Saturday, May 28, 2005
AL Central, meet NL Central
Well, the people who used to crow about what a terrible division the NL Central need to polish off their brass horns. The NL Central has officially become the weakest division in baseball. Of course, the exception to all of this is our St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, the two best teams in baseball are the Cards and, sharpen your ice skates Satan, the Chicago White Sox, from MLB's original red headed step-child the AL Central. The funny thing is, though, the AL Central might well send the AL wild card team to the playoffs in the form of the Minnesota Twins. Anyway, you didn't come here to read about the AL Central, unless maybe you're a destitute fan of Missouri's original minor league team, the Royals, reading up on the Cards. The point I'm trying to make about the NL Central has lots to do with what happened to Mark Prior yesterday. Without engaging in schadenfruede, as this wasn't the fault of poor Cubs management, but rather an errant line drive, the one team that could have been competitive in the division this year is pretty much out of the race right now. Wood's status is uncertain, and there's even rumor that he's being considering to take over duties in the ninth. Zambrano is on the verge of the famous Cubs overused arm injury, now certain to happen since Dusty will use his only quality starter more now than before. My question is whether they will try to make some moves and compete, but they're already pretty far out of the running. If the Pirates hadn't just been swept by our Birds on Bat, they would be ahead of the Cubs in the division race, with the Brewers. What about Houston you say? Come on. Bagwell's out, they're 2-20 on the road. They could legitimately make some moves, if they would trade Lidge, they would get some major return on him in a league desperate for closers. For the Cardinals, well, I doubt La Russa plays less conservatively than any other season. I do anticipate key guys getting rested more, Rolen to safely take his time coming back from the injury, Thompson and maybe Wainwright getting a start in the majors, and starting pitchers being kept to a minimal amount of pitches and innings in their starts as the season goes on toward October. Maybe this gives them the wiggle room to help Ray King struggle his way back to being Ray King.