2010 MLB Preview: NL Central

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Next up is the NL Central.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (4)
Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday could help the Cardinals win this division sauced out of their minds on a nightly basis. That said, would anyone really be surprised if Carpenter’s arm falls off and the starting pitching (which is among the best in the league) suffers? It’s happened before, so if you answered “yes” to the proposed question then you sir or madam, have not been paying attention. Still, the addition of Brad Penny (who pitched well in the second half last year) will strengthen the club’s starting pitching and Kyle Lohse is a fine middle of the rotation guy. Pujols and Holliday will ignite the offense again, although Colby Rasmus might be the key to whether or not this team makes a serious World Series run. Skip Schumaker is a solid table setter, but how Rasmus fairs hitting in front of Pujols and Holliday could be the difference between the Cards winning the NL Central again and playing for a championship. David Freese better produce too or else the club will regret not acquiring a veteran third baseman in the offseason. All in all, the Cardinals are the best the NL Central has to offer and should make another postseason appearance this season. But how far they go beyond that depends on whether or not Carpenter and Wainwright can continue their magic and if Pujols and Holliday receive help from the rest of the lineup.

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Massarotti: What’s next for Ortiz?

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe throws out an intriguing question about Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and what his next step is after reports surfaced that he tested positive for PEDs in 2003.

Here are the questions we all need to ask: Will anything short of a full admission from Ortiz be enough to satisfy those of us who generally are cursed with cynicism? Or is he simply doomed, regardless of what happened, because there are certain things we need to hear?

Fans don’t appreciate being lied to, so there will still be a ton of people who will forever be upset with Big Papi no matter what he does or doesn’t admit to. But fans are also forgiving in nature as long as an athlete is honest and completely upfront with his omission.

Take Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi and to a lesser extent, Bronson Arroyo (who recently admitted to using androstenedione and amphetamines before they were both banned in 2006) for example. All three of those players admitted that they had taken PEDs in the past, apologized for it and immediately showed regret for what they had done. Do you hear any of their names being mentioned with the likes of Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Ortiz or Ramirez? Nope.

If Big Papi comes out and completely admits to what he did, then fans will be less forgiving. Granted, we’re not going to just forget that he ever took PEDs, but we’ll certainly be more forgiving of him when we throw stones at the players who did cheat.

Edison Volquez likely to miss a year


Edinson Volquez, the lone solid arm in the Cincinnati Reds rotation, is expected to miss a year after having reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.

Volquez had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and torn flexor mass in his right elbow. Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek performed the 90-minute procedure.

A 17-game winner and an All-Star last season, the 26-year-old Volquez is 4-2 with a 4.35 ERA in nine starts this season. He hasn’t pitched since June 1, when he threw one inning vs. the Cardinals in his first start back from a disabled list stint for back spasms.

While it was exciting to watch the Reds compete during April and May, the Reds seem to be falling out of the playoff hunt. Volquez looked like he was the only safe bet on the Reds pitching staff, but one can never tell with a young pitcher if they can consistently throw a solid game. Look at Matt Garza. Still, Volquez was pitching really well before this injury and now his future is in jeopardy. Even worse, Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo are becoming less effective.

Nevertheless, the Reds have the talent to develop into an above-average team. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips can hit the hell out of the ball. Also, the acquisition of Scott Rolen adds a needed bat to their lineup and if Jay Bruce can return from the DL and get his batting average up, the Reds should be able to score with ease. The next step is to get their rotation in order. Unfortunately, Volquez is the missing link as the Reds never seem to make moves for any big arms.

The Reds currently have one of the youngest rosters in baseball. Like many teams, injuries and slumps have screwed up their season. Hopefully, Volquez can rebound from the dreaded Tommy John surgery and return to form as quickly as possible.

Arroyo admits to using adrostenedione

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo told the Boston Herald that he used both androstenedione before they were banned in 2004, and amphetamines before they were banned in 2006.

“Before 2004, none of us paid any attention to anything we took,” said the Reds starter. “Now they don’t want us to take anything unless it’s approved. But back then, who knows what was in stuff? The FDA wasn’t regulating stuff, not unless it was killing people or people were dying from it.”
“Andro made me feel great, I felt like a monster. I felt like I could jump and hit my head on the basketball rim,” Arroyo said of the substance that became infamous after it was discovered in the locker of slugger Mark McGwire during his historic 1998 home run chase.
Arroyo said he had no idea about what Ortiz and Ramirez were taking, if anything, in 2003. He said he observed teammates then who were obsessive about taking nutritional supplements and others who never had a protein shake. His knowledge of what others did stopped when he left the ballpark.
“Everyone has their own lives, nobody knows what anybody does at night,” said Arroyo. “Nobody knew Ken Caminiti was smoking crack. At the end of the day, we all have our own lives. It’s not a frat house in the big leagues where you go back to the dorm at night and everybody knows what everyone’s doing.”

Wow, honesty in baseball – what a refreshing concept.

This is what baseball needs more of. Arroyo doesn’t seem to be hiding anything and I actually believe him when he says that players weren’t paying attention to what they took. It’s not far-fetched to believe that players would go up to teammates saying, “Hey, I’m talking this stuff called andro, which makes me feel like a freaking bull. You’ve got to try this stuff!” and then those teammates taking the advice to heart and trying it without fully knowing everything about the substance.

One would think that professional athletes would know everything that they’re putting into their bodies. But if something like andro is being passed off as a “supplement” and not a “performance-enhancing drug,” then I’m sure more players used it without reading every last detail on the label.

That said, I’d have to be pretty naïve to believe that all players didn’t know what they were doing to their bodies. Guys like Big Mac and Bonds were juicing because they knew performance-enhancers would allow them to extend their careers and break records. And those guys were on more than andro and amphetamines, or else Arroyo would look like the Jolly Green Giant as well, and not the bean poll he is today.

Either way, I applaud Arroyo coming out and admitting that he was on something. More guys should follow his and Andy Pettitte’s lead and just be truthful about what they took and when.

MLB Trade Rumors: Beltre, DeRosa and Washburn

According to SI.com, the Mariners have yet to receive any interest for third baseman Adrian Beltre, who Seattle would love to move because he’s in the last year of his $64 million contract.

– One name that continues to be involved almost daily on the rumor mill is Indians utility man Mark DeRosa. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Cardinals and Yankees have expressed interest in DeRosa, but neither are willing to give up young pitching like Cleveland covets.

– The Mets are rumored to be interested in DeRosa, Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson and Orioles one-bagger Aubrey Huff, but Newsday’s Ken Davidoff writes that the club shouldn’t make any stupid trades just to fill a spot while Carlos Beltran is on the DL.

MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks could become sellers soon and that pitchers Doug Davis and Jon Garland, as well as second baseman Felipe Lopez could all be on the trade block.

– The Phillies want to add an arm, but the pitchers they’re looking at (Erik Bedard, Jake Peavy, Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Jason Marquis) are either hurt or playing for contending teams.

– The Dodgers have interest in Seattle pitcher Jarrod Washburn according to MLB Fanhouse and Juan Pierre’s name has come up as a potential trade piece.

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