Offseason Questions For The NL Central

With the offseason and our team-by-team reviews in the books, we're asking questions of each club.  Let's try the NL Central.


54 Responses to Offseason Questions For The NL Central Leave a Reply

  1. timmytwoshoezzz 5 years ago

    Ramon Hernandez is going to be a solid catcher for the Reds this season. He’s looked great defensively and he’s a better hitter than Hanigan (when you look beyond just thier batting ave.) Rolen and O-Cab looked old yesterday. Hopefully they come around, but the left side of the Reds infield doesn’t have the range I wish they did. Hopefully Janish doesn’t spend all season rotting on the bench next to Dusty.

    • switchhitingjesus 5 years ago

      I really hope the Reds don’t see Ramon’s lazy side. That was the reason he was shipped out of Baltimore.

      • baseball1 5 years ago

        And this certain guy named Wieters also helped!

    • stl_cards16 5 years ago

      Did you watch the game? Rolen made a couple very good plays and would of had 2 hr’s if Rasmus wouldn’t of robbed one…hardly what I call looking old! I was actually thinking that was the best he looked since 2004…..

  2. alexchicago14 5 years ago

    Have the cubs added enough pitching in Carlos Silva and John Grabow? hahahaha! No, thats hardly adding.

    • Nicolas_C 5 years ago

      haha, I think it’s referred to as “subtraction by addition”

  3. daveineg 5 years ago

    The Brewers managed 80 wins with a rotation that was a mess last year. Part of that was due to offense, but for 2 1/2 months the bullpen carried them before wearing down.

    Randy Wolf is at least the equivalent of Ted Lilly so I believe he represents a huge upgrade to the Brewer rotation as a number two starter. Davis figures to be what he’s always been, a useful 3-4 type guy and none of the Brewer starters beyond Gallardo even performed to that level in 09.

    But a big key is a bounce back by Dave Bush to the level he performed at in 08 and the first two months of 09. If he does that, its a solid if not spectacular rotation even with the 5th spot muddled right now (eventually I expect them to settle on Chris Narveson in that spot).

    On paper, the Brewers have one of the deepest pens in the NL. Now that’s dependent on another stellar season by ageless Trevor Hoffman. But even if he falters, they have alternatives and some kids, most notably Zach Braddock with outstanding stuff if the present group runs into some trouble.

    • Randy Wolf is not as good as Ted Lilly.

      • garettf 5 years ago

        Your right Wolf may be more valuable. Look at Wolf’s numbers last year. He was the ace of the Dodgers who went to the nlcs. Where did Lilly lead the Cubs?

        • Wolf is one year younger, and has a bigger history of injuries.

          Let’s look at each pitcher’s last three seasons:

          Wolf: 32 W, 3.94 ERA, 416 K’s, 168 BB’s, and 1.27 WHIP (in 507.3 IP)
          Lilly: 44 W, 3.70 ERA, 509 K’s, 155 BB’s, and 1.14 WHIP (in 588.6 IP)

          Wolf has a slightly lower career ERA, but his best years were in his low-to-mid 20’s. I’ll take the wine that ages better (aka Ted Lilly).

          • Agreed, Ted Lilly is a step above Wolf. I also don’t agree with the original poster that Doug Davis is and has always been a “a useful 3-4 type guy”. Davis is a #3 on a team with a poor rotation. He’s a #5 almost anywhere else. Being happy to have him as a number 3 illustrates how poor the Brew Crew’s rotation was last year, it wouldn’t be wise to get overly excited about having him at #3 though.

          • Agreed. His points are off.

            Lilly is really underrated.

          • Okay, I just took a look at Davis again, he shows up a little better than I remembered. His WHIP is poor but he has a better ERA+ than I though. I take back what I said, he’s not a bad option for a #3 though I think a contender would want better.

  4. bobbybaseball 5 years ago

    They didn’t really “add” Grabow, he’s was there for the latter part of last season.

    • Signing a guy who was eligible for free agency counts as adding in my book.

      • bobbybaseball 5 years ago

        So, would re-signing an arb-eligible guy count also? I mean, the team could have declined to tender him an offer. (Not trying to be smart, serious question).

      • bobbybaseball 5 years ago

        So, would re-signing an arb-eligible guy count also? I mean, the team could have declined to tender him an offer. (Not trying to be smart, serious question).

  5. daveineg 5 years ago

    It’s not just my opinion that Wolf is the equal to Lilly. Just look both of them on the baseball reference website and you’ll see that each is the number one in similarity scores for the other. They are virtually identical.

    • bobbybaseball 5 years ago

      They’re even both California boys, about the same stature (Lilly is an inch taller, weight almost the same) and they are only 5 months apart. Both have struggled in post-season and each have one all-star appearance.

      Twin sons of different mothers.

    • bobbybaseball 5 years ago

      They’re even both California boys, about the same stature (Lilly is an inch taller, weight almost the same) and they are only 5 months apart. Both have struggled in post-season and each have one all-star appearance.

      Twin sons of different mothers.

  6. Gunner65 5 years ago

    I’m a Reds fan and here is the way I see the Central:

    1. Cards have the best 3-4-5 hitters, the top 1-2 starting pitchers in the central and will be top team for at least another season. Colby is going to have a monster season. Have all the parts necessary to win another division title. If they some how let Pujols escape due to a contract squabble(which I seriously doubt) … the rest of the NL Central will rejoice lol!

    2. Brewers – scary offense – decent, not great pitching staff will keep them competitive. Resigning Fielder is a priority & Gallardo must stay healthy and take the next step in fulfilling his potential. Brews & Cubs could be fighting for #2 spot all season. Good talent in the pipeline too.

    3. Cubs Have solid, aging club but Zambrano if pitches all season like he did yesterday, they are in for a long season. Need Lee & Aramis to stay healthy & productive. Time is running out with the current vets and a purge will be necessary in the next couple of seasons to restock with better, younger players.

    4. Pirates – A lot of good, young talent. Could easily jump all the way to #2 in the division depending on how the rest of the teams fair. But like all young teams, they will struggle at times with their youth. 2011 & beyond look very bright for this team & will be giving the Cards a run for their money very soon.

    5. Reds – My team makes me such a pessimists – Starting staff is suspect due to youth & no true #1 starter (YET!) Offense has a lot of swing and miss players outside of Votto & Rolen … Bruce needs to have break out year. If Cueto, Bailey & Leake step up, they will be around .500 most of the season. Baker will keep them from reaching their true potential & wouldn’t surprise me to see them battling the Stros for the cellar by the trade deadline though. Until Baker is gone and we get a much better game manager, we’ll be stuck with underachieving team. But at least we have a lot of talent in the pipeline to hope for.

    6. Stros – Not sure where they are headed. Some still productive, aging vets but not much in the pipe line outside of a couple of solid prospects(BBA’s opinion, not mine). Time for a complete system overhaul. A return to health & form by all their vets will be necessary to keep them competitive.

    OK, flame away! lol

    • start_wearing_purple
      start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      1) Agreed on the Cards except I’d say Fielder, Braun, and Votto could give Holliday a run for his title as second best hitter in the NL Central.

      2) What, you’re not afraid of Jeff Suppan? Well NO SOUP FOR YOU! Yeah… this team will have to ride offense to win.

      3) Yeah, I think the Cubs window has closed. Right now they can’t match up with the Cards and I don’t see them taking the WC unless everything goes perfectly… which it rarely does.

      4) If Alvarez is close to as advertised then the Pirates could make a run next year.

      5) I’m kinda surprised Reds fans haven’t gone insane over the last couple of years… they’ve been picked as the darkhorse team for 4-5 years now. Yeah, their a team to watch for… but not this year.

      6) When people are talking about the future of the Pirates and Reds over a team that was in the Series only 5 years ago… yeah, that’s saying something.

    • I agree with most of what you said though I’m not as bullish on the Pirates as you are. I’m not as high on their young talent, I think it’s a bit too mediocre. You hit the nail on the head with the Reds needing a new manager though, after watching Dusty in Chicago for four years it was pretty obvious what was going to happen with the Reds. And you’re right, the ‘Stros are a bad team that should have been blown up at least a year ago. They’ve got a horrible GM though who’s going to continue wasting money on the likes of Brandon Lyon in hopes of a miracle. Not happening. Overall I’d put the Cubs ahead of the Brewers and the Pirates behind the Reds, otherwise you nailed it.

    • bobbybaseball 5 years ago

      Disagrere on the Bucs. No chance at second place this year or a .500 team in the near future.

      The Reds have a bright future, but won’t likely contend until next year at the earliest. Need to dump Dusty.

      Cards the obvious class of the division (hurts me to say), so we agree there. Cubs won’t go far, should be right around .500 (also hurts me to say). I don’t know what to make of the Brewers, though I’m picking them for 2nd place. ‘Stros going nowhere.

    • bobbybaseball 5 years ago

      Disagrere on the Bucs. No chance at second place this year or a .500 team in the near future.

      The Reds have a bright future, but won’t likely contend until next year at the earliest. Need to dump Dusty.

      Cards the obvious class of the division (hurts me to say), so we agree there. Cubs won’t go far, should be right around .500 (also hurts me to say). I don’t know what to make of the Brewers, though I’m picking them for 2nd place. ‘Stros going nowhere.

  7. daveineg 5 years ago

    Gunner65.

    Can’t agree with you on the Pirates. While each of their starters isn’t horrible, they lack anything close to an ace and while their lineup contains some exciting players, it’s middle isn’t up to the standards of every other team in the division.

    They might catch the Astros if Berkman is out for a long period because the Astros have couple holes and questionable pitching depth, but I think the Pirates need a top of the rotation guy to be competitive and one big bat.

    I think you are a little tough on your Reds. While I still don’t see them as some darling dark horse, they look like middle of the pack to me.

    Cubs could contend if they hit like they potentially can, but that bullpen beyond Marmol is horrible and you don’t win in this age without your bullpen being able to secure the 7th and 8th innings.

    Brewers need some things to go right, but if everything fell into place they could hang with the Cards. Still I don’t see them quite challenging St. Louis barring some injuries.

    • I gotta disagree with you on the Cubs bullpen. I think there are some young guys there who are going to surprise. Stevens, Carridad etc… have some talent and should for a solid bullpen. Marmol worries me though, his control problems are a big issue. If he get’s it figured out and returns to his ’07 and ’08 form the bullpen could be a real asset.

      • Suzysman 5 years ago

        He’s incorrect on the bullpen but merely because he said “beyond Marmol”, where in actuality Marmol is a gigantic part of the problem. You are not correct at all in saying this will be a “solid bullpen” though – our Pen is horrific and will cost us a ton of games this season. Specifically, we have

        Marmol – Big-K guy but absolutely no control, so completely unpredictable and unreliable

        Grabow – poor control, average K, very hittable

        Shark-Bait – Trash. Just brings nothing to the table. High walks, no Ks, hittable

        Berg – No control, inability to K anyone and gets hit consistently

        Caridad – Average control, average command and gives up a fairly average amount of hits. Not a bad 4th to 5th guy but ability wise he is like 2nd for us.

        Russell – Slightly better then average control, but well below K ability. Given up high hit rates in the high minors, so doesnt seem to fool many. FlyBall pitcher, so might not be pretty playing in Chicago.

        and then Marshall – our long reliever, who is about as average as you can get across the board. Sadly, he is probably our best call from the pen.

        This is not going to be fun. We are going to be walking people like crazy, with no one who can blow hitters away other then the guy most likely to walk them himself that we designated as the so-called “closer”

        • thejerkstore 5 years ago

          i have to agree – it looks real messy down there. On a positive note, they do have some depth in the minors (cashner, gaub, stevens, parker) so maybe Lou can piece meal something together.

          I am not a big fan of Sharks at all – doesn’t miss enough bats for the stuff he has – but he has really been mishandled by the cubs. Shuttling him back and forth between the minors constantly. One day he is a reliver, the next he is a closer, then set-up…. Give him a year at AAA with one defined job so you can at least make a conclusion on what he is.

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            “On a positive note, they do have some depth in the minors (cashner, gaub, stevens, parker)”

            That we do, relievers are our biggest stockpile (barley beating out midget middle infielders). Unfortunately, the organization has consistently targeted guys with the same control issues. Finding an arm in our system that can throw a strike on command isnt easy. And considering that is our ML issue…

            On Shark-bait, I think its a matter of the club realizing his limits but knowing they are stuck with him (Hendry is our GM, so full no trade of course) so they figure they might as well use him for whatever todays need is. Its not like you can ruin a guy that doesnt really offer anything to begin with.

        • thejerkstore 5 years ago

          i have to agree – it looks real messy down there. On a positive note, they do have some depth in the minors (cashner, gaub, stevens, parker) so maybe Lou can piece meal something together.

          I am not a big fan of Sharks at all – doesn’t miss enough bats for the stuff he has – but he has really been mishandled by the cubs. Shuttling him back and forth between the minors constantly. One day he is a reliver, the next he is a closer, then set-up…. Give him a year at AAA with one defined job so you can at least make a conclusion on what he is.

        • crunchy1 5 years ago

          I think you underestimate Caridad. The Hardball Times mentioned him in a piece a while back about rookies with the best stuff. His fastball as a reliever is a swing and miss pitch and he was edged out by more highly touted guys like Daniel Bard and Jhoulys Chacin in that category. He’s better suited for the bullpen than as a starter because he doesn’t have strong secondary pitches and his fastball went from about 91-92 mph as a starter to 95-96 as a reliever. His control as a reliever has also been well above average though the sample size between last year’s cup of coffee and spring training is very small. Still, some guys have better control out of the pen because they have more frequent repetition and/or because they may throw a higher percentage of fastballs. If you’re looking at the starter numbers on Caridad, as CHONE and Zips apparently did, then I don’t think you can get an accurate projection for Caridad as a reliever, he’s just a different pitcher in that role. I’m with you on Shark and Berg (who has been doing it with mirrors, apparently) but I’m not as down on the bullpen overall. I think it has a good chance to be about average this year.

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            “The Hardball Times mentioned him in a piece a while back about rookies with the best stuff”

            Yeah, in 2009 in the minors he had an okay K rate on the Fastball but still has minimal secondary stuff which he mainly throws to Lefties that fooled no one last season out of the pen when they were facing him for the first time. Below average strike rate, Below average swing rate, below average swinging-strike rate, above average contact rate. But this is predictable – you dont just go from a well-below average K guy as a starter to a well above-average K guy as a reliever just because you were put in the pen.

            “but I’m not as down on the bullpen overall. I think it has a good chance to be about average this year.”

            We have two average relievers, and a bunch of junk. How does that translate to average on the whole? Since the injury to Guzman, we dont have a single upside reliever outside the hopes you have that Caridad might be able to pull it off.

          • crunchy1 5 years ago

            The THT piece referenced his fastball whiff rate (which they defined as misses/swings) as a reliever in the majors. It isn’t about hope, it’s about his stuff playing much better as a reliever.

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            Yes, the number of swings and misses on the fastball – which has nothing to do with how many times hitters swung at the fastball, and has no baring on the number of K’s he should expect until secondary stuff is factored in. So what if hitters miss 25% of the FB they swing at if they dont swing at many or the ones they made contact with go for hits?

            And yes, its all about hope. Average ML is 7.0 where average reliever is about 7.6. Caridads Minor league K-rate as reliever – 7.2%. ML K-rate as reliever – 7.9% over the first time anyone saw him. And within that, a 9.82 K% in his first month verses a 6.75 K% in his second. Much like Shark-bait, it sure didnt take hitters long to figure that one out… And even basing off the preseason 7.7 K%, I dont see how my “average” is in anyway offbase.

          • crunchy1 5 years ago

            It’s about optimism vs. pessimism. It’s about looking at the favorable numbers or looking for ones that cast doubt. I am just not a pessimistic guy in general…well, unless you ask me about Shark or Berg. But I see good things in Caridad…and I’ll be vindicated by year’s end! :)

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            Yeah, because 100 years of optimism has lead to so much… :/

            Anyway, I dont even see it as black and white Optimism/Pessimism since I try to stay in the middle – that is, realistic. I would love for our pen to be fantastic, but realistically they walk way too many people, dont have anyone who stands out as above average and have very little overall experience (especially positive experience). Bullpens almost completely made up of kids or younger guys without success rarely do good to begin with. This is compounded when they share a common trait (both low-side K and high BB in our case). And you have to also remember, our apparently abandoning defensive is going to have an effect as well.

            I’ll stay optimistic and hold onto the overall idea of competing, but realistically our pen is very poor for a team claiming to be a competitor. When its following a rotation of Silva, Gorz and a bunch of guys who saw DL stints last year, well it then becomes horrific

          • crunchy1 5 years ago

            It’s about optimism vs. pessimism. It’s about looking at the favorable numbers or looking for ones that cast doubt. I am just not a pessimistic guy in general…well, unless you ask me about Shark or Berg. But I see good things in Caridad…and I’ll be vindicated by year’s end! :)

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            Yes, the number of swings and misses on the fastball – which has nothing to do with how many times hitters swung at the fastball, and has no baring on the number of K’s he should expect until secondary stuff is factored in. So what if hitters miss 25% of the FB they swing at if they dont swing at many or the ones they made contact with go for hits?

            And yes, its all about hope. Average ML is 7.0 where average reliever is about 7.6. Caridads Minor league K-rate as reliever – 7.2%. ML K-rate as reliever – 7.9% over the first time anyone saw him. And within that, a 9.82 K% in his first month verses a 6.75 K% in his second. Much like Shark-bait, it sure didnt take hitters long to figure that one out… And even basing off the preseason 7.7 K%, I dont see how my “average” is in anyway offbase.

          • crunchy1 5 years ago

            The THT piece referenced his fastball whiff rate (which they defined as misses/swings) as a reliever in the majors. It isn’t about hope, it’s about his stuff playing much better as a reliever.

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            “The Hardball Times mentioned him in a piece a while back about rookies with the best stuff”

            Yeah, in 2009 in the minors he had an okay K rate on the Fastball but still has minimal secondary stuff which he mainly throws to Lefties that fooled no one last season out of the pen when they were facing him for the first time. Below average strike rate, Below average swing rate, below average swinging-strike rate, above average contact rate. But this is predictable – you dont just go from a well-below average K guy as a starter to a well above-average K guy as a reliever just because you were put in the pen.

            “but I’m not as down on the bullpen overall. I think it has a good chance to be about average this year.”

            We have two average relievers, and a bunch of junk. How does that translate to average on the whole? Since the injury to Guzman, we dont have a single upside reliever outside the hopes you have that Caridad might be able to pull it off.

        • crunchy1 5 years ago

          I think you underestimate Caridad. The Hardball Times mentioned him in a piece a while back about rookies with the best stuff. His fastball as a reliever is a swing and miss pitch and he was edged out by more highly touted guys like Daniel Bard and Jhoulys Chacin in that category. He’s better suited for the bullpen than as a starter because he doesn’t have strong secondary pitches and his fastball went from about 91-92 mph as a starter to 95-96 as a reliever. His control as a reliever has also been well above average though the sample size between last year’s cup of coffee and spring training is very small. Still, some guys have better control out of the pen because they have more frequent repetition and/or because they may throw a higher percentage of fastballs. If you’re looking at the starter numbers on Caridad, as CHONE and Zips apparently did, then I don’t think you can get an accurate projection for Caridad as a reliever, he’s just a different pitcher in that role. I’m with you on Shark and Berg (who has been doing it with mirrors, apparently) but I’m not as down on the bullpen overall. I think it has a good chance to be about average this year.

      • Suzysman 5 years ago

        He’s incorrect on the bullpen but merely because he said “beyond Marmol”, where in actuality Marmol is a gigantic part of the problem. You are not correct at all in saying this will be a “solid bullpen” though – our Pen is horrific and will cost us a ton of games this season. Specifically, we have

        Marmol – Big-K guy but absolutely no control, so completely unpredictable and unreliable

        Grabow – poor control, average K, very hittable

        Shark-Bait – Trash. Just brings nothing to the table. High walks, no Ks, hittable

        Berg – No control, inability to K anyone and gets hit consistently

        Caridad – Average control, average command and gives up a fairly average amount of hits. Not a bad 4th to 5th guy but ability wise he is like 2nd for us.

        Russell – Slightly better then average control, but well below K ability. Given up high hit rates in the high minors, so doesnt seem to fool many. FlyBall pitcher, so might not be pretty playing in Chicago.

        and then Marshall – our long reliever, who is about as average as you can get across the board. Sadly, he is probably our best call from the pen.

        This is not going to be fun. We are going to be walking people like crazy, with no one who can blow hitters away other then the guy most likely to walk them himself that we designated as the so-called “closer”

      • crunchy1 5 years ago

        I’m with you on this, pageian. I particularly think Caridad will surprise this year…good fastball, good control out of the pen and he’s got some moxie. He’s just better suited for the pen. There’s also Gaub in AAA in addition to Stevens. Though both underachieved this spring, I think they can turn it around in the minors. They’ve got some interesting guys at the upper levels who can fit in the pen down the road like Rafael Dolis and his 100 mph fastball, Blake Parker and David Cales. Right now the asking price for guys like Frasor seems way too high to make a deal so we may be stuck with these kids for a while. It might get a little scary until we stumble upon the right mix, but I’m interested to see what we’ve got.

        • thejerkstore 5 years ago

          My guess is we see Cashner up before too long.

          I saw Gaub down in Arizona twice and he has most of his veloctiy back from College – not sure if the cubs would put 3 lefties in the pen so he may have to wait for Russel to falter.

          • crunchy1 5 years ago

            That’s a name I forgot. I always think of him as a starter but you’re right, Lou was more than willing to use him as a reliever if he would have pitched well in the spring. So he’s definitely another option.

          • crunchy1 5 years ago

            That’s a name I forgot. I always think of him as a starter but you’re right, Lou was more than willing to use him as a reliever if he would have pitched well in the spring. So he’s definitely another option.

  8. RedbirdRuffian 5 years ago

    Cards are strong but top heavy with stars. If one or two go down they could be in trouble as the 3-4-5 starters and pen are very suspect. Cubs window is closing and their pitching is average at best. Pies and Stros will battle for the basement. Reds are intriguing so much potential and so young. Bringing in Rolen and keeping Hernandez both good ideas, this team needs veteran leadership. Cabrera, Cairo, Harang, Cordero, Rhodes, Lincoln are one-year or less placeholders. This team should compete this year if Bruce, Stubbs, Votto and young pitchers continue to develop but will look a lot different next year. Brewers can win this division if their very thin pitching holds up all year, defense and hitting is excellent.

  9. Triteon 5 years ago

    Listen, I’m sick of the “could the Cards have signed Holliday for less” questions. Here’s the bottom-line: if you are Matt Holliday what’s the minimum you would have signed for? And at what point do you say “I’ll take the one-year deal then try free agency again next year”? We’ll know if this was a good deal (for the Cards) when we see how much teams are willing to spend in the upcoming offseason.

    • rayking 5 years ago

      Amen, brother.

    • rayking 5 years ago

      Amen, brother.

    • Cards_Fanboy 5 years ago

      As Warren Buffet would say… It’s far better to buy a good player at a fair price than a fair player at a good price.

  10. Triteon 5 years ago

    Listen, I’m sick of the “could the Cards have signed Holliday for less” questions. Here’s the bottom-line: if you are Matt Holliday what’s the minimum you would have signed for? And at what point do you say “I’ll take the one-year deal then try free agency again next year”? We’ll know if this was a good deal (for the Cards) when we see how much teams are willing to spend in the upcoming offseason.

  11. daveineg 5 years ago

    Caridad? Please. I realize he did well last year in all of what, 19 innings? That was after he posted a totally average 4.17 ERA at AAA. He might be fine but the key word there is might.

    Cub fans, Milwaukee has proven veteran setup guys in Hawkins (you remember him), Coffey and Vargas, all of whom posted ERA’s under 3 last year, and a lefty specialist that held left handed hitters to a .178 BA last year. They also have guys that are the equivalent of Caridad, Berg etc. only all those guys are in Nashville.

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