Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Let me start by saying that I do not believe the Pirates are going to be a bad team this year, however they didn't make significant additions but lost key players like Neil Walker and Pedro Alverez. I believe they are going to be the third place team and I apologize to all Pirates fans. Don't worry they'll be back in the spot light soon. Now onto the battle for first place.
The Cubs are the favorites to win the NL Central and the World Series. Now if you've read my blog before you'll know I am a Cubs fan. I'm going to stay as unbiased as I can because the Cardinals are a good team. So let's start with the additions, subtractions & re-signings for both teams.
Cubs Additions & Re-Signings
  1. Jason Heyward OF
  2. Ben Zobrist 2B
  3. John Lackey RHP
  4. Adam Warren RHP
  5. Rex Brothers LHP
  6. Trevor Cahill RHP
Cubs Subtractions
  1. Dexter Fowler CF
  2. Starlin Castro SS/2B
  3. Chris Denofia OF
  4. Austin Jackson OF
  5. Dan Haren RHP
  6. Tommy Hunter RHP
  7. Jason Motte RHP
  8. Fernando Rodney RHP
The Cubs additions are significant, especially for the Cardinals. They pouched the Cardinals two best players from 2015 in Heyward and Lackey. Adding Zobrist as well gives them a switch hitting On-Base threat that can play almost every position. The addition of Adam Warren will have him competing with Kyle Hendricks for the fifth starter spot. He did very well for the Yankees in an AL hitter friendly ballpark. I believe Warren will end up taking the fifth spot at some point. The subtractions are also fairly significant. Dexter Fowler was a great lead off hitter but a bad defender. His lose is a win-lose, but the addition of Heyward makes it lean towards a win. The lose of Starlin Castro was had me fairly disappointed. He was a fan favorite of mine and going to the Yankees makes it cut a little deeper. Javier Baez' transition to the outfield this winter will make up for the loses of Denorfia and Jackson. He's should play better in the outfield with his range and throwing arm. John Lackey is a vast improvement over Dan Haren and they already have a stacked bullpen to make up for those loses. I would have liked them to have added another lefty in case Brothers falters. The Cubs still have plenty of prospects to add if someone gets hurt.
Now to the Cardinals.
Cardinals Additions & Re-Signings
  1. Jedd Gyorko 2B/3B
  2. Brayan Pena C
  3. Mike Leake RHP
  4. Jonathan Broxton RHP
  5. Adam Wainwright RHP (Return)
Cardinals Subtractions
  1. Jason Heyward OF
  2. Mark Reynolds 1B
  3. Jon Jay OF
  4. Pete Kozma 2B
  5. Peter Bourjas OF
  6. John Lackey RHP
  7. Steve Cishek RHP
  8. Randy Choate LHP
  9. Carlos Villanueva RHP
  10. Lance Lynn RHP (Tommy John) 
The Cardinals additions are not significant but their loses are huge. The return of Wainwright to replace Lackey is an improvement at the top of the rotation. I have previously stated that I don't think Cardinals pitching is very good. I predicted it would be their downfall in the NLDS against either the Cubs or Pirates because of their WHIP. I was right. Wainwright makes a big difference because Lackey's WHIP is not good for a number one especially compare to Wainwright. Mike Leake as the replacement was not my favorite move. I Cardinals missed out on David Price, but I was disappointed that they didn't have a better back up plan. Leake has the same problem the rest of the Cardinals rotation have and that's a high WHIP. If the bullpen fixes that it won't be as problematic. I did however have trouble building the deeper part of their bullpen. Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney break the bullpen but they are primarily starters so they'll have to make a transition. Jordan Walden and Miguel Socolovich didn't pitch at much last year and will need to prove they still can go. Then there is Sam Tuivailala. He's flame throwing rookie who had is cup of coffee last season. He also has a big WHIP issue but he's young and will make adjustments. The rest of the bullpen I have issues with, mainly WHIP like I've been preaching. Trevor Rosenthal is a good closer, but he get's in jams too often and it will come back to haunt him. I like Kevin Siegrist as a set up man, but I don't like Jonathan Broxton for the 6th or 7th inning. He did better for the Cardinals than the Reds so it's a wait and see for him. The rotation is still an issue for me as well. You guessed it, WHIP. I believe Michael Wacha's will go down as he gets older. I prefer him as a three but he's a fine two. Mike Leake is their three and Carlos Martinez is probably their four. Jaime Garcia did well in his return from injury but got lit up in the NLDS. He can be a good three but will have to work his way back up.
To finish this off let's highlight strengths and weaknesses.
Cubs Strengths
  1. Power Hitting
  2. On-Base Percentage
  3. Clutch Hitting
  4. Starting Pitching
  5. Bullpen
  6. Management
Cubs Weaknesses
  1. Outfield Defense
  2. Reliance on the Long Ball
  3. Striking Out
  4. Experience
Cardinals Strengths
  1. Clutch Hitting
  2. Lead Off Hitting
  3. Number 1 Starter
Cardinals Weaknesses
  1. Power Hitting
  2. Starting Pitching
  3. Bullpen
  4. Management
Let me clarify a few things. Strength and Weakness not listed for one team means it's neutral. A good example is the Cardinals On-Base Percentage. It's fine probably middle of the pack or a little higher. As for management, I don't like Matheny. He doesn't like change and doesn't make enough adjustments when it comes to young players.
 The Cubs have more strengths than the Cardinals and a little of that is probably bias, but the Cardinals are neutral in a lot of category. So I have the Cubs winning the NL Central. I have the going to the World Series. I believe they can win, but the defending champion Royals, the youthful Astros, the revamped Red Sox and power hitting Blue Jays can give them trouble. Plus the Mets stopped them last year before they could reach the World Series. With all that said, Go Cubs Go!!

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