MLB Mid-season Review: NL Central

Mid-season Review: NL Central
From one of the worst divisions, to one of the best. The NL Central is already one of the most exciting races – and it should only get better as evidenced by the arms race.

Chicago Cubs
Record: 57-38
Pythagorean Record: 58-37
Farm System: 25th

What Went Right?
The Cubs haven’t had anything go wrong. They have the best run differential in the league, the most all stars, and the most wins (tied with the Red Sox and Angels).

What Went Wrong?
The worst things would be Alfonso Soriano’s health and Felix Pie’s demotion.

What Needs To Be Done?
They still want to add a pitcher, but they really don’t need to do much since they got Harden.

Grade: A

Cincinnati Reds
Record: 46-50
Pythagorean Record: 42-54
Farm System: 6th

What Went Right?
Adding Edison Volquez was huge for the future of the pitching staff. Johnny Cueto has shown signs of greatness. Plus Jay Bruce was promoted.

What Went Wrong?
Homer Bailey still hasn’t developed. Johnny Cueto struggles after his first few starts.

What Needs To Be Done?
Just preparing for next year. They want to move veterans, but will they be able to?

Grade: D+

Houston Astros
Record: 44-51
Pythagorean Record: 43-52
Farm System: 30th

What Went Right?
The Astros have had some streaks this year. The hitters aren’t doing terrible; Lance Berkman has been a monster.

What Went Wrong?
The pitching has been horrible. Roy Oswalt is struggling and they don’t have much after him.

What Needs To Be Done?
They need to rebuild the system. They have very little after they traded for Jason Jennings, Jose Valverde, and Miguel Tejada the last 2 years. They have said they will listen on any player without a no trade clause.

Grade: D-

Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 52-43
Pythagorean Record: 49-46
Farm System: 9th

What Went Right?
They’ve gotten good performances from the usual suspects – Fielder, Bruan, Sheets. Sheets hasn’t been hurt yet. They were able to trade for CC Sabathia without giving up much of the future.

What Went Wrong?
The bullpen hasn’t been good. Eric Gagne has fallen far since his consecutive save streak. Slow starts by JJ Hardy and Bruan got them off to a slow start.

What Needs To Be Done?
Not much. Sabathia was a huge addition. They could use a couple of bullpen arms, even possibly a new closer.

Grade: B-

Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 44-50
Pythagorean Record: 41-53
Farm System: 22rd

What Went Right?
They’ve been able to hit pretty well (460 runs for the season). Nate McLouth looks like a piece to build around.

What Went Wrong?
The pitching has been horrible. They’ve given up the second most runs in the league.

What Needs To Be Done?
Trade off their free agents to be, like Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. Keeping Jason Bay is important.

Grade: F

St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 53-43
Pythagorean Record: 51-45
Farm System: 11th

What Went Right?
Their starting pitching has been pretty good; Kyle Lohse was a steal for under $5MM. The outfield is stacked; they are getting career years from Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel.

What Went Wrong?
The bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball. They have 21 blown saves at the break. They also have a lousy middle infield; all 4 players they use have the same skill set with no power.

What Needs To Be Done?
To stay in contention, they need a better SS or 2B, an upgrade in the bullpen, and a starter who can eat innings.

Grade: B+


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