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MLB Power Rankings: NL Central rules MLB

May 30, 2013, 5:19 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

St. Louis leads a stacked NL Central division, which by any measure has three of the top teams in the major leagues. Texas, meanwhile, is still the class of the AL, but they've been surpassed by a couple of the Cardinals' rivals.

Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the big leagues shaking out:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (35-17; LW: 1) – Hughes: Each week we laud about their rotation, but their offense isn't too shabby either. Among their key contributors are Yadier Molina (4th rd. pick), Allen Craig (8th rd. pick) and Matt Carpenter (13th rd. pick). It's incredible how they find talent.

2. Cincinnati Reds (33-20; LW: 3) – Hughes: Everything is coming together for Cincy's pitching staff with Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake all pitching as well as they ever have in their careers.

3. Atlanta Braves (31-21; LW: 4)Roney: Whatever they do, they need to keep giving Evan Gattis regular at-bats. WIth Uggla, Heyward, and Upton Senior struggling, he's too good to languish on the bench.

4. Texas Rangers (32-20; LW: 2)Zuckerman: Texas is absolutely dominating its division: 19-9 vs AL West, 13-11 vs everyone else.

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  1. blovy8 - May 30, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Man, if a team is desperate enough to trade for Kevin Slowey, they probably aren't going to win anyway.

  2. bowdenball - May 30, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Why would "any other team" look to trade a guy who's only 30 and just signed a contract that will keep him with the team for another seven years? I know the Mets are bad right now, but I don't think they're targeting their rebuild for 2022.

  3. Don - May 30, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Nats at 14 seems generous — the Rockies and Rays have better records and more complete clubs and the nats have a losing record over the last 10, the Rocks are 5-5 and the Rays 6-4.

  4. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    I'm not at all convinced the Rockies have a more complete club. Their pitching will not continue to do this well. Their bats might, but their pitching will doom them. The Rays maybe, I don't know.

  5. NatsLady - May 30, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    The Rays have troubles of their own, especially with David Price out.

  6. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    MLB Network just had a short bit on the Nats. Said that Ryan Zimmerman's home runs is a great sign for the Nats. Said not to worry about the loss, but to look at the offense that is starting to get going.Basically what some of us have been saying here.

  7. blovy8 - May 30, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Hard to believe there were four guys in the lineup hitting .170 or worse. That is some serious out-making.

  8. mick - May 30, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    David Proctor said…MLB Network just had a short bit on the Nats. Said that Ryan Zimmerman's home runs is a great sign for the Nats. Said not to worry about the loss, but to look at the offense that is starting to get going.Basically what some of us have been saying here.and your right, but I think Werth has to be part of the equation

  9. Eric - May 30, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Agreed about Werth, mick. WaPo has Davey sounding optimistic that Werth will be in the line up this weekend, possibly as early as tomorrow.Would be appropriate, since that's where he went down…

  10. mick - May 30, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Eric… just hope that his injury is not a re occurring one, with the hamstring,

  11. Eric - May 30, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Indeed…hopefully the warmer weather will let him move past it for good.

  12. A DC Wonk - May 30, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    Caps Fan said… "I find it hard to believe that he will play poorly the entire year. He will either get it together or get sent to the bench or AAA." You could have said the same thing about Cristian Guzman in 2005. And you would have been wrong on all counts.Huh? But I _didn't_ say it then, and I _wouldn't_ have said it then. For tons of reasons. E.g.1. Guzman had a long track record of hitting .270 or more — Espi doesn't2. The Nats didn't have a whole lot of SS options past Guzman (Junior Spivey?) — the Nats do now3. Guzman was in the first year of a 3-year $13M contract (Espi is making $526K this year)4. Kasten isn't Rizzo5. '05 Nats weren't favorites to win the divisionI could go on . . . but the point is that the two cases are nowhere near comparable other than they their low batting averages.

  13. Steady Eddie - May 30, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Wonk said, the point is that the two cases are nowhere near comparable other than they their low batting averages.Oh, you're being such a silly Wonk — how could you let mere facts get in the way of a bit of mindless ventilation? ;o)

  14. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    We could theoretically have both Werth and Harper back for the series in Atlanta. That would be nice.

  15. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    And in Guzzie's defense, he did have a tolerable September in 2005. Way too late, sure, but he only stunk for five months, not all six.

  16. A DC Wonk - May 30, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Steady Eddie said…… Oh, you're being such a silly Wonk — how could you let mere facts get in the way of a bit of mindless ventilation?I just like to make sure my research-gun works — so I practice from time to time by shooting fish in a barrel ;-)

  17. Caps Fan - May 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    "5. '05 Nats weren't favorites to win the divisionI could go on . . . but the point is that the two cases are nowhere near comparable other than they their low batting averages."I seem to recall the 2005 Nats having the best record in baseball at the All Star Break, despite the presence of Guzman and his Mendoza line in the lineup. I seem to recall fan outrage at the fact that Guzman was being run out there day after day, even though he never got better until September when it was too late. Yet I also seem to recall all of the fan outrage and booing (they weren't yelling "Goooooooooooz") making absolutely no difference.There's your comparison. In the midst of a pennant race, the underperforming Espinosa is run out there day after day, despite fan outrage. You expect a different outcome? No way. It's SSDD.

  18. Eric - May 30, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    "We could theoretically have both Werth and Harper back for the series in Atlanta. That would be nice."To say the least!

  19. natsfan1a - May 30, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Hey, *some* of us were yelling Guz. :-)Also, make that "Bowden" rather than "Kasten" in #4, Wonk, as I don't believe that Kasten joined us until 2006.

  20. NatsLady - May 30, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Are we still on Espinosa? And we are comparing his situation to a team with a different manager, a different GM and almost entirely different teammates? OK

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 30, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    The Braves just went to their AA to bring up Alex Wood for their bullpen. I suggested a few weeks ago Ian Kroll also of the Nats AA and the ex-resident expert on the Minor Leagues said that teams don't do that.Never say never. Nate Karns direct from AA. Ryan Zimmerman direct from AA. It doesn't happen often but it doesn happen.

  22. Caps Fan - May 30, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    "NatsLady said… Are we still on Espinosa? And we are comparing his situation to a team with a different manager, a different GM and almost entirely different teammates? OK"The French have a saying for it. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

  23. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    I know Werth went 1-2 in his rehab debut yesterday, but I didn't hear how he felt afterwards. Is this a case of no news is good news? Has anyone seen a report?

  24. natsfan1a - May 30, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    On another note, the Sports Bog (which is linked to at left) has a post about the MASN mixed booth, where viewers can share their opinions. My review (with hat tip to the short-lived, Jon Lovitz voiced cartoon of the mid-1990s) "it stinks." Charlie and Dave will once again be voicing tonight's game footage for me tonight.

  25. natsfan1a - May 30, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    (hat tip to the Department of Redundancy)

  26. Gonat - May 30, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Is anyone going to the Mid-Atlantic Evil Empire's lair tonight? I'm going. Won't get there until 8PM. My buddy for the team is getting me tix and have no idea where I'm sitting.

  27. Nats 128 - May 30, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    David Proctor, I gave you a H/T for your in game analysis last night. Good job on reading Jordan Zimmermann.

  28. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Thanks Nats 128. Today's lineup: Span cf, Bernadina rf, Zimmerman 3b, LaRoche dh, Desmond ss, Moore lf, Tracy 1b, Suzuki c, Espi 2b, Haren rhp

  29. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Interesting that LaRoche is DHing and Tracy is playing 1B.

  30. Nats 128 - May 30, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Chad Tracy and Espinosa need to make tonight the night they contribute in a big way to this team.

  31. Eric - May 30, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    "Interesting that LaRoche is DHing and Tracy is playing 1B."Interesting way to put it…I'd go with…WTF?!?!? ;)

  32. MicheleS - May 30, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    David P.. add my H/T to you as well, you pretty muched called the ZNN command issue right off the bat.Davey is trying to get Tracy some field reps. Trying to keep him fresh. And WHEN are we going to see Mr Kobernus get a start? I would like to see him in the OF or heck even Lombo in Left.

  33. David Proctor - May 30, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    My guess is Davey thinks Tracy playing the field will help him lock in and hit better.

  34. Eric - May 30, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I'm very curious to see Kobernus in action myself…

  35. Steady Eddie - May 30, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    "Interesting that LaRoche is DHing and Tracy is playing 1B."Giving ALR a night off without losing his hot bat.

  36. NatsLady - May 30, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Davey must feel RZimm's arm is OK. Still, interesting choice.

  37. natsfan1a - May 30, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    No, I don't tend to get to weeknight games even at Nats Park and Baltimore takes much longer to get to from here. Plus, I don't want to give Mr. A** any of my hard-earned money. Plus, I already had a young fellow from Baltimore "accidentally" bump into me (several times) after Sunday's game at Nats Park. No thanks. But good luck to you and, of course, to our Nats!Gonat said… Is anyone going to the Mid-Atlantic Evil Empire's lair tonight? I'm going. Won't get there until 8PM. My buddy for the team is getting me tix and have no idea where I'm sitting. May 30, 2013 3:22 PM

  38. natsfan1a - May 30, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    That's not a comment, that's a pitch. :-)Eric said… Interesting way to put it…I'd go with…WTF?!?!? ;) May 30, 2013 3:33 PM

  39. Eric - May 30, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    lol natsfan1a!

  40. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 30, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    (hat tip to the Department of Redundancy)Isn't that the Department of Redundancy Department, a division of the Small Animal Administration?

  41. natsfan1a - May 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Good call, sec3.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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