With February knocking on the door, that means we are a little over two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training for the Chicago Cubs. I always love this time of year as this is when optimism is at it’s pique. For the time being it is not about winning or losing, it is just about simply welcoming back baseball into our lives. With that said, lets take a look at what is making news around the National League Central.
Blog Red Machine is giving Reds fans 10 reasons to be excited for the upcoming 2011 season. This past Thursday they unveiled the 10th reason why fans should be excited which was because of what the Reds did in the 2010 season. While you have give the Reds credit for what they did last season, I am on the fence on how they will turn out this season. I think the Reds were the beneficiaries of some luck and career years last season, which is why I question if they will find the same success as they did last season. Especially in a division that has improved greatly with the acquisitions of Zack Greinke by the Brewers, and Matt Garza by the Cubs.
Climbing Tal’s Hill analyzes the extension that starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez signed with the Astros. They provide some convincing evidence as why it was a good move for the Astros. The most compelling piece was the comparisons to some of the top left handed starters in the game from 2008 to 2010. Typically, I am not a fan of signing any pitcher to a long term contract. The Astros signed Rodriguez, 32, to a 3 year extension. That the right move, as Rodriguez should be able to maintain his production level during that time.
Reviewing the Brew pleads with the Brewers to sign newly acquired Shaun Marcum to a long term deal. Considering that Marcum went 13-8 with an ERA of 3.64 in the AL East last season, they suggest that Marcum should get a 3 0r 4 year deal. That would make sense, as Marcum figures to transition well into the NL Central. Although one thing that does concern me is Marcum’s success when he was not at the Rogers Center. For his career, Marcum has an ERA of 4.17 and a FIP of 4.51 on the road compared to 3.55 and 4.10 at home (Rogers Center). So, nothing would be wrong if the Brewers decided to wait before signing Marcum to a multi-year deal.
RumBunter lists the Pirates 2010 record, their defense, and their fielding as reasons why the Pirates will be better during the 2011 season. To be honest, I am a believer in the Pirates in 2011. When I say believer, I mean I believe that they will be better than what they have been for the past decade. Clint Hurdle is good manager, and worked well with the young Rockies club that went to World Series in 2007. It would be equally as successful for Hurdle, if he can manage the Pirates to a 70-75 win season.
Redbird Rants looks at the never ending saga of Albert Pujols. The latest is that Pujols will veto any trade that is brought to him by the Cardinals. This puts the Cardinals in an even worse position than what they were originally in. As now it is either sign Pujols, or let him walk for nothing. I think that Pujols saying he will veto any trade does not mean he wants to remain a Cardinal, but instead means that he does not want to deal with the constant rumors involving him as the trade deadline approaches. This is a story that is not going away any time soon, and has all of baseball watching.