Useless division projections: North League Central

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The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

National League Central:

Chicago Cubs, 5th place

The Cubs are probably the saddest team in the NL Central to see the Houston Astros take their show to the American League, leaving them to be the cellar dweller. Theo Epstein is making his presence known, but the time is not right now. Anthony Rizzo will provide a solid force in the middle of the lineup as he hopes to progress into one of the more feared power hitters in the league, but that is about all they have cooking right now. The Curse of the Billy Goat has no possible end in sight.

Milwaukee Brewers, 4th place

Yovani Gallardo presents a formidable top of the rotation, and having Ryan Braun in the middle of the lineup can make any team dangerous from time to time. But the roster has holes galore, and Braun could finally face a suspension for his PED use thanks to the report out of Miami that surfaced this winter. Could be a long year for the Brew Crew.

St. Louis Cardinals, 3rd place

With Chris Carpenter already lost for the season, the loss of Kyle Lohse and the recent news of Rafael Furcal’s impending Tommy John surgery, the season has already gotten off to a rough start for the Red Birds. Adam Wainwright will have to lead the Cardinals through the dog days of summer to keep them in the hunt, and Allen Craig is going to have to stay healthy and have a breakout year for them to have a chance at a division title. All that bad news out of the way, this is still a team that knows how to win, so don’t catch yourself counting them out in March.

Cincinnati Reds, 2nd place

This is by far the best team in the division and one of the best in baseball. However, things rarely go as they should, just ask the Angels of 2012. They won 95 games in 2012, and then they got better over the offseason. The addition of Shin-Soo Choo to the top of the lineup will help drastically, and the experimental move of Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation could pay the kind of dividends that Stephen Strasburg has in D.C.. Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwig, and Brandon Phillips will provide the pop, and Johnny Cueto and Matt Latos will lead the charge on the mound. This team is stacked and will probably win the division going away. But because these predictions are useless…

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1st place

Here I go. I’m going to do it. And I’ll more than likely be laughing at myself come July when they are 12 games back, but I’m sticking my neck out and designating the Pittsburgh Pirates to be Cinderella in 2013. Andrew McCutchen is going to have to be an MVP, which he is more than capable of, and Neil Walker and Garret Jones are going to have to take their game to the next level. The rotation figures to be the best it has been in awhile, led by A.J Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano. There is a high probability these guys fade through the summer, and there is a high probability they make no noise at all. But if I get this right, I want to take Buster Olney’s job. Who am I kidding, I just picked a team to win a division and they haven’t even finished above .500 since 1992.