Is a feel good reunion in St. Louis enough to take the NL Central? Did the Cubs win the lottery in signing Suzuki?
The NL Central was bounced from the playoffs early last year. The St. Louis Cardinals lost the Wild Card game to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the Milwaukee Brewers took a first-round exit from the eventual World Series Champions Atlanta Braves. I wouldn’t call the NL Central a division to look out for this year, but don’t be too surprised if one of these teams does make it out of the first round this year.
In order of finish from 2021 (Record)
Milwaukee Brewers (95-67)
The Brewers took advantage of a fairly easy division in 2021. Being a division winner is always something to be proud of before going to the playoffs, but it’s not like there was much competition for the spot. The Brewers must have figured it was going to be another easy year to take the division because they did not make many moves. Trading Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston for Hunter Renfroe was their biggest offseason move. As a career .237 hitter with an OBP of .297 don’t expect him to get on base a lot. However, when he does make contact, he will hit for power. Not including the Covid season, his last two full seasons he hit over 30 home runs.
Luckily for them, their pitching should keep them in the hunt. Last year they had three All-Star starting pitchers in Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. Brand Woodruff finished fifth in Cy Young voting while Corbin Burnes took home the honor and hardware. The Brewers’ pitching last season was absolute filth and was very exciting to watch. They are going to have to have a repeat performance this year to keep them relevant.
Corbin Burnes, Cutter (home plate view).
If you wanted to see why it’s so hard to hit. 😯 pic.twitter.com/PWLaM7FB18
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 28, 2022
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
Just like the Brewers, the Cardinals opted to not make many moves. They do have two big names at both infield corners that they can trust in Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. Both guys can easily strike fear into any pitcher every single at-bat. Of course, two names are not enough, but there is a lot of potential in many of the young guys on the squad. In true Cardinals fashion, be excited to look out for some random name you never heard of come up midseason and absolutely destroy. Who doesn’t love a good reunion? The Cardinals brought back Albert Pujols for his final season. They drafted him way back in 1999 and he left in 2012 when the Angels signed him to a massive deal. Could this be the final goodbye for him, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina?
ALBERT PUJOLS STILL GOT IT pic.twitter.com/mkfQ0IRJlB
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) August 8, 2021
Cincinnati Reds (83-79)
It is very unclear what to expect from the Reds this upcoming season. They have been on the opposite side of move making this offseason compared to the Brewers and Cardinals. They have made a lot of moves, but making moves doesn’t always mean progress. To be fair, it is not clear what the Reds are doing. They traded both Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Mariners, which looks like an obvious teardown. Just two days later they sent Amir Garrett to the Royals for Starter Mike Minor. Look for them to compete with the Pirates for the worst team in the NL Central this year. The brightest spot for the Reds so far has been the announcement that at only 22, their top prospect Hunter Greene has made the Opening Day roster.
— MLB (@MLB) March 30, 2022
Chicago Cubs (71-91)
While crying poor, the Cubs went ahead and stripped down the team and got rid of most of their 2016 World Series team. Obviously, fans were very unhappy, but the front office said they tried everything they could to retain them. They now claim this is not a full rebuild and will be competing soon. Relief pitching has been an issue for the Cubs. So they went and signed as many relief pitchers as they could, including bringing back Jesse Chavez, who had a small but great stint with the team in 2018. They did bolster their rotation with the addition of Marcus Stroman. There is going to be a lot of pressure on him to be a solid number two behind Kyle Hendricks.
The Cubs need help in pretty much every aspect to be able to compete sooner rather than later. They were in on the Carlos Correa sweepstakes. Unfortunately, they had to settle for Andrelton Simmons. Their biggest move though was signing Japanese superstar Seiya Suzuki. Suzuki has had an amazing career in Japan and is looking to tear it up in MLB. He may be older, but look for him to potentially be a Rookie of the Year candidate.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 30, 2022
Pittsburgh Pirates (61-101)
One of the hardest teams to talk about is the Pirates. That’s because they are not trying to compete, nor are they even trying to give off the impression that they are. They did not make any major moves this offseason. In fact, the only moves they made were to just be able to put a team on the field. The newest CBA that was put forward this year was supposed to prevent teams from intentionally keeping their prospects in the minors for too long. Well, the Pirates decided that Oneil Cruz is not ready to be on the big league club and will not add him to the Opening Day roster. Well, hopefully Ke’Bryan Hayes stays healthy because Pirates fans need to look forward to something good.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 30, 2022