Coming into the 2010 season, the Milwaukee Brewers return with similar talent. Sure the names and faces have changed, but it's a good debate if this team has actually improved. Even with some holes on their roster, the Brewers could still make the playoffs in 2010. Arguably all of the top tier teams in the NL Central have gotten worse this offseason. I know it's said frequently, but this division is up for grabs.
After each team profile, I will post the projected record of each team based on the newly released projected standings on baseballprospectus.com. Each players WAR (Wins above replacement level) for the 2009 season are posted in the parentheses.
Additions- Marlon Byrd (2.4), Xavier Nady (-0.1), Chad Tracy (-0.6) and Carlos Silva (-0.1)
Total WAR 1.6
Departures- Milton Bradley (1.0), Jake Fox (-0.1), Aaron Miles (-1.3), Aaron Heilman (0.2), Rich Harden (1.8), Reed Johnson (0.4), Kevin Gregg (-0.3)
Total WAR 1.7
While their WAR +/- is only a -0.1, the Cubs talent level has severely dropped this offseason. Although Milton Bradley is a troubled player, he is also very talented. Trading him for Carlos Silva made no sense at all. Not only is that a huge downgrade in talent, but the Cubs already had a better option for the rotation in 2010. If Silva pitches over Tom Gorzelanny next season, the Cubs might have made one of the worst trades in recent history.
BP record projection: 77-85
St. Louis Cardinals
Additions- Brad Penny (2.5) and Rich Hill (0.4)
Total WAR 2.9
Departures- Brad Thompson (0), Rick Ankiel (0.1), Troy Glaus (-0.2), Mark Derosa (1.7), Khalil Greene (-0.8), Joel Pineiro (4.8), John Smoltz (1.1) and Todd Wellemeyer (-0.3)
Total WAR 6.4
While I did like the Penny and Hill additions, I still think the Cardinals should have retained Pineiro and Smoltz. Too much emphasis what put on locking up Matt Holliday. Losing a 4.8 WAR player like Joel Pineiro is a huge blow to this team. If Smoltz is not retained, the Cardinals rotation has taken a huge step back. Everybody points to the Matt Holliday trade for why the Cardinals ran away with the division last year, but what about the pitching? Having a starting rotation combine for 17 WAR is just incredible. Even with the losses, the Cardinals have to be the favorite to keep the division crown in 2010.
BP record projection: 89-73
Additions- Brett Myers (-0.5), Cory Sullivan (0.1), Kevin Cash (0), Matt Lindstrom (0) and Brandon Lyon (0.7)
Total WAR 0.3
Departures- Jose Valverde (0.7), Miguel Tejada (2.6), LaTroy Hawkins (0.3), Mike Hampton (0.9) and Darin Erstad (-0.9)
Total WAR 3.6
No real explanation needed here. The Houston Astros are the Houston Astros. I am constantly questioning where this franchise is going. They spent 3yrs/$15 million on Brandon Lyon after a 0.7 WAR season. There's a short list of relievers who should garner that kind of money and Brandon Lyon's name is not on it. Ed Wade's transactions since taking over as GM have been really confusing. Maybe that's the reason he and Shawn Chacon don't see eye to eye.
Additions- Chris Burke (-0.2), Aroldis Chapman (-), Josh Anderson (-0.3) and Miguel Cairo (0.2)
Total WAR -0.3 (Obviously not including Chapman as he did not pitch in MLB in 2009)
Departures- Kip Wells (0.1), Jonny Gomes (0.6) and Edinson Volquez (0.3)
Total WAR 1.0
I really have no idea what to expect out of Aroldis Chapman. I guess the only certainty will be Dusty Baker logging unnecessary innings on his arm late in the year. Sure the Reds have some young talent coming back, but they just have too many holes. Anytime Willy Taveras gets playing time in CF, there's a problem.
BP record prjection: 82-80
Additions- Ryan Church (1.0), Jack Taschner (-0.2), Octavio Dotel (0.8), D.J. Carrasco (1.3), Brandon Jones (0), Brenden Donnelly (0.6), Vinnie Chulk (-0.2), Bobby Crosby (-0.7), Javier Lopez (-0.1), Akinori Iwamura (1.3) and Brian Bass (-0.3)
Total WAR 3.5
Departures- Matt Capps (-0.4), Brain Bixler (-0.1), Luis Cruz (-0.2), Phil Dumatrait (-0.7) and Jesse Chavez (-0.4)
Total WAR -1.8
I really liked a lot of the things Neal Huntington did this offseason. The Octavio Dotel signing (1yr/$3 mil) was one of the best in baseball this offseason. Also, by signing D.J. Carrasco and Brenden Donnelly, the Pirates can now use them as great trade bait for a team seeking bullpen help at the deadline. I also thought they got the better end of the Akinori Iwamura trade. However, the Matt Capps decision one of the worst moves of the offseason in baseball. Although Capps posted an unlucky 5.80 ERA in 2009, he is still one of the best relievers in baseball, and he's still only 26. In 2009, Capps struck out 46 batters, while walking 17. The Pirates easily should have considered 2009 a fluke. Capps' BABIP last season was a ridiculous .370. He was just one season removed from a 2008 campaign where he walked just five batters all year. Those are numbers teams would love at the back of their bullpen.
BaseballProspectus.com Projected 2010 Standings for the NL Central
St. Louis 89-73
While these standing are interesting to look at, I don't see Milwaukee winning just 75 games in a weak NL Central next season. Check back soon, I'll have my 2010 NL Central breakdown posted.