2008 Preview - NL Central
Note to the Goat Readers: this is a long, long post. Like the hefty He-Man I am, I was going to break it into two, but I just don't have time.
Note to Rob: if you want to contribute to this, EMail me your answers and I'll post 'em on your behalf in a silly color. Rob: I was drunk and/or hungover the entire weekend in the Quad Cities. Them hicks can drink AND smoke. I forgot. My throat and lungs are just...shot... Enjoy.
NL Central Preview
Predicted standings (with records and brief comments for explanation):
Kurt: Chicago Cubs: 120-42. This is the year, kiddos. Not only will the Cubs win, but they're going to win in such an epic, mind-blowing way that we will be left with no doubt that 2008 is the single greatest year in Cubs history. But, let's be honest, there's no way that a brief explanation can do this prediction justice. Suffice to say, a follow-up post will ensue in which I attempt to mathematically prove that it's possible for the Cubs to win 120 games this coming season. Oh, and that clanging sound you're hearing? I can confirm that it belongs to my balls.
Milwaukee Brewers: 92-70. They're a good team who will be the major competition out of the NL Central for the next half decade. And yet, fate has been a cruel mistress to Brewers fans, and they will miss the playoffs yet again this season.
St. Louis Cardinals: 78-84. Who would've thought that I'd give the Cardinals a pity placement in the standings? 78 wins might be a little much for this heaping pile of a baseball team.
Houston Astros: 73-89. Tough times in Houston. Maybe they'll do better than this if the Cubs somehow fail to win 120 games as I have fearlessly predicted, but in a division with two playoff-caliber teams, Houston falls far short from a winning record.
Cincinnati Reds: 72-90. God bless you, Dusty Baker. You're going to take an 85 win team and kill them. For the sake of high-strung Cub fans everywhere, thanks for that.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 58-104. Baseball can be tough on people. Just ask Cub fans. When I was in high school, my golf teacher was a huge Pirates fan. He was also an unmitigated dick. When the Cubs win almost every game they play against the Pirates, I hope to see him, just once, so I can collect his tears with a spoon and taste their sorrowful flavor.
Was that creepy? Nah. Moving on.
Kyle: Cubs: 95-67. Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Lord knows I can. The Cubs have the offense and the bullpen to pull off a repeat division win, just don't expect it to be easy. This, of course, will lead me to pulling out another 20% of my hair and probably drinking Old Style excessively.
Brewers: 88-74. I know exactly one person who is actually a Brewers fan. He hates his life, and I hate him. The Crew will come close to catching the division for the second year in a row but fall short in the last two weeks.
Reds: 82-80. OK, I'm kind of on the Reds bandwagon, but I've been on it for a while. I went to three games last season when the Cubs played the Reds and I was surprisingly impressed. They have some good young talent (Baker won't play them) with experienced veterans (Baker will play them too much and they will disintegrate). Something might be holding this team back though...hmmm...
Cardinals: 77-85. I have a large alcohol-related bet with a friend who is a Cards fan about where St. Louis will finish this year, so those losers better lose. I predict Pujols will be out for the season by the All-Star Break, thus making my bet look so much stronger than it already was.
Astros: 72-90. I don't know what to think of these guys. They could be decent but they could be terrible. Let's go with slightly terrible. I do know that while Felix Pie had twisted nuts, Kaz Matsui has anal fissures. Could you imagine if him and Pie were on the same team this year (and it almost actually happened)?
Pirates: 65-97. Oh Pittsburgh. Remember when you traded FOR Matt Morris last season? That's all you need to know about the Pirates and the direction of this team.
Jason: 1. Cubs 93-69 - Isn't it obvious? It's been 100 years. 100 is one of the most exciting numbers in numerology as it is both big and round and, as such, reveals the Cubs destiny. This is the year. It will happen. It must happen. Three word sentence. Three word sentence. Three word sentence.
2. Brewers 87-75 - The Brewers just didn't improve enough to gain my respect. And frankly, it's going to take a lot for any team that races sausages to gain my respect.
3. St. Louis 85-77 - I think they should be much worse than this predicted record, but then I remember that god hates me and the Cardinals always do better than expected. But if Pujols pops the rest of his elbow, no amount of god-wrath will help them.
4. Astros 77-85 - The Astros, composed entirely of stupid-heads, suck. There, I said it. Someone had to.
5. Reds - 77-85 - Sure, it's easy to laugh at Reds fans for having to endure a season of Dusty Baker and Corey Patterson...and it's fun too! Let's all point and laugh at the Red fans! Ha ha!
6. Pirates - 67-95 - Do they still play baseball in Pittsburgh? If so, they should really stop.
Rob: 1. Cubs 87-75 - Pray that The Riot learns some plate discipline..
2. Brewers 86-76 - It's gonna be a close one, kids...
3. Reds 82-80 - .500 will be an accomplishment for this star-crossed team, who will be taking guys out of the stands to pitch games by September...
4. Asstrolls 79-83 - cutting Woody Williams just bought them about 4 more wins, even if they trot out a disabled manatee as a fifth starter...
5. Pirates 71-91 - Nyjer, Please...
6. Deadbirds 67-95 - THIS is the year LaRussa chokes on his cardinal red kool aid. Hit it to Ankiel, fellas...
Top Impact player in NL Central:
Kurt: Fukudome is the obvious choice, but I think that Aramis Ramirez is going to have a season unlike anything we've seen since the glory days of Sosa.
Kyle: I have to go with my boy Aramis Ramirez. He doesn't have to hit a lot of homers but he is going to get a ton of RBI with so many people on base. Glorious.
Jason: Carlos Zambrano. I full expect him to reach his age in wins but, failing that, he'll at least post a solid 22 spot. He's going to be the top pitcher in the Central and nothing beats a good ace. Except for Snoopy who beat the Red Baron, but that's neither here nor there.
Rob: Can I still hold out hope for Brian Roberts?
Top player, as a Cubs fan, that you fear:
Kurt: Corey Patterson. You reading this, Dusty? I'm afraid of Corey Patterson. His deadly mixture of power and speed makes him a force to be reckoned with at the top of any lineup. So please, Dusty, I'm on my proverbial knees begging you, please don't bat him leadoff against the Cubs. Please don't ensure that he gets more at bats in a game than any other Red - especially Adam Dunn. Sure, Adam Dunn has absolutely killed the Cubs throughout his career, sure, the Cubs are collectively his bitch, but he doesn't scare me at all. Nope, not one bit. Corey Patterson, though, that guy's going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Kyle: Aaron Harang. This guy always seems to get the best of the Cubs. I really can't explain it, I just hate him with every part of my existence.
Jason: Okay, so I fear Lance Berkman. I know the stats don't back me up (although he's good), but he always seems to make bad things happen to the Cubs. He's like a great, big, trashy voodoo doll.
Rob: Big Prince. Will be eating meat again by June.
Most Surprising Impact Player in the NL Central:
Kurt: Surprising, you say? Tough call. If Dusty Baker works his magic, then Johnny Cueto just might lead all rookie pitchers in games started, innings pitched, pitches per game, and consequently wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Fortunately for the rest of us NL Centralists, once he's had surgery on his elbow, shoulder, or both, we won't have to worry about Cueto again for at least a couple of years.
Kyle: Hunter Pence. Remember this guy? He has got all the skills to be a solid player at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. He's still going to have some good protection around him so he'll have pitches to hit. His team will still suck though.
Jason: This is the year that Xavier Nady finally breaks out. My reasoning? People's destiny is determined by their name and a name like that must belong to a winner or my name isn't Ernie Dinklefwat.
Rob: The rest of the world thinks Fooky is going to be a big Japanese money pit. That .400 OBP gonna cause some anal fissures all over the NL this year.
Biggest Disappointment (not disappointing to you in particular, but to the universe):
Kurt: Albert Pujols. This is the optimist in me speaking - as opposed to the realist in me, who predicted a 120-win season for the Cubs - but it would be nice if his age finally caught up with him. More realistically, while it was a smart move for the Cardinals to pick up the ever-powerful Troy Glaus, I have a strong feeling that he's not going to be mashing them anymore. He Got Hammered by a back injury. Surely This Ends tRoy's Offensive Impact, Dude.
Kyle: Rick Ankiel. He had the Midas Touch last season but I don't think he's going to produce as an everyday player. I know St. Louis-ians(?) are predicting big things for this guy but I'm not buying it...and I refuse to sniff glue.
Jason: Jason Bay - Last year was bad, this year would be worse. I'm not sure what the problem is, but my guess is it's rooted in a deep-seated emotional issue.
Rob: The Great Johan. Ain't gonna like a place with five daily papers.
Next to be suspended for steriods (and we're totally kidding, no slander or libel here):
Kurt: Neifi Perez. That little guy just won't learn that, no matter how many drugs he injects or swallows into his tiny body, he still couldn't hit his way out of a little league infield.
Kyle: Adam Dunn. Big Donkey hit a ball (although it was slightly foul) about a quarter of a mile last season at Wrigley. I know he is big...but damn!
Jason: J J. Hardy. I don't even remember what he looks like, but I just have a feeling. Oh yeah, and Albert Pujols.
Rob: (observing lifetime ban on steroids talk)
Most likely to end up stuck in a doorway:
Kurt: Is this a trick question? Is Bottenfield still playing? No? Isn't Prince Fielder the obvious choice?
Kyle: Remember that Burger King commercial when the dad hamburger is trying to beat up his son's friend who is hitting on his daughter but he can't get through the doorway? Daryle Ward is dangerously close to becoming a hamburger.
Jason: The obvious answer is Prince Fielder, but that's just too obvious. So I'm going to say the cow he brings in to slaughter and eat raw in a fit of iron deficiency gets stuck in the doorway.
Name the Earth-Shattering event that rocks the NL Central and, by extension, the world:
Kurt: After the Cubs win 120 regular season games, they will rocket through the post season without suffering a single loss. The Cubs will finish October with a 11-0 record, including an amazing 1.35 ERA from Jason Marquis, who actually loses his role in the rotation because, compared with the others, he's just not pitching up to snuff.
That and it turns out that Aramis Ramirez doesn't just FIGHT his cocks, and yet we still love him.
Kyle: The St. Louis Cardinals will sign Barry Bonds sometime this season. As I write this very comment, my Cardinals buddy is sitting next to me saying, "I hate Barry Bonds but we (Cardinals) would be instant contenders for the World Series". What a disturbing little world people from St. Louis live in.
Jason: I win a pulitzer for writing on Goat Riders. I know, I'm shocked too*.
(* admit it, you're not that surprised)
Rob: The whole premise of this website was twofold upon its conception in 2004: 1) if the Cubs DID fulfill the popular prophecy of the times, and win the World Championship, there would be a rending of the Earth's crust and all modern life would be sucked into it, aka an Apocalypse, or 2) if Baker managed to miss out on winning said World Championship with that pitching staff and offense, that a mini-apocalypse would occur in the Cubs' front office, accusations made public, and heads would roll. Well, the only head that rolled was Stoney's. Jeez. Gotta figure there will be a bigger bloodletting, closer to the heart, if the 2008 version shits the bed the same way.
If you could have one NL Central player on the Cubs, who would it be:
Kurt: I'm not going to name a starting pitcher, because any top NL Central ace would be an obvious choice. I'm going with J.J. Hardy. Granted, he's not a game-breaking offensive juggernaut, but, well, he sort of is a game-breaking offensive juggernaut when compared with Ryan Theriot. The Cubs are a good middle infielder away from being an amazingly scary offensive squad, in my opinion.
Kyle: It has to be a starting pitcher. This team is in desperate need of another superstar arm. It could be the difference-maker if this team is going to win the World Series (even though they'll win anyway). So I'm taking Roy Oswalt. He's experienced and a big-game pitcher. Just what the Cubs need.
Rob: Ditto. God, the Asstrolls wouldn't finish first in the East Suburban Catholic League without Oswalt.
Jason: Honestly, I can't think of any position player I'm dying to have on the Cubs. I guess J. J. Hardy would be the best bet given out lack of a dominant Shortstop.
And finally, word association. Name the player who first comes to mind:
Kurt: Carlos Zambrano - even if he says it wasn't a perm.
Kyle: Felix Pie (dogs...castration...get it?)
Jason: Corey Patterson, overbred and none too bright.
Rob: Mark Prior.
Fish Sticks -
Kyle: So Taguchi (I miss you already)
Jason: Ken Griffey, Jr (I don't imagine fish sticks would make it through an entire baseball season without breaking in half either)
Rob: Sergio Mitre?
Albert Pujols -
Kurt: Julio Franco.
Kyle: Future teammate Barry Bonds
Jason: Albert Pujols. Wait, what?
Kyle: Tony LaRussa
Jason: Tony La Russa (what, he's a former player)
Kurt Corey Patterson.
Kyle: Daryle "Mr. Hamburger" Ward
Jason: Ronnie Cedeno. Sorry, chipmonks of the world.
And finally, what will be Corey Patterson's final line?
Kurt: .355 AVG, 60 doubles, 20 triples, 30 homers, 140 RBI, and an OBP of .365. Y'hear that, Dusty? MVP material!
Now that Dusty's not looking ... .220 AVG, 15 doubles, 3 triples, 6 HR, 25 RBI, .255 OBP. He's pretty much done after June.
Kyle: .272, 12 homers, 65 RBI, .280 OBP
Jason: Probably something like "Guuuurrrrgggghhhh" when the Cincy fans murder him.
Rob: I've been very successful in my Major League career up to this point doing it my way. I don't see the reason to change any part of my game now.