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KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL Central

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The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Colorado Rockies and clinching the National League Central Division at Coors Field on September 26, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Colorado Rockies and clinching the National League Central Division at Coors Field on September 26, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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Baseball season is here and the KMOX Sports Team has made their predictions for the National League Central Division. Read through their picks below and then tell us what you think.

tom ackerman KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL CentralTom Ackerman

NL Central Picks:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. St. Louis
  3. Chicago
  4. Milwaukee
  5. Houston
  6. Pittsburgh

A lot of things have to go right for the Cardinals to win this division. The bullpen must be in working order for the entire 162-game schedule. With the loss of Adam Wainwright, the rotation must be able to handle 6+ innings on a regular basis. If not, it puts added stress on the bullpen. The Cards’ offense should be a force as long as the table-setters get on base for the sluggers. Lance Berkman must also stay healthy.

The Reds have the most complete team top-to-bottom, although they’ve dealt with some injuries of their own in spring training. Cincinnati wears the crown until proven otherwise. But it’s clearly a four-team race. Anything can happen.

The Cubs will be better than people think. I like their new manager, Mike Quade. And they added a terrific starter in Matt Garza. If he and Carlos Zambrano can stay focused mentally, it’s a solid 1-2 punch.

Milwaukee has great offensive potential and upgraded its rotation, but early injuries could linger…and I’ve never been sold on the Brewers’ defense.

Houston and Pittsburgh are too far down to be a factor, although the Astros have some intriguing young talent.

kevin wheeler KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL CentralKevin Wheeler

NL Central Picks:

  1. St. Louis
  2. Milwaukee
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Chicago
  5. Houston
  6. Pittsburgh

I know, I know. I’m a homer. Whatever. Try to make a compelling case that any one of these top four teams really stands out for the crowd and see where that gets you.

I chose the Cardinals over the Brewers, Reds and Cubs for one reason – they have an offensive threesome that is better than any 1-2-3 punch the other teams can run out there on a day to day basis. Rasmus-Pujols-Holliday is as good as it gets in the division. Phillips-Votto-Bruce (in some order or another) doesn’t compare. Weeks-Braun-Fielder is really good but not quite there with the Cards’ trio. Pena-Ramirez-Soriano (or Byrd in there instead of Soriano) isn’t even close.

I see the pitching staffs of these teams being pretty close over 162 games (with relative health for all teams involved) and that’s even with Wainwright down for the season. So I’m going with the best lineup and that evaluation starts with the core. The Cards lineup could be REALLY good if Berkman and Freese are healthy.

All of that said, it’s very clear that any one of those top four teams in the division could win it. I’m picking the Cardinals but only by a tiebreaker. This division will no produce a Wild Card this year and it may not be the best in baseball but it will be very competitive.

The Astros have some good things going, especially with some of their young pitchers, but they’re not there just yet. They need some time to find long-term cogs for the everyday lineup. The Pirates aren’t close. They have some really gifted young players, like McCutchen, but not enough to see light at the end of the tunnel yet. Alvarez can pound the ball but doesn’t appear to be all that dedicated to baseball, his conditioning has been in question since college.

ron jacober KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL CentralRon Jacober

NL Central Picks:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. St. Louis
  3. Chicago
  4. Milwaukee
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Houston

Cincinnati is the defending NL Central champion and they will repeat unless them implode. Walt Jocketty has done a very good job in putting that team together and one paper, they are probably the best in the division.

The Cardinals have a chance to knock them off but several questions must be answered. Shortstop, right field, the rotation without Wainwright, the bullpen. If all of those answers are positive, then they can play in the post season.

The Cubs might be the sleeper. If their starting rotation doesn’t fall apart and self destruct again, they could be dangerous. Milwaukee? A wanna be contender. The Pirates are the pirates. They will be more competitive under their new manager but not good enough to contend. And, Houston is just a mess.

dan mclaughlin1 KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL CentralDan McLaughlin

NL Central Picks:

  1. St. Louis
  2. Milwaukee
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Houston
  5. Chicago
  6. Pittsburgh

When you make a prediction for a club in baseball, it comes down to health. The Cardinals have the slightest of margins to win and I think it comes down to health. They’ve already lost Adam Wainwright and they can’t afford another significant loss. That means David Freese, Lance Berkman, and the pitching staff have to stay relatively healthy.

Now, having said that, the Cardinals have to be confident in their bullpen. Who can replace the VERY important innings that Kyle McCllelan gave the team the last 3 years? That to me is an extremely important question. When it’s all said and done, I like the Cardinals chances but, this race will be tight.

scott warmann KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL CentralScott Warmann

NL Central Picks:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. Milwaukee
  3. St. Louis
  4. Houston
  5. Chicago
  6. Pittsburgh

The Reds have too much talent and are too deep not to run away with the division this year especially now that they will have Aroldis Chapman for a whole season. They will match up with Philly in the NLCS.

The Brewers have the ability to keep pace with Cincy. They have the best 1-2 punch of starters in the division, plus these guys may have the best lineup in the division too. Don’t forget there’s another guy who is in his walk year besides Pujols, the Prince.

Our beloved Redbirds will do what they’ve always done when Tony’s in control, give the fans a hard 9. While flirting around 500 or better, the teams just can’t overcome the loss of Wainwright. Adam’s loss takes a toll on the starting staff and the bullpen with the loss of McClellan.

The Astros will surprise a lot of people with their young talent developing. One of the biggest stories will come from former Cards property Brett Wallace at 1B for the Stros.

The Cubs streak continues………………….

The Pirates are a team that is building a solid foundation of young talent. Andrew McCutcheon is the core of this youthful group and will actually make Pittsburgh fans get a little more excited about baseball again. The Bucs pitching is pretty bad, but if they can get anything out of their rotation they may move the baby bears to the bottom of the division.

chris kerber KMOX Sports Team Makes Predictions For NL CentralChris Kerber

NL Central Picks:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. St. Louis
  3. Milwaukee
  4. Houston
  5. Chicago
  6. Pittsburgh

I am not sure any of the teams in the division made enough solid improvements to say they made themselves better than last season’s champion, Cincinnati. If the Cardinals can stay healthy and get production from their bench, they’ll challenge for the division title. The biggest question is can they get the production both offensively and defensively from their depth when needed this season?

Milwaukee starts the season with some health issues but when healthy do have improved pitching but I wonder if they have the needed work ethic based on what we have seen the last couple of seasons to win it. I don’t see Houston, Chicago, or Pittsburgh challenging for the division, making it a potential 3 team race.

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