WHERE DID HOUSTON GO? SOMEBODY FIND HOUSTON! Oh, stand down. Never mind. There you are Houston, you moved to California! Weird. Welp, Wayward O won’t be able to complain about the inequity of a six-team division any more. Blog will find something else to complain about. Give Blog a few minutes. Blog will come up with something. With Houston gone and Chicago unlikely to hand out another 100 wins in this division, things will tighten up for the Reds, who won last year going away.
Chicago Cubs - We see what you’re up to, Cubs. After a miserable 2011 and a down-cycling in 2012 in which you lost 101 games, you’re soberly bringing those kids along in hopes of growing a team. So very Epstein-y. Cut that loss total down to size this year and let’s see what the kids Brett Jackson and Javier Baez can do. Alfonso Soriano hit 30 home runs and drove in 100 last year. Who knew? The Internet knew, that’s who! If he does it again, you might be able to move him this summer!
Cincinnati Reds - They traded Drew Stubbs but brought in Shin-Soo Choo, who probably is an upgrade. They more or less let Scott Rolen go, but they’re very high on young Todd Frazier. They’re bringing back a solid team. They should be in the playoff mix again. Will Aroldis Chapman finally catch on as a starter? Just this weekend he indicated he wants to close games, a departure from his previous inclinations. Where does that leave free agent closer Jonathan Broxton? Guess Dusty can sort that out. Nice problem to have. They’d still have a reliable rote either way. They also surely still have a bad taste in their mouths after failing to close out the Giants last October.
Milwaukee Brewers - They used Zack Greinke as a trade chip to land young shortstop Jean Segura and other talent. They still hit home runs up and down the lineup and haven’t lost any of that power so a lot will be up to a young pitching staff featuring Yovani Gallardo at the top and other “unknowns,” as the Sporting News calls them, like Mike Fiers. This is the kind of team that would be buying, as opposed to selling, this year if they’re in the mix going into late July. Will Ryan Braun make it through 2013 without a PED suspension?
Pittsburgh Pirates - Well two years ago it was Jose Tabata who was going to join Andrew McCutchen and round out the dynamic duo. Now its this even newer kid Starling Marte. Many people say this is the year when they finally have the ability to push for a playoff spot without flagging at the end. It could happen, especially if Garrett Jones at first base and Pedro Alvarez at third base keep hiting taters. Tell you what, if those two eclipse their 2012 total of 57 home runs, pencil in the Buccos for a Wild Card. It’s going to have to happen without Kevin Correia, on of their more reliable starters, who left via free agency. Will we see Jameson Taillon in the majors this summer?
St. Louis Cardinals - Plenty of pitching depth, plenty of power and plenty of Carlos Beltran. It is strange to see the 16-3, sub 3-era, Kyle Lohse still without a team but more teams are playing smarter with their outlays, or something, and it’s impacting the high-end market maybe. Would it be ironic if a guy named Miller — young rotation candidate Shelby Miller that is — became the story of the summer at Budweiser stadium? Note to Colorado: No fancy craft brews here. Just perennial playoff baseball. Kind of a stretch, even, to put the Reds ahead of ‘em this year.
Predicted Order of Finish
* wild card mix