2009 Preview: NL Central

After previewing the AL Central, here are my predictions for the National League Central

1. Chicago Cubs- Division Winners

The Cubs have a lineup that should be able to produce a lot of runs with Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee, and 2008 NL Rookie of the Year, Geovanny Soto.

The Cubs also have pitching depth with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and Ryan Dempster. If Rich Harden stays healthy, the Cubs have themselves one of the top pitchers in the game. Kevin Gregg will take over as closer, but Carlos Marmol has been a top reliever. The Cubs also seem to like their reliever, Jeff Samardzija. It's been 100 years since the Cubbies won a World Series, and they'll look to reverse the curse.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are another team with a strong lineup. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder lead the way with J.J. Hardy and Cory Hart following. The Brewers have young and very talented pitchers on the rise such as Yovanni Gallardo and Manny Parra.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

There is no doubt Albert Pujols is going to put up MVP type numbers. Pujols, Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel can each drive in runs. However, the Cardinals had some of the worst pitching last season, mainly due to injuries. Their pitching isn't strong, but hope to be better now that Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter return.

4. Cincinatti Reds

Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are expected to do big things in their careers. Edison Volquez and Johnny Cueto are pitchers that have potential to make hitters look silly. Their veterans, Brandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, and closer Fransico Coredero are all capable of great seasons, but the Reds still have some holes that need to be filled.

5. Houston Astros

The 'Stros have a lineup that includes Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, and Miguel Tejada. But other than Roy Oswalt, the Astros don't have much pitching at all.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

Sixteen consecutive losing seasons and counting. Catcher Ryan Doumit and outfielder Nate McClouth had break out seasons last year. Matt Capps will close, and Paul Maholm will be the ace of the staff, but the Pirates lack pitching.


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