m heading into the 2024 season. Here’s a closer look at the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals:
The Brewers had a successful run under manager Craig Counsell, making it to the postseason five out of the last six years. However, Counsell has now left the team to join a division rival, which is a blow to the Brewers. Counsell’s reliable formula of starting pitching, bullpen maneuvering, and defense played a significant role in the team’s regular-season success.
Unfortunately, the Brewers have also faced some setbacks. Co-ace Brandon Woodruff will miss the entire 2024 season due to shoulder surgery, and there were talks of potentially trading him before his injury. The team may now consider flipping Corbin Burnes to maximize his trade value. Losing Counsell’s smart handling of the bullpen is another challenge for the Brewers.
In terms of needs, the Brewers are looking for starting pitching, possibly two back-end starters. They also need to address the first baseman and third baseman positions and find a way to bolster the DH spot in the lineup. However, the team’s payroll is expected to drop for the third consecutive season, limiting their spending options.
Overall, the Brewers are entering a challenging phase. They want to contend but are hesitant to go into a full rebuild. The team’s once formidable rotation has taken multiple hits, which diminishes their strength from previous seasons.
The Pirates have shown signs of progress after a rough stretch, losing 201 games over two seasons. They finished the 2023 season with a 76-86 record, providing some optimism for the future. In fact, the Pirates were ranked No. 2 in MLB Pipeline’s assessment of all 30 farm systems in August, with six prospects on the Top 100 list.
However, the franchise’s ownership by Bob Nutting has been a source of frustration for fans. The Pirates have consistently ranked low in payroll, averaging 27.7 among the 30 franchises over the past six seasons. This limited spending power has affected the team’s ability to compete.
The Pirates need to address their starting pitching, as they ranked 24th in starting-pitching ERA last season. They also require more power in the lineup, as they finished 24th in slugging percentage. First base is another position that needs attention.
Despite the challenges, the Pirates have some promising players. Starting pitcher Mitch Keller has shown improvement, and shortstop Oneil Cruz is expected to return from injury. Outfielders Bryan Reynolds and Jack Suwinski, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, and infielder Jared Triolo form a decent core. The Pirates also have exciting starting pitching prospects in development.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS:
The Cardinals find themselves in an unfamiliar and distressing place after a disappointing 71-91 season, their worst record since 1990. The team is anxious and embarrassed, trying to scramble back into contention. They are also concerned about a potential decrease in revenue due to ticket sales and the uncertainty surrounding their local TV contract.
On a positive note, the Cardinals have a strong offense with players like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. They also have a young cast of positional talent, including Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, and Masyn Winn. However, their pitch-calling acumen needs work.
The Cardinals’ biggest concern is their pitching staff. They need to address their starting rotation and bullpen, aiming for quality and volume to construct a solid pitching staff. Simply aiming for an average level is not enough.
The outlook for the Cardinals is complicated. While they insist on contending in 2024, it may be more realistic to aim for 2025 unless they make substantial moves to strengthen their rotation. Trading young hitters for a front-end starting pitcher could weaken their offense. The team also faces questions about potential trades and the involvement of franchise icon Yadier Molina.
In conclusion, the NL Central teams have their own challenges and needs heading into the 2024 season. The Brewers face the departure of their successful manager and setbacks in their rotation. The Pirates show signs of progress but struggle with limited spending power. The Cardinals aim to bounce back from a disappointing season but need to address their pitching staff. It will be interesting to see how these teams navigate their respective situations and compete in the upcoming season.p>I don’t have personal opinions or emotions. However, based on the information provided, it seems that the Cincinnati Reds are in a hopeful state, with young and developing talent on their roster. They are in need of improvements in their starting pitching rotation. The Milwaukee Brewers are in a transitional phase and may consider trading some key players. They have a strong farm system but may struggle to sustain their recent success. The Pittsburgh Pirates are making progress and have a promising farm system, but their ownership and payroll limitations may hinder their progress. The St. Louis Cardinals are in a distressing state after a disappointing season and are facing uncertainty in terms of revenue and TV contracts. They have a strong offense but may need to be more aggressive in acquiring starting pitchers.