Wednesday, January 04, 2006

TAKE OUT YOUR SCORECARDS FOR TODAY'S LINEUP . . .

ESPN has a graphic of
projected starters for both the NL and AL sorted by division which makes it easy to compare the moves in the NL central so far. Just a few notes on this.

*They're smart enough to have Walker as the starting 2nd bagger, Even though Dusty and Mike Kiley would most likely place Neifi ahead of unshaven trade bait.

*Cinci and Pittsburgh will be Cinci and Pittsburgh once again.

*The Cards have slipped a little on offense and in their pitching (their pen is almost completely new) from last year as they stand. Rolen wasn't exactly the 2004 edition last year when he did play, but if he has another year like that one they'll win about 90-95 games this year. The Bigbie/Rodriguez and Encarnacion outfield is an unknown, but will certainly regress from last year's corners.

*Houston's offense is anemic, but their starting pitching is still decent, even without Clemens. I'm more inclined to think they won't make any incredible runs like they did last year. No Clemens insures this.

*Milwaukee could surprise everyone, but still seems like a .500 team.

*So do the Cubs. Unless Prior, Wood, and Z have big years. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-18 wins apiece and making 90% of their starts. Plus Maddux and the number 5 need to be around .500. Fortunately, the bullpen should be an improvement and it'll be nice to have the roles defined going into spring training.

My line up right now would be:

Pierre
Walker
Lee
Ramirez
Jones*
Barrett
Murton
Cedeno


*He should be platooned (with Grissom?) and moved down the order when the K's rise and the OPS falls--or never gets off the ground.

I don't think a few games over .500 is out of the question with healthy pitching and decent 1 and 2 hitters (I'm resigned to the fact that we won't have any further improvements . . . errr . . . overpaid changes in the outfield. Oui, oui Jacque, I speak of you). They're in a weaker division and might be slightly better among the position players. But that's not enough. The problem is, we need great healthy pitching.