Welcome to the wacky fun house that is the NL  Central

Ah, sorry about the break guys. My older brother got married this weekend, congratulations Dave. We’ll talk about something that, criminally, I’ve been avoiding this season – the Brewers and Cardinals. I’ve always loved the Brewers, especially when they had Carlos Lee. Lee is, by far, the most underrated player in the game, I believe. He consistently puts up great numbers. For example, he is currently leading the NL with 45 RBI’s, (he’s with the Astros). Back to the Brewers.

You may recall there being a bunch of buzz about this team early in the season. We were told they came out of nowhere to take the NL Central by storm. Well, to the team’s credit, this is not entirely true. The Brewers have been a team on the ups for quite some time now, and in many ways could be compared to last year’s Tigers. That is, they weren’t that bad in previous years, but they were deceptively bad if you simply looked at their record. In 2006, they won 75 games. In 2005, 81. So, they weren’t terrible. In fact, the Brewers and Tigers were the only teams to start the 2006 season 5-0. In any case, the Cardinals came crashing back to earth this year. That kind of opened up the division a little bit. The Brewers are 17-8 against the NL Central, of which they are the only team above .500. They are a combined 10-13 against the East and West. Right now, they’re 28-23, (three games of interleague play were not counted in the previous splits.) So they’re not world-burners. They’re also 2-8 in their last 10 games, including a 6 game losing streak. So, how is everyone so excited about them? Because the team is, like I said, on the ups. They’re maturing. Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, (who will come fall back to earth, trust me,) Rickie Weeks, Geoff Jenkins – that’s a pretty solid core you have. Not to mention Cordero, and Turnbow, who’s a bit split-minded, but he’ll figure it out. You can’t throw that hard and be bad for too long. So the Brewers are young, and getting older. And people love that. They’re drawn to that like bugs are drawn to the light. There’s just something about aging…

Speaking of which, lights-out closer Francisco Cordero (0.47 ERA), who we have discussed, has basically been unemployed since May 20th, which was the last time he was needed for a save. He did pitch this afternoon in a non-save, (losing) situation. In fact, in the Brewer’s last two road trips, they’ve won only three games. Two of them were blowouts, leaving Cordero with only one chance to pitch. Manager Ned Yost said, "I don’t know why I even bring him on the road." And it’s true, the Brewers are 11-15 on the road. That’s something they may want to work on.

Then again, they can probably lose every road game for the rest of the year and do just fine for themselves. Now, I don’t want to start counting all the little chickens before they hatch, but lets be real here. Baring some major influx of talent in the NL Central – of which there are none on the horizon – the Brewers can just about start selling playoff tickets. It’s very NL West-esque for a .549 team to start declaring victory – much less in May – but the NL Central is behaving a lot like the NL West. The Central is, in fact, worse than the West. It’s like these two divisions got together before the season and said to each other, ‘alright, we’ll play really bad if you play really bad too.’ There are four 30+ win teams in the top four divisions, (AL East-NL East), and zero in the bottom two. But to focus on the NL Central. Again, the Brewers have lost 8 of their last 10, and they’re still 5 games up. Heck, Chicago is in 2nd place. Pittsburgh is in 3rd. And St. Louis is three lousy games up on the last place Reds.

The Arches
It’s like we’re watching the NL Central in some bizarro universe, where up is down, and left is right. The Cardinals have a 3-man rotation, in which Braden Looper, who has been a touch-and-go reliever for the last few years, has a 3.10 ERA. ‘Staff Ace’ Kip Wells has a 6.10 ERA and a 2-9 record, (seriously, has he even pitched 11 games yet?) Todd Wellemeyer has an 8.06 ERA, and was recently promoted from the bullpen to start games. Bradthompson_2That’s when you know it’s time to call it quits – when you’re promoting guys with 8.06 ERAs to start baseball games. I don’t think Wellemeyer will be playing the role of stopper anytime soon. I think that the unofficial rotation (correct me if I’m wrong,) includes Adam Wainwright and Brad Thompson (right), who looks a lot like a lady.

So, how many games, prior to 2007, have the bottom four members of the rotation started? One. Not exactly what you would call loads of experience. And again, Kip Wells isn’t really a pitching sage. Chris Carpenter? Mark Mulder? Yeah. But not Kip Wells. Speaking of Mark Mulder, where is he? Well, he’s not on the active roster. He’s recovering from rotator cuff surgery, and we’re not sure when he’s going to be back. And, apparently, neither is anybody else. Chris Carpenter, we know, is out for quite some time. Jim Edmonds is still trolling center field in his walker, and hitting .230 at the plate. I like the guy. And that’s why I don’t want to see a repeat of 2005, when the Mariners took Bret Boone out back and, you know… cut him. Frosty Boone was, at the time, hitting a very frosty .231. So Taguchi is just waiting for the full-time center field job, and he can do it too. He’s not great, but he’s better than Edmonds right now. And you have to think the Cardinals can find an outfielder with an OBP above .300. So, Edmonds might want to think of launching a preemptive strike of the "you can’t fire me, I quit," variety. The Cardinals will hold on to him because hey, he’s not costing them the division. But you know what they’re thinking. So come this off-season Jim, it’s get them, or get got.

Right now the Cardinals are in danger of becoming the 2nd best team in Missouri. Indeed, they’re only up on their Royal Brethren by one game. One day you’re hoisting the World Series trophy high in the air, the next you’re fighting off Mark’s Army for 1st place in the state least deserving of two baseball teams, (there are about 2.8 million fans per team in Missouri. California, by contrast, has 6.8 million fans per team. I know. Where does he find this stuff.)

Alright. The comments are getting out of control. Did someone take away your commenting privileges? We’re 0 for our last 4 guys, lets get something going. Rally caps, bubble gum, do whatever you need to do. But make it happen.


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