Time to turn up the heat on the National League Central and take a look at the burning questions surrounding each team!
The NL Central has been one of the most competitive divisions in baseball the past few seasons, and last was no different. The Brewers held first place all the way until the end of August, only to totally implode when it counted most, finishing 82-80. Their loss was the Cardinals gain, as the Redbirds won their second consecutive division. Pittsburgh proved last season, that their 2013 success was no fluke. The Pirates clinched their second consecutive Wild Card berth.
Both St. Louis and Pittsburgh were quiet this offseason, but that will not hurt their playoff chances. These are two extremely well run organizations that allow them to contend year in and year out. Take a look at the depth charts of both the Cardinals and Pirates. Both are dotted with homegrown talent, and have a sustainable model running full speed ahead.
The rising force in the division will be the Cubs. Joe Maddon finally had enough of the low budget Rays, and took his bag of tricks to Chicago. A visit from a local witch doctor may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to finally breaking the Curse of the Billy Goat. Or, you could just sign Jon Lester to fill out an already solid rotation, and bring three of the game’s best prospects to the big leagues at the same time. Hopes are high in Chicago for both the North and South Siders. It may be time for a White Sox revival, but I believe the Cubs are still a year away.
The Brewers and Reds get lost in the shuffle, though no fault of their own. The hype surrounding the Cubs is beginning to drown out any other news out of this division. The Brewers and Reds lineups remain largely unchanged from a year ago. The Reds need bounce back seasons from several injured or slumping stars. If Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce can revert back to their old form, the Reds may be able to reverse their 76-86 record from 2014. The Brewers only lineup change this winter was the addition of Adam Lind to take over first base from Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay. The Brew Crew also parted ways with Yovani Gallardo, sending him to Texas for a package highlighted by shortstop prospect Luis Sardinas.
And no, this question did not make the list, but the Cubs mascot still does not have pants.