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Season Preview: National League Central

April 2, 2012

With Opening Day in just a few days and 25-man rosters starting to take shape, it seems as good a time as any to start to preview the upcoming season. For a change of pace, I’m going to run with a bit of a different format this year and view things one division at a time.

We’ll cover each division in no particular order. We started with the NL West and then moved on to the AL West. Next up, let’s look at the NL Central.

Top 5 Moves Since Last Season:

1. Pittsburgh agrees to terms with center fielder Andrew McCutchen on a six year, $51.5 Million contract extension. The deal includes a club option for the 2018 season that would be valued at $14.5 Million.

2.  Cincinnati trades first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal, and right-handers Edison Volquez and Brad Boxberger to the San Diego Padres for right-hander Mat Latos.

3. St. Louis re-signed first baseman Lance Berkman to a one year, $12 Million free agent contract. The timing of the deal was vital.

4. Milwaukee signs third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a three year, $36 Million free agent contract. The deal includes a mutual option for a fourth season.

5. Houston trades right-hander Mark Melancon to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland.

Key Acquisitions:

Chicago (None), Cincinnati (Latos, Sean Marshall), Houston (None), Milwaukee (Ramirez), Pittsburgh (None), St. Louis (Carlos Beltran)

Key Losses:

Chicago (Ramirez), Cincinnati (Alonso), Houston (Melancon), Milwaukee (Prince Fielder), Pittsburg (None), St. Louis (Albert Pujols)

Predictions:

Cy Young – Zack Greinke (Matt Garza)

MVP – Andrew McCutchen (Joey Votto)

Rookie of the Year – Josh Vitters (Zack Cozart)

Standings:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. St. Louis
  3. Milwaukee
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Chicago
  6. Houston

All Division Team:

Finally, let’s close things out with my pre-2012 All Division Team*. Eligible candidates consist of each team’s projected starter heading into Opening Day. We’ll revisit these lists again once the season concludes.

* Honorable mentions in parentheses.

1B: Joey Votto (Lance Berkman)

2B: Brandon Phillips (Rickie Weeks)

3B: Aramis Ramirez (Scott Rolen)

SS: Starlin Castro (Jed Lowrie)

RF: Jose Tabata (Carlos Beltran)

CF: Andrew McCutchen (Drew Stubbs)

LF: Ryan Braun (Matt Holliday)

C: Yadier Molina (Jonathan Lucroy)

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