Fantasy Baseball: NL Central Burning Questions

Jan 12, 2010

Now an early look at the NL Central.

1. Can the Cubs’ offense bounce back?
Geovany Soto had a miserable season hitting .218. He was brilliant in Triple-A Iowa in 2007 and had an amazing Rookie season. I fully expect him to bounce back in 2010. Even if he is an average of his past two years, he’d have a decent season. Just don’t reach for him. Assuming Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano can stay healthy, they should have better seasons as well. Marlon Byrd hit 70 percent of his HRs at Rangers Ballpark so I expect him to take a step back in Chicago. At his age (34), I don’t expect Derrek Lee to match the 35 HRs and 111 RBIs. As a whole, though, I do think the Cubs will be much-improved on offense next year thanks to the addition by subtraction of Milton Bradley.

2.  Can Carlos Marmol get it done at Closer?
His BAA was equally nasty as a closer and a setup man, though his ERA and WHIP both improved when he took over at closer. He has both the stuff and demeanor to get the job done. I think he can be a high-end closer next year despite entering the season with just23 career Saves.

3.  Is Joey Votto set to bust out big time?
Joey’s average and OPS  soared dramatically in his second full season. Despite playing in 20 fewer games he had 13 more runs, six more doubles, one more HR, the same amount of RBIs, and 11 more walks. As long as he stays healthy, Votto should emerge as one of the games best hitters.

4. How about Jay Bruce?
I’m not sure he’ll light the world on fire, but he should be improved. Hard not to when you hit .223. I’m encouraged by the way he played in September when he hit .353 with 4 HRs and 16 RBIs in 34 ABs.

5. Is Lance Berkman’s dip a sign of things to come?
I don’t think so. He’s about as steady as they come. Gone are the days of 40 HRs and 120 RBIs, but he should still be good for 30 & 110.

6. Is Tommy Manzelli going to be a viable fantasy option?
I don’t think so. He didn’t exactly put up monster numbers for Triple-A Round Rock last year, hitting .289 with 68 runs, 9 HRs, 56 RBIs, and 12 SBs in 530 ABs.

7.  Is Casey McGehee for real?
He had an impressive Rookie season hitting .301 with 58 runs, 16 HRs, and 66 RBIs in 355 ABs. I like the way he responded in September hitting .337 with 5 HRs and 26 RBIs after struggling in August hitting .241. I wouldn’t want him as a starter, but his 2B/3B eligibility make him a decent bench option.

8.  Can Garrett Jones continue to be a power threat?
He certainly hit his share with 21 in 314 ABs for a 14.9 AB/HR ratio. It is highly unlikely that he can maintain that ratio. His OPS of .939 was also significanly higher than the majority of his minor league stints.

9.  Will Mark McGwire be a distraction?
I don’t think so. He came clean early enough where is shouldn’t be much of an issue for the Cards.

10.  Will Ryan Franklin continue to be an elite closer?
Franklin was one of the surprise closers last year when he recorded 38 saves with a 1.92 ERA. His numbers were significantly worse after the All-Star break.

0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, .165 BAA
3.33 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, .284 BAA

While he was a pleasant surprise last year, I see no reason to believe he can match his 2009 production.

 

. .

2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Frank
    January 12th, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    Votto is a pure hitter … and I too am unsure about Jay Bruce. The good side of last year’s injury is that it got him away from his bad habits.

    I think Garrett Jones had his career year.

    I think Ryan Franklin will be ok – but not stellar.

    I think the Cubs will compete … but not sure if they can get it done to win the division.

  2. LestersLegends
    January 13th, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    I love Votto and hope to get him on my team next year.

Leave a Comment


Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties