I am the Program Director at 1410 WING ESPN Radio in Dayton, Ohio...also host of Dayton Sports Scene weekdays at 5p! Find me on Twitter @ESPNMark!
NL Central 2012
by Mark Neal,posted Mar 26 2012 1:11PM
Today on Dayton Sports Scene, we will discuss the Reds as the 2012 regular season approaches. Here are my predicted standings for the NL Central...
1. St. Louis Cardinals...Big losses, on and off the field, in the off-season. No more Albert Pujols means finding new offense. Young players like David Freese and Allan Craig, as well as additions like Carlos Beltran may help in that catagory. The team returns stars like Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, and Lance Berkman, but Pujols is Pujols. Team also welcomes back former 20 game winner Adam Wainwright. They just win, and will win again in 2012...NL Central Division Champs!
2. Cincinnati Reds...Nice additions to the pitching staff, in the off season, helps in many ways. Mat Latos will be the #2 behind Jonny Cueto they wanted so badly. The injury to Ryan Madsen will hurt, and hurt bad. Sean Marshall will probably have to close games, removing him for his best role as the left-handed stopper. Young offensive question marks like Zach Cozart and Devin Mesoraco, as well as veteran question marks like Scott Rolen, make things interesting. If the team can score on the road, and against good pitching, they will win games. Too many offensive slumps will spell doom for the Reds...playoffs are a possibility.
3. Milwaukee Brewers...The reigning division winners took a major hit in the off season losing Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers. You can't replace his offense, but maybe as a team, they can come close. The Brew Crew dodged a major bullet getting 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun back 50 games earlier than they had expected, so that softens the blow. Either way, at home for the playoffs the Brewers will be in 2012.
4. Chicago Cubs...Yes, the lovable losers are back for another shot at their 1st World Series title since 1908, this time with a new man at the top. Former Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is now in the Windy City with an incredible task at hand. Loses in Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena are what they are...another step in getting better long term. Theo has a job ahead of him, but young stars like Stalin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Springboro native Tony Campana help.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates...I know, they had a great start to 2011, but ended as they always do, badly. Just not enough talent in the Steel City, outside of All-Star OF Andrew McCutcheon. Some young talent has shown promise, but its the Pirates...enough said.
6. Houston Astros...In a word, bad...bad, bad, bad. They traded away their best player in Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies last season, and officially starting the rebuild. The Astros are headed to the AL, so they wont be getting kicked around in the NL Central much longer. Bad team, terrible situation, little hope in the immediate future...ahhh the Astros!