Thursday, March 31, 2005

NL Central

RSN: Ok tonight, the biggest league in baseball! In your prediction you have the Cardinals finishing top again - what are the risks for the Cardinals?

NYN: The main risk is in the rotation, whilst they all stepped up last year, I am not convinced the likes of Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan are really as good as their stats showed last year. Also can Mark Mulder settle into his groove in the NL?

RSN: Where would you rank their lineup - one of the top 3 in baseball?

NYN: Probably yes, Albert Pujols to me is just flat out awesome and knowing he'll be backed up by Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds is quite a heart of the order to say the least.

RSN: Tony La Russa has a reputation of being one of the best manager's in baseball - does a man that has seen his teams swept in 2 WS deserve that tag?

NYN: Just because you don't win the big show doesn't mean you are not a great manager, Bob Brenly won a WS as a manager and I think most would say he isn't very good. La Russa is one of the best managers in my book - period.

RSN: One of the most interesting stories in the Central is the Cubs - can the pitching overcome perceived weaknesses in the lineup?

NYN: Even bad teams will score on average two or three runs a game and the Cubs rotation, if healthy, can hold teams to those sorts of levels. It is all about the pitching for the Cubs.

RSN: In an ideal world, Prior and Wood are healthy and Nomar produces..... In the other world, Prior and Wood have another injury plagued season and Nomar continues his injury aided decline - how bad can this Cubs team be?

NYN: The Cubs can be very bad and finish sub .500 and that is possible.

RSN: In your predictions, you have the Cubs going all the way - clearly you think the probability is in the upside - would the world survive back to back wins by the Cubs and Sox?

NYN: Well sometimes strange things do happen and the world just keeps spinning - just the only day a young lady informed me I was attractive even whilst looking awful in my ultra-slobby home-only clothes and I still woke up the next day to find things were seemingly going on as per usual, it seems as though this planet can take anything thrown at it!

RSN: lol - the Astros lost out on Beltran this off-season how much does that hurt their chances?

NYN: It kills them off for me, Houston were geared to win it all last year and whilst being a year older is good for teams like the Padres where Greene and Burroughs and the like are developing, in Houston it is a bad thing as the likes of Biggio and Bagwell can't keep doing it.

RSN: How does Roger perform this year - and is this his last hurrah?

NYN: He will be lights out again, sub 3 ERA, 200K's 1.15 WHIP, and for the money he's on I expect at least those numbers. As long as he is dominant, he'll hang around.

RSN: I have to think at some point he calls it quits regardless - so are the rumors true, if the Astros are where we expect, does Roger finish his career back in Yankee Stadium....or Fenway?

NYN: Both teams will enquire and as I understand it, he has a handshake agreement with the owner of the Astros that if they aren't in contention, then he'll be allowed to move on to the Yankees.

RSN: Do the Yankees have room for him?

NYN: They'll make room, this is Roger Clemens we are talking about, how about a World Series rotation of Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens and Carl Pavano, how does that sound to you?

RSN: I may have asked this question before.... what do fans of the Reds, Brewers and Pirates have to look forward to?

NYN: The Reds look forward to seeing the best OF in baseball every day, the Brewers have some good young hurlers and as for Pirate fans, well they'll get to eat some nice Hot Dogs.

RSN: Does Griffey Jr. make it to Memorial Day?

NYN: I'm going to stick my neck on the line and say yes. That answer has nothing to do with me picking him in our fantasy league by the way...

RSN: He really is one of those special players, but things just don't seem to have worked out for him there - is he a perfect candidate for an AL team and the DH spot?

NYN: He and Mike Piazza are two prototype DH's. If Griff wants to come to The Stadium then I'll welcome him with open arms.

RSN: Does Dunn need to lower his strike totals to become an elite player, or should we just concentrate on his abilities when he does make contact?

NYN: He does need to lower those K's, put more balls in play. As it stands he is a fine power hitter, but not a great hitter of the baseball. If he can hit .280 then he'd be around where he has to be.

RSN: The Brewers do have Ben Sheets, and quite a lot of potential - can they improve meaningfully in 2005?

NYN: I love the addition of a genuine power threat in the middle of the line-up in the face of Carlos Lee. If things drop for them, they could play .500 ball in 2005.

RSN: Did they make the biggest addition by subtraction - the loss of Bud Selig?

NYN: I don't see that as a big thing if I'm being honest, although come to think of it, if George stepped away from baseball matters it'd probably be the best thing that could happen to the Yankees, so I'll change my answer to yes they did.

RSN: The Pirates can't seem to decide when the rebuilding process should stop - will the Pirates be doing their best to get the first pick in the 2006 draft?

NYN: Probably, but they'll still lose out to the Royals, the Pirates can never do anything right.

RSN: I just wonder if they built the stadium with fantastic views of the river and the city because they knew people wouldn't be that focused on the diamond - lets look for good news - is Perez the real deal?

NYN: One year doesn't convince me I'm afraid, I think the jury is still very much out on him, but you've got to like what you've seen so far.

RSN: They also have the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year, what can we expect from Jason Bay in 2005?

NYN: A sophomore slump.

RSN: Ok then, with that depressing sign off on the Pirates, your Divisional MVP, Cy Young and surprise player?

NYN: Albert Pujols is just a class above everyone in the NL Central so I cannot look any further than him. I'll go with Ben Sheets for the Cy Young, because I'm not sure Dusty can keep all his arms healthy and I don't know which one will breakdown, as for a surprise player, how about a massive bounce back year for Morgan Ensberg down in the hot corner in Houston?

On that note, we will get ready for the AL Central – the weakest league in baseball?

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