The Other Fifteen

Eighty-five percent of the f---in' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.


MLB.com previews the NL Central

I don't want to mock this too much, because... well, because it projects the Cubs to win the division and I like that. But.
The Cubs have their question marks, like will Fukudome, the new right fielder, hit Major League pitching as well as he hit Japan's Central League, where he had a career .305 batting average and .397 on-base percentage the last nine years?
I think it's rather safe to say that, in fact, Fukudome will NOT hit as well in the majors as he has in Japan. That's, um, facts and stuff. I still am more bullish on him than some, but that's neither here nor there.
Is Felix Pie ready to be the everyday center fielder? And is Geovany Soto ready to be the No. 1 catcher?

Um. I'm sure those are questions. I would counter with: Can Soto be any worse than the Barrett/Kendall/Hill/Bowen travesty we saw last season?
Legit questions, but those are overshadowed by a deep rotation led by Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly, a strong bullpen and a Derrek Lee/Alfonso Soriano-fueled offense that scored 752 runs a year ago and should top that this season.
Okay, so... Rich Hill and Aramis Ramirez don't bear mentioning here? And those questions are somehow overshadowed by the fact that the Cubs had the eighth-best offense in the NL last season in one of the NL's best hitter's parks? Oh...kay.
Biggest ST challenge: How will Lou Piniella utilize Kerry Wood? He can obviously set up, but he might be a dynamite closer. With power arms like Wood, Carlos Marmol and Bobby Howry to choose from, it's the kind of problem any manager would love to have.

So, the biggest challenge is... which of three pitchers you're going to designate to be routinely misutilized. I'm not even sure it matters. You don't think that, oh, maybe the starting rotation is a bigger concern?

Best position battles: Other than the back end of the rotation, where Jon Lieber, Sean Marshall and Ryan Dempster are among the candidates, the Cubs are pretty much set, with only bullpen and backup roles to be tweaked. Dempster is moving from closer to starter, but starting is a role he's handled well in the past.

Okay, so other than the fifth starter spot, it's settled. Obviously figuring out how the bullpen comes together - much more interesting.

Wild card: If Pie and Soto aren't ready and/or Ryan Theriot succumbs to a sophomore jinx, the Cubs offense could be plagued by the inconsistent stretches that befell it at times early last year.

Wait. Wait wait wait wait wait. You're talking about if Ryan Theriot gets worse?!? Not, like, if he just goes out there and repeats his mediocre (at best) performance from last year? Huh.

I won't even get into Muskat's spring training preview.

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1 Responses to “MLB.com previews the NL Central”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    if enough teams would let there rookie theriot's play, the sophomore jinx would no longer be a phenomenon...it's like beginner's luck, you don't keep playing if you lose from the outset.

    this is the exact reason why blogs are good for the media...drivel like this can be shown for what it is.  

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