January 16th, 2014

Hey-What Am I Thinking About The National League?

It won’t be long. Nope, it won’t be long until we read the words…”The equipment trucks left today for Arizona-Florida.” Are those great words, or what?

I just don’t see the Braves having the same type of impact they had last season. I think the team will miss the leadership of Brian McCann. Some guys are really important to a club. For me, he was one of them. Nothing against Evan Gattis. They need help at second base and they have to get some return from B J Upton.

IMO Miami is one of the most exciting future teams in the game. Their pitching is so deep they will have the luxury of letting guys develop longer in the farm system. One of my sleeper guys for the year is Nathan Eovaldi. If he can gain command, watch out!

I’ve always liked Chris Young. I think if he gets to play regularly, Mets fans will see an outstanding defensive outfielder. He’s a streaky hitter, but he has some real pop. Tough park for power. Granderson was a big offensive pick up for them. Better year for them.

I think this will be the last shot for this group of Phillies. They may break up the band and go their separate ways if the team doesn’t win. They need a comeback from Ryan Howard and strong pitching after Hamels and Lee. Father time isn’t kind.

On paper, the Nationals seem loaded to me. Better than last year with a healthy Ryan Zimmerman/Bryce Harper all year. I see a huge year ahead for Harper. And now they added Doug Fister to an already strong rotation. I like the club. Lots.

The Cubs are still in a waiting mode as their prospects continue to develop. When a mascot makes big news, it’s like starting a fire to divert attention from a fire elsewhere. Where’s the beef? I have a two word suggestion for Cubs fans. It’s one they have never heard before. “Be patient.” Oh, right. They have heard that before. Sorry.

Can Billy Hamilton get on base? I’m not convinced yet. I like the rotation but I think they’ll miss Bronson Arroyo if he leaves. And of course, Choo is gone already. Hamilton has to get on base to make things happen. Can’t steal first. Unless it’s at night with the lights out and nobody’s watching. Then you can put it in your trophy case.

How long has it been since the Brewers had a first baseman? Well-they still don’t have a first baseman. Jonathan Lucroy is underrated as a catcher. I love watching Khris Davis hit. He has sneaky power. But let him play. Even if he slumps. Let him play.

I think Pittsburgh could use Bronson Arroyo and….here’s that name again….Nelson Cruz. But, it’s not my money. The Pirates are thisclose to winning. I think both Arroyo (or another starter) and Cruz could really make a huge difference.

The Cardinals are the most perfectly balanced, complete team heading in to Spring Training. I can’t find an unmet need.

The Diamondbacks addition of Mark Trumbo to protect Paul Goldschmidt and lengthen the lineup was huge. Also-adding Addison Reed to the bullpen allows the 6-9th inning roles to be defined with quality and depth. Great moves. They need one or two starting pitchers. Especially with health issues surrounding Brandon McCarthy. I look for Archie Bradley at some point during the year. Maybe not in April.

I love the Rockies offense. But it’s very tough to pitch at Coors. Even with the humidor. They will greatly miss Dexter Fowler. However, I look for a big year from Drew Stubbs. Even if he isn’t a starter. He’ll hit those gaps in the outfield and run, run, run.

Somebody in the Dodgers organization has to take Yasiel Puig either under his wing and mentor him or take him to the woodshed. He’s wasting unbelievable talent on immature behavior. It’s a concern. I love the club. What if they get Tanaka? Yikes! They may never lose two games in a row.

What if Carlos Quentin could play, say, 150 games? What could he be? What if Chase Headley and Seth Smith come through? What if their pitchers get healthy? Luebke, Weiland and Kelly. That law firm can do some serious pitching. I like the Padres. If they can get on the field healthy and stay on the field healthy.

As I wrote on MLBPipeline.com, I think Angel Villalona might be able to add some power during the season for the Giants. It’s a long shot, but stranger things have happened. I still love what Hunter Pence brings–energy, a solid bat and weird mechanics in every phase of his game. The Giants could return to form. I’m pulling for Tim Lincecum.

Huge question marks linger in the league. Like Dan Uggla ever hitting? Giancarlo Stanton seeing pitches to hit? Ike Davis and Lucas Duda getting untracked? Dom Brown showing if last year was more his norm? Manager Matt Williams getting the most out of very talented Nationals players? Starlin Castro realizing his potential? the Reds finding a replacement leadoff hitter? Ryan Braun putting the past in the past and hitting like Ryan Braun? The Pirates finding a solid right fielder? The Cardinals Wacha Kelly and Miller repeating? Miguel Montero learning how to hit again for the Dbacks? Wilin Rosario making continued improvement behind the plate for the Rockies? Ramirez, Crawford, Kemp and Ethier staying healthy? The Padres able to staff a healthy rotation for an entire year? Pablo Sandoval working hard to keep the weight down for the Giants? And many, many more I’ll discuss going forward.

That’s it. I’m done.

Thanks for following my articles on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. Catch my podcast with Derek VanRiper every week on iTunes.
And, as always. Thanks for reading.