I previewed the National League Western Division for 2009 and where I thought the teams may finish. You can find it here if you care to add your two cents as to where you think the teams may finish.
Now I will take the time to analyze where the National League Central Division will end up for the year 2009.
It will be a cruel summer for the Reds this year. They lost too much offense and really need the pitching to pick up in order to compete. They will be competing with the Pirates and Astros to stay out of the cellar this year. It will be a long summer for the fans. Yet some might say in the team’s defense that the offense will receive their spark from Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. I just don’t see a team that is ready to be a threat to the top three in the division. Let’s just say the shocker will have the Reds replacing the Bucs as the sixth or last place club in the division. I challenge them to prove me wrong in 2009.
The National League Central has me hoping that when I go to see how Neal Huntington has improved the Pirates that they will be competitive for 2009. However being competitive and consistent can mean two different things. I just hope they start to fill a nucleus of players to build around again. According to some sources I have heard, the Pirates have coaches from other “winning organizations” to infuse winning back into the Pirates organization. From what I know, Neal should build the organization up through the farm system wich is what the Tribe’s goals have been also. With such a beautiful ballpark and an enjoyable time when I make the trek eastward and will again to see the Indians in the coming year as well as other games like the ones against the Mets perhaps, I hope to hear much enthusiasm from the fans as they rally behind the Bucs for another year. I just hope this means that the team on the field is closer to playing .500 and will be closer to contending once again. As for now, fifth place is still in the plans unfortunately. Hopefully the record will improve nevertheless.
It will not surprise me to see the Astros in fifth place this year. It will not surprise me to see them in third. The bottom three teams will be log jammed in this division battling to keep out of the cellar, so there is definite hope for the Pirate fans to possibly end up in third. Like the Pirates, I think .500 will be hard for the Astros to find also. the reason is that I think the top two teams will be that dominating in this division for 2009. Fourth place will be my call for the Astros for this year by default.
I really think this team is a weak third place team. Losing former Indian CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets really did not help this team. Yes they were able to get Hoffman. However, the rest of the pitching is weaker. I believe the offense will feel pressure to compensate for the loss of star pitchers especially if the offense gets into a slump. Luckily they have a quality manager in Ken Macha who will keep them competitive hopefully. He was able to keep the A’s teams in the race with him at the helm. Still, I will not be surprised to see them closer to fourth than second in this division in 2009. This team will see third place yet I believe it will be a disappointing third at that.
The only team that will put up a fight to the Cubs this year may be the Cardinals. With Carpenter coming back, and Pujols always a threat along with former Indian Ryan Ludwick, the Cards may be in contention and make the Cubs sweat a little. Still, they may be closer to the Brewers and the rest of the NL Central rather than the Cubs in 2009. I really think with no big name closer and missing out on Fuentes, the Cards may take a step back to third and have the Brewers at a weak second. Still, I pick them a weak 2nd place rather than third based merely on reputation.
When I see the Cubs this year, it reminds me of the division the Indians had in 1995 when they won by double digit games. The Cubs, I believe will be dominant in this division winning it also by at least 10, possibly 20 games leaving everyone in the dust. Former Indian Lou Pinella will have his team ready to win and conquer this division early. The depth on this team is tremendous and will have the Cubs in the driver’s seat of first place and in the playoffs once again in 2009.
I have no doubt about the Cubs this year at least going to the playoffs. Their depth is far greater than any other team’s depth in this division for 2009.
This deal almost made me drive off the side of the road. Pavano. The reason is because of what his track record was with the Yankees. Yet, it only can add to the depth of our staff. It sounds crazy to take on such a risk. Yet, in this man is still a hungry heart and a desire to win and prove to teams that he still has something in his tank that is valuable. I welcome this deal and believe the Indians are the right team to bring out the best in Pavano. Hopefully, Pavano can help us reach the next level.
Hey all baseball fans, the Indians do well to catch pitchers doing well when they have something to prove. I see this when seeing pitchers who are hungry and have something to prove. Millwood (2005), Lee (2008), and Sabathia (2007) are just three examples. Why not Pavano? A former teammate of the Yankees and Josh Beckett can help perhaps give insights to our staff and be quite a gem for us. It will be quite an adventure to see if it can help us resurrect us back to the playoffs and resurrect Pavano’s career. We shall see!
The definition of faith is believing is seeing. Two dreams I believe I will see: Pavano beats the Yankees in April in New York or in late May/early June in Cleveland and beats the Red Sox also, preferably Beckett! Keep on believing and go Tribe!
Today in recent history has been named Black Friday. My family celebrated by one of the “six pack” ticket plans. With fans deciding how to wisely spend their money and look forward to 2009 with optimism and a general love for the game of baseball, I thought I would be like my son and daughter and write a list of wishes to Santa Claus or even “Pronkta” Claus if it would help to share what I hope the Indians would bring me and all the other fans to help improve the team for 2009.
The 2008 Cleveland Indians’ bullpen started in theory where it left off in 2007 because of the success it showed in leading the team one win away from another World Series appearance. This decision showed how hard it is from year to year to produce success. A lot has to come together to make a consistent winner. Some would call it luck and this may indeed be the case. With careful planning, it can happen again. How about 2009? A fan like me can only hope! Where do the changes need to really take place, however?
The popular choice is closer. However, after Jensen Lewis what showed consistently in the last two months of the 2008 season acheiving 13 saves, one like myself would argue that a closer is not what this team needs to sign to be successful. The counter argument to this is that Jensen is not experienced enough. Thus a closer is exactly whom the team should sign to take the pressure off Lewis. It will be interesting to me what types of signings or trades they make to make the bullpen better. Also, what input if any, will Chuck Hernandez provide to make the Indians bullpen the best it can be?
If I were in charge of the Indians organization, I would go after the following people to help bolster the bullpen. First of all, I would not sign Hoffman. I look at his age and unfamiliarity with the league as reasons for this. This is why I am not a GM.
However, there are names I would go after such as Bob Howry whose 2005 effort really impressed me as we just missed the playoffs that year. I would also like to see Kyle Farnsworth would do on this team. I just think he might do well. As a Yankee and a Tiger, he was not great. However at the same time, he was not downright awful. He may just help bolster Raffy “right” and be insurance for the pen in certain games. These two are just some of the possible selections GM Shapiro and Asst. GM Antonetti have to look at. It will be interesting to see how it all comes together.as the signings and possible trades begin to heat up. Whatever happens or whomever they decide to get, Santa and Pronkta, I think what we would want overall is depth as well as consistency. However, isn’t this what every team wants? Stay tuned! Surprises await us all!
It was reported yesterday that Travis had the surgery that was once deemed unnecessary. All reports were that Pronk came through the arthroscopic surgery successfully. Physical therapy begins tomorrow at Progressive Field. The goal is to have Pronk at 100% by Opening Day 2009. We can only hope that a consecutive “comeback of the year” award is in store for the Indians organization just like an anticipated consecutive “AL Cy Young” also awaits the Indians. If all goes as planned, the majority of people I have had conversations about Hafner with who are naysayers can all be proven wrong. Time will tell! Best of luck to Travis, his family and the Indians for 2009!