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NL Central Looking Like Weakest Division

Please ignore that at 3-9, the Astros currently hold the worst record in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Half those losses are due to players that won't make the cut, but hey, records don't mean squat in spring training. Heck, the Rangers ended spring training in last place in 2010 and they went to the World Series.

Alas, please don't mistake me for saying the Astros, by transitive property, will go to the World Series. It just doesn't look like that's a possibility, and you didn't need me to tell you that.

But the Astros do seem to be playing in the easiest division, and it just got a whole lot easier. 

The 2011 NL Central won't be as horrific as 2008 NL Worst West. No, whoever comes out atop the NL Central will hopefully hone a higher winning percentage than that of the 2008 Dodgers (.519). But things in the NL Central just aren't going smoothly thus far, and there's no easy way to put it. 

St. Louis Cardinal's ace Adam Wainwright recently went down for the year and will need Tommy John Surgery. ESPN predicted that such a hit took the Cardinals playoff chances from 35% down to 20%. Who knows how he will recover, but that's besides the point. The Cardinals will look to replace Wainwright with P.J. Walters, Bryan Augenstein, or quite possibly Ian Snell. It also doesn't help that often injured Chris Carpenter is currently nagged by a left hamstring injury; does this team really have the depth to make a run? Jaime Garcia is coming off a solid rookie year, but are Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse really dependable? 

More after the jump...


Zach Greinke of the Brewers just got a hairline fracture in his ribs from playing pickup basketball, which deserves a palm to the face. Brewer faithfuls have had just two good teams since 1992, and this wasn’t the start they were hoping for. Greinke is expected to miss the beginning of the season. The Brewers have a formidable lineup, but questions exist in their bullpen. Is John Axford capable of closing out big games? No, not 5-2 games against the Pirates; can he handle the pressure than defines great closers? Also to be seen is how the Prince Fielder trade debacle will be handled. If the Brewers start losing, rumors start forming. That’s just how it goes, especially when you’re a small market team like Milwaukee.

Cubs fans are high on themselves like they usually are, but I just don’t understand why. Is it because ESPN whores around large market teams? Possibly. But facts are facts, and at 75-87, the Cubs finished 5th in the NL Central last year. Matt Garza was a nice pickup, but he's no Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, or any other top 10 pitcher. Sure he’s got ace potential, but so many players do nowadays. The Cubs also picked up Carlos Pena who hit an astounding  .196. National coverage aside, I'm just not sold on this team

The Pirates are the Pirates.

And the Astros, well, its looking like they’re going to need a lot of help. The Astros can pull it together, but this may just be the Reds year, again.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.