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MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9373998 NL Central predictions NL+Central+predictions MLB The Cubs did a number on the Central last season. Will that be the case this year? Aram Tolegian is predicting another walkover since nobody in the division did much to get better this offseason. Al Messerschmidt -
MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9373996 Cubs 12122009 101858 734331 Cubs+12122009+101858+734331 MLB The Cubs didn't land Jake Peavy in the offseason, but they did address key needs by getting Milton Bradley to play right and Kevin Gregg to stabilize the 'pen. By doing so, they were one of few teams in the division to actually get better, albeit slightly. The offense remains easily the division's best and the pitching staff is as good or better as any in the division. Ryan Dempster doesn't have to repeat last year's breakout, but he can't have a dramatic dropoff either. Carlos Zambrano must stay healthy because it's hard to expect that Rich Harden will. Chicago isn't far better than it was last year, but it's certainly the most complete club in the Central. Projected wins: 96-100.
Cubs team preview
VIDEO: NL Central preview
Jonathan Daniel -
MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9372602 Cardinals 12122009 101858 730741 Cardinals+12122009+101858+730741 MLB If anybody can threaten the Cubs, it's St. Louis. The Cards actually overachieved last season. But if Albert Pujols is truly healthy and Chris Carpenter can stay in one piece, St. Louis will push the Cubs well into September. Adam Wainwright is a capable ace, but this rotation isn't at Chicago's level when both staffs are healthy. The bullpen, specifically the closer, is somewhat of a concern. Youngster Jason Motte will get first crack at save opportunities. St. Louis needs everything to break right to overtake Chicago in the Central. Projected wins: 88-92.
Cardinals team preview
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Dilip Vishwanat -
MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9372600 Reds 12122009 101856 821629 Reds+12122009+101856+821629 MLB The Reds have become this year's wise-guy team. While it's hard to envision them making up 23 games on the Cubs, there's still a good chance Cincy will flirt with a .500 season. The pitching staff is solid. If Aaron Harang returns to '07 form, you can bump solid to strong. The problem is the offense is reliant on too many young players. There's no doubt Jay Bruce and Joey Votto should be among next decade's top performers, but they'll have to carry the show this season -- which is asking an awful lot. Projected wins: 80-84.
Reds team preview
VIDEO: NL Central preview
Marc Serota -
MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9372598 Brewers Brewers MLB We didn't quite agree with all the discussion about a Brewers demise. But the pitching staff couldn't catch a break this spring. Milwaukee has had two strong seasons, but in order to have a third this staff will have to stay healthy and far outperform its projected numbers. The offense remains scary with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder as two of the game's top power threats. There are no sure bets in terms of table setters. The Brewers will have their moments, but it's reasonable to expect around 10 fewer wins this season. Projected wins: 76-80.
Brewers team preview
VIDEO: NL Central preview
Christian Petersen -
MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9373994 Astros 12122009 101858 871322 Astros+12122009+101858+871322 MLB Outside of a few nice hitters and one declining ace, the Astros leave a lot to be desired. Houston should've had some pretty clear initiatives this offseason -- get some rotation depth and some table setters. They did neither. Relying on Michael Bourn in any capacity is foolish, but he's so bad that Reggie Abercrombie and Darin Erstad could platoon in center. Houston had the right intention when it got Bourn from the Phillies, but the wrong player. And now the entire offense is paying whether he's in the lineup or not. Projected wins: 74-78.
Astros team preview
VIDEO: NL Central preview
Lisa Blumenfeld -
MLB 49 43 NL Central predictions 9372596 Pirates 12122009 101856 814775 Pirates+12122009+101856+814775 MLB At several points late this decade, the Pirates looked as though they had the makings of a nice young staff. First it was Zach Duke. Then it was Ian Snell. Now it's Paul Maholm. If Maholm follows the pattern, his strong '08 will be followed by poor results this season. If all three ever bounced back, the Pirates could be somewhat of a sleeper even with an offense that lacks the power needed to be a contender. Bet on another long season. Projected wins: 66-70.
Pirates team preview
VIDEO: NL Central preview
Jonathan Daniel -
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