NL Preview

NL

1. ST Louis Cardinals: Every single year the Cardinals have two or three prospects on the horizon waiting to make their big splash in the Major’s. Last year it was Michael Wacha, Matt Adams, and Shelby Miller. This year it is Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, and Kolten Wong. That’s why the Cardinals are good every year… Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in the national league. When he gets you in a 1-2 count, he throws you a devastating breaking ball, that’s simply unhittable. He does a great job of forcing hitters into tough counts… Matt Adams has serious power. If he gets 500 at bats he could smack 30 homers. He is so strong… Matt Carpenter is one of the most underrated players in baseball. He isn’t a power hitter, he is a gap to gap hitter. He’ll hit 50 doubles this year… Yadier Molina could win MVP. He doesn’t swing to hit home runs (even though he has the power), he hits to get on base. He is a better defensive catcher than anyone in the league… Michael Wacha is a classic downhill pitcher. He could have an even better year than last year… I’ll take Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn at three and four any day. Closer Trevor Rosenthal is a quality young arm. He throws a 96 mph fastball with a slider. He could be the difference between winning and losing the World Series.

2. Cinncinatti Reds: The Reds are so excited to see what Billy Hamilton will be able to do. If he gets on base more often and play’s a full season he could steal 70-80 bases. He is a superstar in the making… Brandon Phillips has little upside. Right now he is batting .270 with 20 homers. If he gets traded and is stuck in a pitcher friendly ball park, then he’s just another second baseman… The Reds rotation is as good as it gets. If Johnny Cueto stays healthy he will get back to 2012 levels. Mat Latos is a solid power pitcher. I like how he uses his 96 mph fastball to counter his slider… Tony Cingrani could have a breakout season. Eventhough he throws his fastball 82% of the time he knows how to locate… Joey Votto is not a slugger anymore. He may not even hit 25 home runs, but he may bat .320. Votto is getting smarter and smarter every year… Aroldis Chapman is such an effective closer. He could throw 95% fastball’s and still be a top 10 closer.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers: Yasiel Puig is an athletic freak. He weighs 245 pounds, and he will still steal 20 or more bases this season. If he gets more patient, then he could bat .310… Matt Kemp is on and off the DL, that it gets to the point where they should trade him. They could either get a second baseman, a prospect, or a quality third baseman. Maybe it is time to wheel and deal Kemp and Andre Eithier. It opens up room for outfield prospect Joc Pederson anyway… Hanley Ramirez is the best hitter on this team. MVP candidate, no question about it. Last year in a half a season he batted .345, hit 20 home runs, and batted in 57 runs. Most shortstops don’t put those numbers up in a full season… I am not sure about Carl Crawford. He came into camp healthy, but some injury always creeps up on him. Take away first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and the Dodgers didn’t get a ton of value in the Boston Red Sox trade. Both Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford have done nothing in Los Angeles… There is nothing more to say about Clayton Kershaw. He is the best pitcher in the game. AL and NL, no one dominates like him… At first I didn’t like Hyun-Jin-Ryu, but I started to realize how well he could locate his fastball. In his first start he threw ten straight pitches all fastball’s right on the outside corner that tested the hitter. That’s something special, that not many pitchers can do… With Kershaw, Zach Greinke, and Ryu, at one, two, and three, that’s one heck of a rotation… Los Angeles should win five to ten more games now that Kenley Jansen is their closer.

 

4. Washington Nationals: It starts and ends with pitching for the Nationals. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, and Doug Fister all in one rotation is video game like. I thought Gonzlez’s curveball was getting too hittable. It moved a lot, but when it is 77 mph, the hitter’s see it coming. I want to see more fastball’s out of him, even though I like variety… Stephen Strasburg still doesn’t have great command. He has fantastic stuff, but you cannot utilize your pitches when you have average command. Once he gets more experience and command he will be one of the best in the game… Last year I thought Drew Storen tried to be too good because he wanted to win the closer job. He didn’t throw comfortably, he threw like he was being rushed. Instead of being himself, he struggled… I am not sure if young outfielder Bryce Harper is ready for the wear and tear of one full baseball season. He is a very toolsy player, but he gets hurt too often. If he stays healthy he could have a huge, all around year… I think Ian Desmond wants to move onto a different team. After declining a five year 90 million dollar contract, you have to think he wants to move on. That or he doesn’t want to commit to a long term deal. Still Desmond is a top tier shortstop… Anthony Rendon is such a talented player. He made the jump from double A ball to the Major’s, and he exceled. He has 20 home run potential.

5. Atlanta Braves: The Braves have taken a huge hit to their pitching staff. Starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are out for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Now Mike Minor has hit the 15 day DL. Still the offense is potent… Second baseman Dan Uggla could set the strikeout record this season… BJ Upton is going to have another subpar year. His lower half is starting to diminish along with his power. If he doesn’t have the hitting or speed that he once had then he will be released… Andrelton Simmons is ready to have a huge year. Defensively he is one of the best in the business. Offensively he should be the Braves leadoff hitter. I’m calling .280 with 20 home runs and 25 steals… Justin Upton isn’t the superstar he once was, but he is still a solid outfielder. The power is still there… Freddie Freeman is such a good player. He has such a good compact swing. That’s why he bats .300… Freddy Garcia is going to be the fifth guy in the rotation. I’m not in love with him, but I do admire how he battles and utalizes his offspeed pitches… Julio Teheran is starting develop into one of the better starters in the league. He really has a good two seam fastball… Craig Kimbrel is three up three down, every other night. He is the best closer in the game, no question about it. He could win the Cy Young award despite being a reliever.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have been waiting and waiting to be able to compete for a World Series, and now they are ready. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen is one of the best all around players in the game. He is such a team player, and to see an NL MVP working as hard as he is in spring is incredible… Third baseman Pedro Alvarez is there to hit home runs. Nothing else. He could be like Adam Dunn… Starling Marte is almost as good as McCutchen. He is an adequate hitter with lots of speed. Even when he was hurt last season he stole 41 bases… Russel Martin behind the plate made the difference for the Pirates last season. People don’t give him enough credit… Gerrit Cole is ready to dominae the majors. He tweaked his command in the minors, and worked on his curveball and slider. With him throwing 100 mph, and youngster Jameson Taillon throwing 98 the Pirates could have two young superstars in the making. Taillon is still in the minors, but he could be called up by late May to July… Francisco Liriano has one of the best fastball’s in the league. He really mastered that pitch… Mark Melancon had such a good season last season. He was the best setup man in the league… Jason Grilli still gets the job done at 37-years-old. Its amazing to think that a 37-year-old closer still has a 98 mph fastball. Most 25-year-olds don’t pitch that fast.

7. Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers are finally putting the pieces together… With Ryan Braun returning, you get another guy who can bat .300 with 25 home runs. Still, I do not know how much the PED’s effected his game… Jonathan Lucroy is a very underrated catcher. I really think he could have a better season than last year… I think Carlos Gomez should leadoff insted of Jean Seagura. Gomez is such a talented player. With him and Seagura batting 1 and 2, there could be 70 stolen bases between them. Quite frankly, the addition of Mark Reynolds isn’t going to do the Brewers any good. He strikes out 200 times a year. How could you have a guy like that on your team… With Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza, and Kyle Lohse at 1, 2, and 3 in the rotation, the Brewers could get consistent starts every 3 out of five nights… Kyle Lohse is one of my favorite pitchers. His ERA is consistently low, and he doesn’t focus on striking guys out… Gallardo is a question mark. His iffy mechanics helps you understand his iffy results… Marco Estrada could really move up the rotation. If Gallardo struggling at no.1, then Garza will move up to no.1, and Estrada will move to 3 instead of five… The bullpen is solid. You could either have Jim Henderson or Francisco Rodriguez close. I haven’t seen Jim Henderson’s stuff yet, but I like how Rodriguez paints the outside corner with his fastballs. Rodriguez’s changeup is so effective. I would rather see Rodriguez close over Henderson.

8. Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks made one trade that could hurt them down the stretch. Trading away prospect Tyler Skaggs. They got power hitter Mark Trumbo, but right now the Diamondbacks need pitching… Paul Goldschmidt should have won NL MVP last season. I thought he out played McCutchen. He is such a good hitter… Mark Trumbo is a classic slugger. Every fifteen at bats he crushes a home run. Every other fourteen at bats he strikes out five times… Trading Adam Eaton wasn’t a big loss. They’ll just get Gerrardo Parra or AJ Pollock to lead off… I think Aaron Hill is a great second baseman. Offensively he is such a balanced hitter. He doesn’t focus on hitting home runs. He focus’s on getting the ball in play… Losing Patrick Corbin will hurt. But they have plenty of pitching depth anyway… Young prospect Archie Bradley is impressive. He has a 97 mph fastball and a breaking ball that drops three feet. The Diamondbacks are waiting to call him up… Bronson Arroyo is an average pitcher. His stuff is average, and his fastball tops out at 87. I don’t know how he was in Cincinnati’s depthy rotation… Wade Miley is a good young pitcher. With him and Trevor Cahill at one and two, there could be 30 wins between them.

9. San Francisco Giants: The only reason the Giants lost so many games was because of run support… Brandon Belt is really improving as a hitter. His power is starting to develop… You’d think since Pablo Sandoval weighs 260 pound he would be able to hit 30 home runs a year. He barely reaches 20… The addition of Michael Morse isn’t going to do the Giants any good. I would rather have Gregor Blanco in leftfield than Michael Morse any day. Morse will swing at practically anything. He is on the down slope of his career… I don’t know what the Giants should do with Marco Scutaro. If they traded him ,then they would make room for prospect Joe Panik… Angel Pagan had a tough year last season due to injuries. He’s a decent leadoff hitter… With Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain at 1 and 2, and Tim Lincecum at a mediocre 3, the Giants are in need of pitching… Bumgarner is almsot a side arm pitcher. He throws 91, but he has an excellent cutters that is almost unhittable for lefties. Lincecum doesn’t have the same stuff as he once had. His fastball is down to 89 now… Tim Hudson is okay at no.4. He doesn’t have the stuff to strike guys out anymore. He really rely’s on his his infield, too much… I think Sergio Romo is an average closer. He throws so many sliders, and his fastball only tops out at 88. He’s adequate for now.

10. San Diego Padres: Did the PED’s help Everth Cabrera? Probably not. He’s never been much of a power guy anyway. He had 37 steals despite a 50 game suspension. He has 50 steals potential… Carlos Quentin is a consistent home run threat, but he gets hurt so much. If he stayed healthy for one entire season he could hit 30 home runs… Yonder Alonso is just “another first baseman”, I don’t no why Bud Black bats him second. I think Jedd Gyorko should bat there… Gyorko has a lot of power potential. Hitting 23 home runs in 486 at bats in your rookie year is pretty good. His weakness is pitch recognition. If he got better at that than he will be a perennial all-star… I think Joaquin Benoit should close over Huston Street. He doesn’t change speeds very often unlike Benoit… Cashner could have a breakout year. He doesn’t walk many, and he throws strikes.

11. Colorado Rockies: It may be time to trade supertstar Troy Tulowitzki for pitchers or prospects. It’s not a bad move because Josh Rutledge can take over at short… Carlos Gonzalez put up a full season of stats in a half a year. He is such a talented player… Justin Morneau is not the same player he once was when he won MVP in 2009. He has aged, and his bat doesn’t have as much life as it once did… Wilin Rosario is a great catcher. He is more of an offensive guy, but he has a good arm. He’s only 25-years-old… Nolan Arenado is a good young third baseman. I think he could be an all-star in a couple of years… Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Brett Anderson at one, two, and three in the rotation is okay… Juan Nicasio is the only one on the team with power stuff. He could be the surprise arm in the Rockies rotation… The bullpen is mediocre. Rex Brothers and Latroy Hawkins are going to switch off at the closer’s spot. I thought it was supposed to an obvious decision for manager Walt Weiss. Brothers has way more upside than Hawkins.

12. Philedalphia Phillies: With Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and AJ Burnett, the Phillies could 3 out of 5 seven inning quality starts a week. They leave the rest up to their offense… Second baseman Chase Utley is finally healthy. I don’t think he will get back to 20 steals, but 15 is well within his range… I am not even sure if Ryan Howard will hit more than 25 home runs this season. His entire lower half has diminished. He isn’t as quick to the ball… Ben Revere is a great leadoff hitter. He is like Denard Span in the sence that their both good hitters with lots of speed… Shortstop Jimmy Rollins is the last player that I would call a “team player”. The Phillies need to trade him… Domonic Brown was fantastic in the first half of last season and terrible in the second half. It was like the difference between night and day… With Hamels hitting the DL, it looks like their going to have to call up Jonathan Pettibone… Cliff Lee hasn’t changed a bit. He is still the same ace he was eight years ago. His curveball is one of the best in the game.

13. Miami Marlins: The Miami Marlins have traded all of their players away to get young prospects… Christian Yelich is a good young player. I would rather see him bat second rather than leadoff. He has great hitting skills. He remind me of a younger Nick Markakis… Giancarlo Stanton is a superstar. He is a complete player. He could blast 50 home runs if he stay’s healthy… Prospect Colin Moran is one of my favorite prospects. He has tremendous power and hitting ability. He is still a year or two away from being called up. Jarrod Saltalamachia is a huge upgrade from the catcher that the Marlins brought in last year. Saltalamachia has experience with good pitchers. He could really help Jose Fernandez… Fernandez is an ace. He is a no.1 on 80% of the teams in the league. He has power stuff. He throws three plus plus pitches. Fastball, slider, changeup, and not a slow slider at 79, a power slider at 88… Steve Cishek is going to waste. He is on a team that doesn’t get a lot of save oppurtunities. For this team he is okay. They could trade him to a better team, and get even better prospects. The Marlins aren’t a contender yet, but they will be in two years minimum. The surge of prospects are coming.

14. New York Mets: The Mets have a couple of good veterans in place… Third baseman David Wright is a superstar. He is such a developed veteran. It didn’t help the Mets when he got hurt last season… Ike Davis and Chris Young are good home run threats, but their too much swing and miss… Outfielder Curtis Granderson is a well rounded player, but injuries is starting to diminsih his power. The speed is already going… Zach Wheeler is a good young pitcher, he will pretty much replace Matt Harvey… Noah Syndergard is a good, young prospect that could be called up in early July. His stuff is fantastic, but the key in pitching is control and command… With Jon Niese finally healthy, the Mets could have four good starting pitchers. Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Zach Wheeler could all win ten games with a 3.80 ERA.

15. Chicago Cubs: If your going to write a scouting report on the Cubs, half of it will be about their prospect… Starlin Castro is extraordinarily inconsistent. He’ll make a supertsar play that will be on SportCenter then botch a routine double play. Last year he struggled because he waited to get his pitch. In the minor’s you can get away with that, not in the major’s… Javier Baez is going to begin the year at second. He is such a talented player. He is a small guy and he hits 30 or more home runs in the minor’s. With him and Castro and second and short, there could be some double plays there… I think the Cubs need to trade Mike Olt. It’s either having him or Kris Bryant play third, and Bryant has way more upside than Olt… Junior Lake is similar to Yasiel Puig. He could have a big year… The rotation is developing. Jeff Samardzija is a mediocre no.1. His breaking ball is getting better, but he is fourth starter on a good team.

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt: Goldy is such a complete player. Take away the home runs, and he still stole 15 bases last season. Last year’s statline: .302, 36 HR, 15 SB, 125 RBI, and he still didn’t win MVP. This year is his year.

NL Darkhorse MVP: Giancarlo Stanton: Throughout the first half of the season Stanton was not healthy. After he hit the DL, he came back as his old self. If he stays healthy 50 home runs is well within reach.

NL Cy Young: Jose Fernandez: Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game no question about it, but Fernandez is not far behind. The Cuban prodigy put up a 2.19 ERA with 187 strikeouts in only 172 innings last year in his rookie season. He could top that season now that the Marlins added a little bit to their offense.

NL Darkhorse Cy Young: Mat Latos: The 26-year-old power pitcher is poised for a big season. He has pitched more than 200 innngs in each of the past two season, and has had below a 3.50 ERA in the past three seasons. The Reds run support is only getting better, and it doesn’t hurt that Aroldis Chapman is one of the best closers in the game.

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton: A speedster that stole 13 bases in 13 games last season set a minor league record with 155 steals in 2012. If he plays a full season and improves his on base skills he could steal 80 bases.

NL Darkhorse Rookie of the Year: Kolten Wong: A talented second baseman from Hawaii could make his big splash in the major’s this season. He is a consistent slaps double type of hitter with speed and energy. Playing on a potential World Series team cannot hurt.

 

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

Wildcard: Cincinnatti Reds

Wildcard: Pittsburgh Pirates

NL Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

World Series Matchup (AL Champion vs NL Champion): Oakland Athletics vs St. Louis Cardinals: An intruiging matchup that includes some spectacular pitching staffs. Both offenses of the Cardinals and the Athletics are pretty good. I think the Cardinals will beat the Athletics. The Athletics simply don’t have the farm system that the Cardinals have. Prospects Carlos Martinez, Kolten Wong, and Oscar Taveras could make the difference.

About Sports Talk with Ari

I am a 14 year old sports blogger!
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