Friday’s NL Central Review

25 04 2008

Chicago Cubs (15-7), — GB

This has been an enormous week for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies have taken over first place in the NL Central by having a six-game win streak to overtake the St. Louis Cardinals. Alfonso Soriano has made his way to the DL, but it has not seemed to faze Chicago. In fact, many analysts have claimed that the Cubs have played better without Soriano because they now have a true lead-off hitter. The team has a whole has been mashing the ball this week, and the team looks to be in mid-season form. Let’s take a look as to what the bloggers are saying.

  • Bleed Cubbie Blue asks whether or not Alfonso Soriano should even be on the team any longer. One reader suggests that the Cubs should offer Soriano for Philadelphia’s Pat Burrell and a pitcher like Cole Hamels. It is an interesting idea, but I have a feeling the deal would fall flat on its face. The Phillies are shopping Burrell because they want to drop his contract, so why would the Phillies pick up a monstrous contract like Soriano’s? Secondly, Cole Hamels is going nowhere. In fact, it would probably take more than Soriano to pry Hamels away from Philadelphia. I think it could be an interesting idea to shop Soriano. That will not happen though.
  • More on Alfonso Soriano. The View From the Bleachers talks about comments made by Chicago’s third base coach, Mike Quade. He says that there is something not right about Soriano since he got injured last season. Soriano has definitely lost a step on the basepaths. It causes Quade to rethink telling him to round third base. TVFB thinks that Chicago will have Quade retract his comments, but Cubs fans should be worried about Soriano if that is true.
  • Goat Riders of the Apocalypse writes a ground breaking piece. If the Cubs give up more runs in the middle innings of the game, they have a better chance of losing. Really? Amazing.

St. Louis Cardinals (14-9), 1.5 GB

The Cardinals have been playing .500 baseball since starting out absolutely on fire. .500 baseball is all St. Louis needs to play right now, however, especially in the Central. The Cards lead the major leagues in walks with 115 walks. 115 walks. That is plate discipline right there. Todd Wellemeyer is tied for second most strikeouts with 31. Yes, Todd Wellemeyer. The same Todd Wellemeyer that had 60 strikeouts all of last season. What world am I living in right now? The same world where Kyle Lohse has a 2.54 ERA when he has a career 4.77 ERA. They are certainly playing some good baseball right now

  • Viva El Birdos discusses the issues with the middle infield. What would be the problem you ask? The Cardinals have Cesar Izturis, Adam Kennedy, and Aaron Miles starting at shortstop and second base. Nobody is extremely excited with those names. The author says that Kennedy and Miles have been playing fairly well, but none of the three have any real power. He argues that hitters have to have some sort of power threat to keep major league pitchers honest. Brendan Ryan looks to be a boost for the middle infield, but those players leave a lot to be desired in the middle.
  • Rockin’ the Red looks at some of the possibilities to play the middle infield outside the organization. Many of the options are top prospects in other organizations, and Michael Young seems to be a long shot. I don’t see any of these options happening unless the Cardinals are willing to make a void in their starting lineup right now. Their farm system is not deep enough to offer any real blue chip prospects there, so they would have to offer the likes of Brad Thompson or Anthony Reyes. It would be wise to try though.
  • ESPN.com says that Albert Pujols is the most feared hitter in the major leagues. No kidding.

Houston Astros (11-12), 4.5 GB

The Houston Astros have come out of the cellar in a big way. Last week’s NL Central Review essentially said that the Astros should be prepared to have a firesale in the summer. This week, the Astros come into tonight’s game winning five games in a row. My how the tone can change after a week. Miguel Tejada hit .469 last week. That’s not too shabby, especially for someone that has gotten a lot of heat after fans found out that he’s older than advertised. The offense has broken out as a whole though. The team has averaged 8.2 runs per game in the midst of this five game winning streak. The bloggers were disgusted last week. Let’s see what they are saying this week.

  • The Crawfish Boxes has pretty much all the statistical analysis you could ask for when breaking down this streak. Lance Berkman and Miguel Tejada are heating up. Roy Oswalt has finally looked like the ace that he is. Jose Valverde has been extremely shaky this entire year thus far, but he has looked much better. Hunter Pence looks to have broken out of his sophomore slump start. All in all, everything looks up for the Astros right now.
  • Houston Astros Baseball is going as far to say that Ed Wade deserves some praise for the moves he made this off-season. I don’t know I would go that far. Just because all the new players on the Astros contributed in one game, it does not mean that Ed Wade did a nice job. Kaz Matsui is still being paid way too much. Michael Bourn is a sleeper in my opinion, and Miguel Tejada is certainly still good. I don’t know about Brandon Backe and Jose Valverde. Time will tell though.

Pittsburgh Pirates (9-13), 6.0 GB

The Pirates are chugging along in standard Pittsburgh form. They are okay, but certainly not good. Okay, that may be a little harsh. The comment does hold some credence though, right? They got swept by the Chicago Cubs, and split games with the Florida Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. There is no shame to getting swept by the Cubs right now though, as they are playing very good baseball. Pittsburgh looks to turn it around this weekend against the Philadelphia Phillies.

  • Bucs Dugout wants to know what is wrong with Tom Gorzelanny. The velocity is not there, and the results are certainly not there. I think the blogger puts it nicely. The fact that fans are hoping that John van Benschoten pitches over Gorzelanny shows that the team is having problems. I personally wonder if there are some arm problems brewing in Gorzelanny’s shoulder. He had a huge innings increase last season, and the team shut him down for a while during Spring Training because of discomfort in his shoulder. The team should consider getting his shoulder looked at.
  • Do you remember when Pittsburgh bloggers were yelling for Ryan Doumit to be benched because his defense is so bad? Apparently his offense is more than making up for it, as there are articles being written about how Doumit is making the most of his playing time. Read the article and make up your own mind. Should Doumit be behind the plate for the Pirates?

Cincinnati Reds (9-14), 6.5 GB

The Reds have had a rough couple of weeks. They have hired a new GM in Walt Jocketty to turn the franchise around. In case you had not heard, the Reds former GM got fired this week because the team has failed to live up to expectations thus far this season. They lost 2 out of 3 to the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend, they split with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they got swept by the hot Houston Astros. Bronson Arroyo has been impressively awful this season, and even he does not understand why he is struggling. That is not a good sign for goldilocks. Perhaps big Adam Dunn and the Reds will be able to break out of their slump this week. They will try this weekend against the lowly San Francisco Giants. That’s a good way to start a streak.

  • Here’s an article on the Walt Jocketty hiring (courtesy the Red Reporter).
  • Reds Insider takes a look at the possible call-ups of Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce. Should Dusty Baker and the Reds call up the phenoms? Dusty is just as anxious as everyone else to see the youngsters in the big leagues, but he understands the logistics of the call-ups. It is not beneficial to either of the players to get called up but not play. The Reds would much rather have the players shine in Triple-A and get called up when needed, rather than have them sit on the bench and lose valuable playing time.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. is quickly approaching a fantastic milestone. He is only three home runs away from No. 600. Good luck to you Mr. Griffey.
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2 responses

25 04 2008
PujolsDominates

Hey just checking out the website, pretty good stuff. But Walt Jocketty was not fired, he is replacing the guy that got fired as the GM. Agreed Pujols is the most feared hitter.

28 04 2008
BJ

Once again, a great review! Looking forward to the Brewer’s bats coming alive in Wrigley and knocking the Cubs down a notch or two this week!

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