for the Cubs.
  • One of the most annoying things about the Cubs has been their treatment of Felix Pie. Part of me is pleased that he has not become the quality outfielder he is capable of being, but the other part of me is saddened by the fact that Lou Piniella refuses to give Felix a chance to develop. Perhaps he is better off in Triple-A to get more seasoning? Either way, I agree with Another Cubs Blog when they say that Lou Piniella is a moron in how he is handling Pie.

Cincinnati Reds (6-4), 1.0 GB

The Cincinnati Reds have quietly moved into second place in the division. Well, not-so-quietly if you are a Milwaukee Brewers fan. Their offense has not necessarily found their groove yet, which is scary to think about. I suppose the same can be said about Milwaukee’s offense, but I digress. The biggest news out of Cincinnati has been about their young pitching phenoms, Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez. Cueto handled the Brewers quite easily on Tuesday, striking out eight batters in seven innings of work. He looks gooooooooood. I have not gotten the chance to see Volquez pitch to this point, but I understand that he is looking very fine as well. Both are young power arms that need to not be abused by Dusty Baker early in the season. Still, the Reds look to have a nice influx of young pitchers ready to make a big impact on the major league team (especially if you include Homer Bailey in that list).

The Cincinnati Reds travel to Pittsburgh to start the first of their three-game series against the Pirates. The Pirates’ pitching staff has been gassed in the last couple games against the Chicago Cubs, so I fully expect another series win for the Reds. I would not be the least bit surprised if they sweep them. Edinson Volquez will take the mound tonight to lead the Reds.

  • One of the biggest weaknesses on past Reds teams has been their anemic bullpen. They signed Francisco Cordero to a big four-year deal to sure-up the back end of the ‘pen, but the rest has been a crap shoot. It turns out that the Reds are on a hot streak with these pitchers. Nobody expected it. The Red Reporter is even flabbergasted as to how the bullpen has been performing. Hopefully, that does not continue for the Crews’ sake.
  • The Cincinnati Reds FanHouse is clamoring for attention for Aaron Harang. They are quite correct that he has slipped under the radar concerning the best pitchers in the league. Brewers fans know how good he is though. He flat-out owns the Milwaukee Brewers, as was evidenced yesterday when he pitched eight innings of one-run ball to get the series win. I actually think that Harang is better served flying under the radar. Let him produce. He does not need the media glorification. The guy is a stud regardless.

Pittsburgh Pirates (3-6), 3.5 GB

As I said earlier, the Pirates lost a couple of extra-inning heartbreakers against the Chicago Cubs this past week. Their pitching has not been very good thus far, especially their bullpen. Their offense has their bright spots, however. Xavier Nady has been absolutely on fire, batting .308 with 3 home runs and a .378 on-base percentage. Pirates fans have to be happy about that. Ian Snell has been decent so far, going 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA. Nothing spectacular. I do look for him to turn the corner sometime this season and become the ace of the staff. Tom Gorzelanny is not the answer.

Paul Maholm will lead the Pirates against the Cincinnati Reds this weekend.  The bullpen is absolutely gassed after having to pitch so much in those two extra-innings games, and I do not see them being able to keep up with the Reds, who are heating up.

  • Another pitcher who has been solid this season has been Tyler Yates.  The Pirates picked him up from the Atlanta Braves during the off-season, and he’s shown goods stuff.  The Bucs Dugout looks at Yates a little closer.
  • Bucco Blog is not happy with Ryan Doumit.  That is not surprising.  His defense is just plain awful.  Not to mention his name sounds a little too much like “dammit” for my liking.  It almost sounds like I’m swearing at him for simply coming up to bat.  I’m already getting mad at him by just saying his name.  Never a good sign.

Houston Astros (3-7), 4.0 GB

There were a lot of people (myself included) that thought the Houston Astros could start of the season extremely hot because of their potentially-potent offense.  It turns out that their offense has not quite caught on fire yet, and their pitching is just as bad as advertised.  The Astros gave up a couple wins to the St. Louis Cardinals this week, and Jose Valverde blew a save.  You do not trade away prospects and Chad Qualls for someone that is going to blow saves.  Still, they do have a chance to catch fire if their offense can produce.  If they do stay in this funk, however, you can expect Ed Wade to consider hosting a little fire-sale nearing the trade deadline.  They may need to switch to rebuilding mode.

Roy Oswalt will try to turn things around against the Florida Marlins at home this weekend.  He pitches Game 1 tonight.  It shows how far the Astros have fallen when I do not even know who to pick in this series.

  • The Crawfish Boxes is a blog that is a little depressed with the start of the season.  They resorted to an article that is supposed to make people feel a little better about the horrendous start to the season.  They have the highest stolen base total in the major leagues and they are second in fielding percentage.  That’s great.  At least they are trying to be optimistic.
  • The only thing that The Astros Dugout could be proud of after the series against the St. Louis Cardinals was the fact that the Astros pitchers helped Albert Pujols break out of his hitting slump.  Again, at least they are pretending they have something to be proud of.

I had a couple of suggestions that said they would like to see more about the NL Central teams.  Unfortunately, I do not have the time to continuously update during the week, but I can take a little time on Fridays to update everyone on the happenings and to post a couple reads per team.  Tell me how you like it!  I’m not going to continue this series if no one wants to read it, so please comment and tell me if this is something you want to see.

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5 responses

11 04 2008
BJ

I really like your Friday wrap-up! Its a great read and its nice to read about the rest of the NL central and keep tabs on who’s doing what! Keep up the great work!

11 04 2008
JP

Good read. I’m an Astros fan and stumbled upon your blog. I enjoy reading thoughts and comments from rivals. Keep it up!

12 04 2008
brewersnation

No one else would like to see this next week?

12 04 2008
Dan

I was the guy that mentioned the NL central wrap up in your suggestion post. This was a fantastic wrap up.. Just the sort of stuff to keep my eye on the other guys. I hope you’re hearing some other good things, because its stuff like this and your other posts that keep me coming back here and not else where. Thanks!

12 04 2008
Maddog

Thanks for the link. I also enjoyed the NL Central Review. Good stuff.

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