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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Wife of Pirates’ player implicated in infant abduction

In one of the more bizarre stories of the week, Pirates’ 20-year old outfielder Jose Tabata’s wife was questioned Tuesday on charges of taking an infant and could be charged with false imprisonment.

Amalia Tabata Pereira, 43, allegedly abducted the infant Monday afternoon and reportedly turned the child in to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday afternoon. The girl is safe, police said.

“I was shocked to be told today that my wife has been arrested for kidnapping,” Tabata said in a statement. “I am hurt, frustrated and confused by her actions. I have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials in any way that I can. Until I have all of the facts, I cannot comment any further.”

The suspect married the 20-year-old Pirates Minor League outfielder in January 2008, according to Hillsborough County records. Tabata came to the Pirates last summer from the Yankees in the Xavier Nady trade. He is currently in Minor League camp in Bradenton, Fla.

The baby, Sandra Cruz-Francisco, was taken from her mother, Rosa Sirilo-Francisco, at about 3 p.m. on Monday by a woman her family simply knew as “Janet,” Plant City police told The AP.

According to the Tampa Tribune, Sirilo-Francisco took the baby to the Plant City Health Department for a checkup and met “Janet,” who claimed to be an immigration official and told the mother that immigration officers were waiting at her home to deport her and the baby’s father to Mexico. “Janet” said she would help the parents, but she needed to take the baby.

The Tribune reports that the two women then drove the baby to a farm where the baby’s father works, where “Janet” relayed the same story to him. Soon after, the mother gave “Janet” the baby. This story has yet to be confirmed by Plant City police, according to The AP.

This is one hell of a story and while I have many questions, my first is – what is a 20-year old doing marrying a 43-year old? Freaking strange.

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