In case you missed it, Part 1.
Why The Cubs Will Win The NL Central
Come on, they're the Cubs! What would the playoffs be without some games at Wrigley, the Steve Bartman and Harry Caray Halloween costumes, and the tears and suicides to follow? The Cubs once again have a stacked team - offense, pitching, bullpen - the works. The NL Central is significantly weaker with the loss of a fat, fat man, and the Cubs look ready to capture their third consecutive division title. Zambrano, Soriano, Lee, and Dempster are all back, and Dick Harden (hehehehehe) should provide some help if he can stay healthy.
Why The Cubs Won't Win The NL Central
Come on, they're the Cubs! Maybe instead of failing in the playoffs they can just get the fail out of the way early and blow the division. It's so easy to picture, isn't it? Harden gets his Matt Clement on, Jeff Samardzija elopes to Vermont with Brady Quinn, Milton Bradley brutally murders half the bullpen... the possibilities are endless really. So every time you think they'll win a game or a division or a playoff round, remember - they're the Cubs. They'll find a way to lose.
Why The Reds Will Win The NL Central
This may sound a bit odd, but the Reds actually don't look half bad this year. They're rolling with young guns Jay Bruce and Joey Votto on offense and they have Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto in their rotation. Are they the favorites to win this division? Doubtful, but I could see the Reds surprising a few people this year. If Homer Bailey all of a sudden comes around, it could get even more interesting.
Why The Reds Won't Win The NL Central
The clear Achilles heel of the 2009 Reds is their bullpen. What, names like Mike Lincoln, Jared Burton, Josh Roenicke, Danny Herrera, and Nick Masset don't scare you? I know no one's bullpen in this division looks particularly intimidating, but these are the Reds, folks. Let's just all give them some minor props for having a few good young players and move on.
Why The Astros Will Win The NL Central
Two words: Lance Berkman. Dude raked last year to the tune of 29 homers, 114 runs and 18 steals in 159 games. If he can play over 150 games yet again, the Astros offense will greatly appreciate it. While I think Carlos Lee may have topped out last year, he can show some pop, and young guns Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence should contribute as well. Add in Roy Oswalt as your ace and hey, you never know.
Why The Astros Won't Win The NL Central
"Houston Astros Division Chances" is an anagram for "Hands Novices Atrocious Shit, Son." I mean really, Miguel Tejada? Pudge Rodriguez? Mike fucking Hampton? I mean, they've already had one player have OPEN HEART SURGERY, and the season hasn't started yet. I anticipate similar heart problems for their most loyal fans.
Why The Brewers Will Win The NL Central
May I present reason #1 and reason #2. Fielder and Braun are a nasty combo in the heart of this Brewers lineup. They combined for over 70 homers last year, they're both young and have plenty of good years ahead of them, and they both played over 150 games apiece last season. Throw in Weeks, Hart, Hardy, and Bill Hall and the supporting cast to this two-headed monster isn't half bad either.
Why The Brewers Won't Win The NL Central
Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2009 Brewers Opening Day starter. The loss of C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets really kills this starting pitching staff. Now they're going to war with Suppan, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, and Braden Looper. They did pick up a pretty solid closer in Trevor Hoffman, but he is aging and turns out he's going to start the season on the DL. They also have Jason Kendall, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the bottom of their order. Also, a history lesson, if I may. The Brewers utility infielder is Craig Counsell, the whitest player to ever play the game.
Why The Pirates Will Win The NL Central
Umm...jeez, wow. Er..Nate McLouth is pretty good I guess. Uhh..Adam LaRoche has some pop in his bat. Ryan Doumit's not terrible. Brandon Moss is...something. Jeez, this team doesn't have a lot going for them. They're going to need all of the above to emerge on offense, and certainly find a few diamonds in the rough on their pitching staff, because right now...yikes.
Why The Pirates Won't Win The NL Central
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. I know W-L means jack shit, but guess how many guys in the Opening Day Pirates rotation had a winning record last year? How about ZERO. Not even their ace. Their bullpen outside of Grabow isn't much of anything either. None of this should shock you though - just expect a typical Pirates season.
St. Louis Cardinals
Why The Cardinals Will Win The NL Central
Hey, anyone hear of this Pujols guy? He's kind of like the best player in baseball and shit. Seriously, watching this guy swing a bat makes me swoon like a school girl. I'm not willing to publicly disclose the things I would be willing to do to get him on the Red Sox. And to think, just this past weekend, resident WEEI genius Michael Felger said if given the opportunity, he wouldn't trade Clay Buchholz for Pujols straight up. Felgy better hope I never meet him.
Why The Cardinals Won't Win The NL Central
Once again, like many, many teams in this division (and in baseball itself), it all comes down to pitching. And the Cardinals don't have enough of it. Wainwright is serviceable, but after him, they're fucked. They'll need a BIG bounce-back year from Carpenter, and they need guys like Lohse, Wellemeyer, and...jeez... Joel Pinero? Yeah, it's not looking good.
Smarty Barrett's pick to win the NL Central: Yeah, I know they tend to blow it from time to time...or like, ALL the time, but I'll still take the Cubbies here. The only other team that might have a prayer is the Cards, but I just don't see it. Maybe a Wild Card spot for the Red Birds, but the baby bears snag another division crown.
HZMLS's pick to win the NL Central: Well since the rest of the division is a joke, I am going to go with the Pirates. Zach Duke will win the Cy Young and go 26-4 with a 2.10 ERA.
In all seriousness, the Cubbies.
What say you, readers?