Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Season 38 Preview: NL North

Season 37 Recap
The Reds arrived in a big way last year, winning the division for the first time since Season 21 and advancing all the way to the NLCS.

Season 38 Preview

Somewhat lost in all the Mets/Pirates off-season hoopla were all the Reds' moves.  They traded for vets Darrell Hughes, Al Rosado, Jaime Aldridge, Justin Zagone, Troy Griffith, and Danny Barr; they may now have the NL's most productive lineup. They improved the pitching for sure, although I'm not sure the rotation compares with that of the Mets, Braves or Pirates.  No doubt, though, Cincy has as good a shot as anyone to be the NL's WS rep.

Meanwhile the Cubbies weren't sitting still.  They added closer David Estrella, C Robert Roberts, defensive SS Alcides Lopez, and short reliever Malcolm Buxton.  Chicago now has a capable bullpen to go with an excellent 4-deep rotation and last year's #4 offense and all-round excellent defense (.987 fielding % and 93/32 on +/- plays).  Yet another team that will likely win more games this year than last.

The Expos look like they're going to trust Rudy House's glove in RF - a perfectly legit move considering the (needed) punch he brings.  Montreal is in the process of becoming one of the youngest ML rosters in Major Leagues, with prospects like Kurt Koch, Dorssys Johnson, Marco Greene, Cam Bando, Hugh Kent, Wilking Benitez, and others heading for the Show in coming seasons.  Not a bad ML roster now, and it's going to get better and cheaper soon.

Milwaukee gets another bite at the top-5 apple this year (#1) after selecting power-hitting infielder Rob Zoltan #3 last year.  The ML team will no doubt take their lumps this year, although they rummaged around in the FA bargain bin enough to keep them above the MWR (I especially liked the Sid Larkin signing).

Cincinnati is just too loaded, I think they'll win handily.  The Cubs may well win 90-95 games, and I could see them getting a Wild Card or missing narrowly.  Some really good teams are going to miss the NL playoffs, and at this point I expect Chicago to be one of them.  

No comments: