It’s the Cardinals’ world and the rest of these teams just live in it.
1. St. Louis Cardinals – The Red Birds are downright impressive. How do you lose Albert Pujols and still manage to put a squad this talented on the field? For one, the farm system just keeps cranking out hits. They’ve always got a deep bench, which keeps the yearly injury to an important player from completely derailing them. Pitching coach Dave Duncan can probably turn lead into gold. The only thing that’ll keep the Cardinals out of the playoffs this year would be an asteroid striking the Lou.
Beer Equivalent – The Rogue brewery. No matter what they do, you can’t go wrong.
2. Cincinnati Reds – I’m feeling a little down on the Reds this year. They’ve got an impressive lineup and a quality rotation, but no one in this clubhouse other than Joey Votto gets me particularly excited. Brandon Phillips and Bronson Arroyo are old. Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey aren’t nearly as good as they were supposed to be. The Reds will finish a game or two short of the second wild card.
Beer Equivalent – Shipyard Pumpkinhead. Lots of people swear by it, but it’s not really my thing.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates – .500? .500. Here’s a decent rotation without a true ace (although top prospect Gerritt Cole may have something to say about that soon) and a lineup that features Andrew McCutchen and…um…eight other guys. Oh, that’s right, Russell Martin! Unfortunately, it’ll take more than stealing a catcher from the Yankees to get Pittsburgh over the hump, though they’re painfully close.
Beer Equivalent – Sam Adams Boston Lager. Just kind of ok.
4. Milwaukee Brewers – The Brew Crew reminds me of the Chicago White Sox; they aren’t that far removed from their contending years, but they feel like they’re just treading water and might be better off just blowing it up. The rotation’s kind of a mess despite Yovani Gallardo and the recent addition of Kyle Lohse. Alex Gonzalez is slated to be the Opening Day first baseman. That’s not a joke; that’s a career shortstop filling in at first. That’s just silly.
Beer Equivalent – A bottle of Brooklyn Local 1 filled with Zima. It looks ok at first glance, but then you taste it and you realize something is terribly, horribly wrong.
5. Chicago Cubs – Ah, a good old-fashioned rebuild! Anthony Rizzo’s a stud. Shortstop Starlin Castro’s an interesting player who just might kill someone sitting in the first base box seats with an errant throw. There’s still some life in Alfonso Soriano’s bat because for some reason major league pitchers are throwing him things other than sliders down and away. Let’s see what you’ve got, Theo!
Beer Equivalent – A car bomb. Not something you want to do everyday, but when you see one you know shit’s about to get entertaining.