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Consequently, Iíve a tendency to be unhappy
You see the thoughts in my head
All the words that were said
All the blues and the reds get to me

Standings as of April 27th, 2005

TEAM               W     L     PCT   GB		
St. Louis         13     5    .722   -
Chicago           10    10    .500   4
Cincinnati        10    10    .500   4
Houston            8    11    .421   5.5
Milwaukee          7    12    .368   6.5
Pittsburgh         7    12    .368   6.5
The only real surprise here is the poor record of the Astros. The Cardinals are running away with the division, the Cubs are playing decently despite injuries, the 2005 World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds are just biding their time, and the Brewers and Pirates stink. Now for the in-depth version:

St. Louis Cardinals

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Other than losing a series 2-1 against the Phillies this month, the Cards have been have humming along nicely. Since coming off the DL on the 20th, Matt Morris is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.45.

There's some concern with regards to the bullpen. Last night closer Jason Isringhausen left the game with a strained right abdominal muscle. No word yet if he's going to go on the DL. If he does, he'll be joining relievers Cal Eldred (viral infection) and Bill Pulsipher (strained right hamstring). Both Eldred and Pulpsipher are eligible to come off the DL, so one of them may take Isringhausen's place on the roster.

Cuttlefish Contenders

The Cardinals have a number of big guns on offense who are all playing at about or a bit below the level you'd expect. These include Albert Pujols (311/370/595), Scott Rolen (246/325/478), Larry Walker (263/382/421), and Jim Edmonds (245/373/566).

The team's success so far, though, can be traced to their starting pitchers, who have put up the following numbers:

Matt Morris     2-0, 2.45 ERA
Jason Marquis   3-0, 2.77 ERA
Mark Mulder     2-1, 3.10 ERA
Jeff Suppan     2-2, 3.42 ERA
Chris Carpenter 3-1, 4.15 ERA
The man with the highest ERA on this list, Chris Carpenter, was recently rewarded with a 2 year contract extension.

Prawns of Poor Performance

In 56 at-bats Yadier Molina has all of 8 hits for a 143/158/161. So far LaRussa has been reluctant to use anyone else at the position as backup Einar Diaz has all of 7 at-bats this season, and third catcher Cody McKay is in AAA.

Everyone else has been playing reasonably well which is what you'd expect from a team playing over .700 ball.

Chicago Cubs

Early Injuries

Mark Prior missed the first part of the season, but has pitched spectacularly since coming off the DL on April 13th. Prior has a 3-0 record with a microscopic 0.95 ERA in 19 innings pitched.

The Cubs are missing the middle of their infield. First Todd Walker went on the 15-day DL with a sprained left MCL. Off-season acquisition has done a great job taking over at second, hitting .277 and getting on-base at a .382 clip. He has not committed an error at his 10 games at the position this season.

Nomar Garciaparra was placed on the DL with an injured groin on the 22nd and may not be back for the rest of the season. Neifi Perez has taken over for Garciaparra at short. There have been rumours that the Cubs are interested in Tampa's Julio Lugo, but for now it appears they'll stick with Neifi.

Cuttlefish Contenders

Neifi Perez is hitting 393/424/589 for an OPS of 1013. That's like dogs and cats living together. Babies having babies. And so on.

Derrek Lee has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .400 with 5 homeruns in 75 at-bats. Former Blue Jays Rule 5er Jason Dubois is currently slugging .625 in 24 at-bats. If you're in the Alomar division and you'd like to acquire Dubois, send me an e-mail.

Prawns of Poor Performance

Before he got injured, Garciaparra was truly struggling at the plate, hitting .157 with little power in 51 at-bats. None of the other regulars are playing too badly, though the team can't be thrilled with Mike Barrett's .226 batting average or the fact Todd Hollandsworth is hitting .214

Cincinnati Reds

Shuffling the Deck

Ten Reds have already collected 40 at-bats this season. Utilityman Ryan Freel has been getting the majority of the starts at second lately, filling in for the struggling D'Angelo Jimenez. The duties at short have been split between Rich Aurilia who has put up an uninspiring 220/258/390 line in 59 at-bats and former Blue Jay Felipe Lopez who is hitting .273 with a homerun in 22 at-bats.

While Wily Mo Pena is designated as a 4th outfielder, he is still seeing a great deal of playing time, appearing in 17 of the 20 games the Reds have played this season. Expect to see time in the outfield split roughly equally between Griffey Jr., Dunn, Kearns, and Pena.

Cuttlefish Contenders

Joe Randa is off to a hot start, hitting .294 with 4 homers and 13 walks in 68 at-bats. In the outfield Dunn and Pena are off to monster starts, with the former putting up a 317/453/783 line, while the latter is slugging an eye-popping .814!

On the hill sophmore Ryan Wagner has been impressive, collecting 7 holds while putting up an ERA of 0.79 in just over 11 innings. He's got electric stuff, as shown by his 10/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Danny Graves already has 8 saves this season, but with an 3.86 ERA it would be hard to argue that he's been more valuable than Wagner.

Prawns of Poor Performance

Paul Wilson has an ERA of 6.00. Eric Milton's in 6.75. If the Reds are to win the series, these two starters will have to step it up a notch or two. In the bullpen Ben Weber has been has been struggling with an ERA of 7.88. His peripherals, however, don't look too bad: No homeruns, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts in 8 innings.

Sean Casey had a terrific year in 2004, hitting .324 with 24 homeruns. In 2005 he has no homeruns and is hitting a more pedestrian .280.

D'Angelo Jimenez has lost his job at 2nd due to his .220 average. I don't think Ryan Freel is a long-term solution, so the Reds will need to figure out how to get Jimenez back to the .270 level he was at last year. Having him rot on the bench is probably not the best solution.

Austin Kearns is hitting .208 with only 2 homeruns. He's always been a low average hitter, but .208 is pushing it.

Houston Astros

A One Player Team?

Lance Berkman has been on the DL since March 31st with an injured right knee. The team is currently 8-11. Now correlation does not imply causality, but considering his replacement, Chris Burke, is currently slugging .275, there might be something to that.

Cuttlefish Contenders

Roger Clemens has pitched in 28 innings over 4 starts and has given up *1* earned run over that a span due to a Joe Randa solo homer. So what does Mr. Clemens have to show for an 0.32 ERA over 4 starts? A 1-0 record.

How could this be? Try three consecutive 1-0 losses by the Astros. The first was on April 13th, where Clemens and Kaz Ishii of the Mets each gave up 2 hits over 7 scoreless innings. The Mets ended up winning in the 11th inning as Jose Reyes hit an infield single off of reliever Dan Wheeler, scoring Victor Diaz.

Five days later on the 18th, Clemens went toe-to-toe against Tim Hudson of the Braves. Clemens once again threw seven scoreless innings, while Hudson went two better by throwing nine scoreless innings. The Braves ended up winning it in 12, as Ryan Langerhans hit an inside-the-park homerun. Who gave up the homer? That's right - it was Dan Wheeler, whose record fell to 0-2 that day.

On the 23rd, Clemens faced another former A's hurler in Cardinal Mark Mulder. Clemens once again pitched 7 scoreless innings. Mulder ended up pitching a complete-game 10 inning shutout. This time Dan Wheeler was not to blame for the loss, as Larry Walker's single off of Chad Qualls scored Reggie Sanders.

Prawns of Poor Performance

Given what you've already read, you may believe Dan Wheeler should fall into this category. But Wheeler has been quite effective, giving up only those two runs in his 10 innings of work over 9 appearances. Brandon Duckworth, on the other hand, has given up 14 earned runs in the same number of innings.

Brad Ausmus is hitting .200 with little power, but then again, he is Brad Ausmus.

Milwaukee Brewers

Locking Up The Ace

The Brewers recently signed starter Ben Sheets to a 4-year $38.5 million contract extension through the end of the 2008 season. Sheets celebrated his new fortune by getting an inner ear infection. He'll likely be out until the middle of May. Ouch!

Cuttlefish Contenders

Three-outcomes hero Russ Branyan has been splitting time with Jeff Cirillo at the hot corner. Branyan is hitting .314 with 3 homeruns in only 35 at bats. Is this the year Branyan becomes a full-time player? My guess would be no.

The bullpen has been a source of strength this year for the Brew Crew. Matt Wise has only given up 1 earned run in 10 innings over 9 appearances. What is it with all these guys who have thrown exactly 10 innings? Wes Obermueller, Derrick Turnbow, and Ricky Bottalico have all made significant contributions as well.

Prawns of Poor Performance

They're the Brewers, so you figure somebody has to be stinking up the joint. On the pitching side, nobody has performed too poorly. Doug Davis has a 2-3 record with a 5.40 ERA, but if that's the worst thing you can say about the pitching staff, then they must be doing alright.

Rookie shortstop J.J. Hardy is having trouble adjusting to major league pitching. In his first 50 at-bats in the bigs he's hitting .140 with no homeruns. It's possible that Bill Hall will see more time at short, but then again he is only hitting .190.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Thrown in the Brig

Ty Wigginton started the season by hitting .160 in his first 17 games. It appears that for the time being he's lost his starting 3B job to Bobby "What are you talking about?" Hill. Hill is hitting .345, and as such, Wigginton may not get much playing time until Hill's bat cools off.

Cuttlefish Contenders

Hill is second on the team in OPS, just behind Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez has become the everyday 2nd baseman due to the injury (strained left oblique) of Jose Castillo. If Sanchez continues to hit well (currently 286/390/457), Castillo will have to fight to get his job back when he gets off the DL.

Jose Mesa has 7 saves in 7 games with an ERA of 1.29. I can't explain it either.

The Pirates have also received some excellent starting pitching, but not from the usual suspects. Despite a 1-1 record, Mark Redman has been excellent with a 2.39 ERA in four starts. Josh Fogg has been almost as good with a 2.45 ERA over 3 starts. The 4 homers he's given up are cause for concern.

Prawns of Poor Performance

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. - Matthew 19:30.

Kip Wells has an ERA of 6.46 and Oliver Perez's is at 6.41. They've each given up 6 longballs, which is never a good sign.

Wigginton isn't the only player struggling with the bat. Centerfielder Tike Redman is hitting .135 in 37 at-bats. Of bigger concern to fantasy baseballers is the fact he only has one stolen base.

What's On Tap?

There are some interdivisional matchups next week with the Reds vs. Cardinals, Brewers vs Cubs, and Astros vs. Pirates. Although the Cardinals are performing well, most eyes will be on the Cubs, to see how they perform without Nomar (and with Neifi!) and if their pitching can remain healthy.
The Overreacting to Sample Size Edition of Your NL Central Report | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 02:59 PM EDT (#113893) #
* Kip Wells went 7 scoreless innings this afternoon against the Astros. 2-0 in the bottom of the 8th.

* Austin Kearns could make the 'Prawns of Poor Performance' category - he's barely above a .200 average right now, but he is healthy.

* Roger Clemens has received 3 runs in his 4 starts, and of those 3 runs he drove in 2 of them himself.

* Who's more surprising this year so far? Neifi or Castilla?
Mike Green - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#113894) #

Cuttlefish and prawns. Mmm.

I am not surprised about the Astros. It would not shock me if things get worse. The Brewers' story is complex. They have outscored their opponents 85-82, but have lost all 7 close games (statistics courtesy of THT). Unlike most here, I expect the Brewers to be at least so-so by the end of the season.

Lugnut Fan - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#113895) #
There really is no surprises in this division for me. The Cubs are really relying on their pitching and with Wood having problems with his arm still, Chad Fox going down on Monday with what looks like an elbow problem and the lack of a closer, consistent pen coupled with the Sosa / Alou production losses, this has the makings of a bad year for the Cubs. The Nomar injury doesn't help things either. They will have to trade to get a shortstop before the trade deadline because Neifi Perez isn't going to cut IMO...I am also happy they only signed Nomar to a one year deal. He will not be back in cubbie blue I'm afraid.

Being a Cubs fan it pains me to say this but........I really like to watch the Cardinals play........There I said it. How can you not get behind these guys. They're good guys and any team Eckstein plays for is okay with me. I love that kids story....And they play the game the right way.

The Brewers are going to be a solid team in a couple of years. They have a loaded system with Rickie Weekes, Prince Fielder and Tony Gwynn Jr. I saw them in the MWL championship against Lansing a few years ago and Prince is the scariest hitter I have ever seen at this level.

The Pirates......They are the Pirates. They are going to be bad for a long time.

The Astros....They are a surprise and with an aging Bagwell, Biggio, Clemens (even though he is still awesome), this could be their swan song. THey have a pretty good farm system though as well.
Gerry - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#113900) #
Austin Kearns was a player rumoured to be available over the winter, looks like Cincy should have pulled the plug on that one.

Sorry Mick, our resident Reds optimist, but I still don't see it.

Does anyone think the Cardinals can hit their way to a world series, because the pitching staff is still a weakness.
Magpie - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#113904) #
All of these absurdities that lay before us...

My NL Cy Young pick is stinking out the joint, huh?

I know they're the Pirates - I still thought they'd be better.

Pistol - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#113908) #
Austin Kearns was a player rumoured to be available over the winter, looks like Cincy should have pulled the plug on that one.

So you think that Kearns isn't off to a slow start, but just isn't that good?

Dr. Zarco - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#113911) #
Kearns is having a pretty good day so far today. He's 2-3 with 2 RBI and 2 runs in a wild one at Wrigley to push his avg. up to .232. The game is now tied at 7 following a curious decision to say the least by Reds skipper Dave Miley. Derrick Lee is leading the NL in all 3 Triple Crown categories, is 3-3 today including a HR and 3 RBI. And for some reason, Miley decides to pitch to him with men on 2nd and 3rd with one out. The real kicker is Jeromy Burnitz was on deck and Kent Mercker was warmed up in the pen and Burnitz is 1-21 career vs. Mercker. Oops. Two day baseball games on here in Chicago. A nice afternoon to have off.
Magpie - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#113912) #
Derrick Lee is leading the NL in all 3 Triple Crown categories, is 3-3 today including a HR and 3 RBI. And for some reason, Miley decides to pitch to him with men on 2nd and 3rd with one out.

Lee is now 4-4 with 6 RBI, for those of you wondering how it turned out.

Miley appears to be utterly conventional in his use of the IBB - the Reds have handed out 61 and 55 during his tenure. That's where most NL teams are, between 50 and 70. Some of the bad teams (Montreal, Arizona, San Diego last year) gave out a few more. And Clint Hurdle handed out 84 in Colorado.

LaRussa still thinks he's in the AL - only 24. And Ned Yost issued just 27 in Milwaukee, where is a very low total for a bad team.

Gerry - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 05:35 PM EDT (#113914) #
So you think that Kearns isn't off to a slow start, but just isn't that good?

I have not seen him much on TV but his numbers are all going the wrong way, batting average - down; walk rate - down; K rate - up. His age is his major positive at the moment. Through the numbers it looks like pitchers have figured something out regarding how to pitch to him.

Dr. Zarco - Wednesday, April 27 2005 @ 06:02 PM EDT (#113916) #

Lee is now 4-4 with 6 RBI, for those of you wondering how it turned out

Sorry for not including that. I certainly should have mentioned that Lee's 3-run HR tied the game at 7 instead of just saying it was a 7-7 game since that was the crux of why it was a dumb decision. Anyway, the Cubs won on a Patterson walk-off HR. Lee was on deck. I was hoping for some more magic from the man who's absolutely carrying my fantasy squad.

The South Siders, meanwhile, continue to get everything they need just when they need it. 2 bases loaded GIDP so far by Oakland have kept the game tied at 1, moving into the 9th. Perhaps another walk-off winner?

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