I read an interesting article by Dayn Perry over at Fox Sports describing how the NL Central is by far the weakest division in baseball. He's right, too; he calculated the overall records of every division both for all of 2006 and against out-of-division opponents. In both cases, the NL Central was dead last by plenty. Don't believe that yet? Let's take a look at a few of the flaws for every team:
St. Louis Cardinals
Their corner outfielders are Chris Duncan and Juan Encarnacion.
Their stars (Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds) have all been injured recently.
They only have 2 experienced starters! (Carpenter and Kip Wells).
Craig Biggio isn't getting any younger.
Who are our #4 and #5 starters?
Can Bill Hall adjust to CF?
Will their bullpen suck again (Derrick Turnbow)?
Will Claudio Vargas be any good as a #5 starter?
Will Ben Sheets stay healthy?
Their up-the-middle infielders are Cesar Izturis and Mark DeRosa.
Can Alfonso Soriano play CF?
Will Ken Griffey Jr. stay healthy? (NO.)
Can Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo really be that good?
Alex Gonzalez and Brandon Phillips up the middle?
Will any of their young pitchers be good?
Who supplies the offense besides Bay / Sanchez? (Possibly LaRoche?)
Their bullpen...any good?
All the teams certainly have a lot of flaws. Like Andy has mentioned in the past, I really like the Brewers this year. The Cardinals still have Pujols, the Cubs have plenty of offense, etc. I honestly think the Astros' main undoing will be their outfield defense. It's going to be BAD. If I had to guess how the division finishes, I'd go Brewers / Cubs / Cardinals / Astros / Reds / Pirates.
P.S. Arizona baseball fans are getting pretty excited about their Diamondbacks. And why shouldn't they? Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, Brandon Webb...oh, and the oldest guy in that group is Webb. He'll be 28 in May. Oh yeah, and they have some guy named Randy Johnson now too.